Head and neck trauma can cause an acquired brain injury (ABI) in a number of ways. From a direct blow to the head to a hypoxic injury, the trauma can be catastrophic. Even a closed head wound may cause significant damage to the brain.
In cases where the oxygen or blood supply to the brain gets disrupted, the injuries are often diffuse, meaning they affect large areas of the brain. A head and neck trauma acquired brain injury often leaves the victim with devastating impairments.
Common Ways Head and Neck Trauma Can Cause an ABI
Here are the most common ways that head and neck trauma lead to an ABI:
- Direct injuries to the head, like when it hits a hard surface
- Whipping of the head, causing the brain to hit each side of the skull
- A penetrating head wound, often from a knife or bullet during a violent act
- A neck injury that disrupts the airway
- A neck injury that damages the blood vessels in the neck
Head and Neck Trauma Can Affect the Rest of Your Life
Head and neck trauma acquired brain injuries affect each person differently. Even when the injuries occur in a very similar way, other factors contribute to which areas of the brain are affected, how the injury will affect those areas, and the amount of recovery that person can make. Some of these factors include:
- The victim’s age
- Any pre-existing or co-existing injuries or conditions
- Any complications
- How quickly they received medical care
- The treatment, rehabilitation, and therapy available
Brain injuries have a wide range of symptoms, some lasting only a few hours and others continuing throughout the person’s life. Depending on the severity of the injury and the completeness of their recovery, some brain injuries lead to lasting impairments.
Common symptoms and complications after an ABI include:
- Loss of consciousness, with varying degrees of awareness
- Disorientation and confusion
- Poor concentration and focus
- Slowed response times
- Loss of short-term memory and other memory issues
- Severe fatigue and inability to stay awake
- Problems with dizziness and balance
- Severe headaches
- Vision problems including double vision
- Loss of sense of smell
- Deafness, ringing in the ears, and other auditory issues
- Emotional, behavioral, and personality changes
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Insomnia and other sleep disorders
- Mobility and coordination issues
- Problems with dexterity and motor skills
Most brain injuries are relatively minor concussions that do not lead to life-long limitations. However, even the most minor traumatic brain injuries can cause permanent brain damage. Sometimes the injury affects an area of the brain necessary to everyday life. When this occurs, the victim may require assistance with these tasks. They may be able to adapt with time, or they may require ongoing help.
Treatment and Rehabilitation After an ABI
Serious head and neck trauma usually require life-saving emergency medical treatment within minutes. Without prompt care, the victim is unlikely to survive. This is especially true when there is a compromise in blood flow or respiratory ability. Once the doctors evaluate the victim, they will determine the severity of the ABI. There are generally three levels of severity based on the Glasgow Coma Scale: mild, moderate, and severe.
Mild Brain Injuries
Mild ABIs cause no loss of consciousness or only a short period of unconsciousness. Your other injuries may require more extensive treatment, but if your ABI is the only concern you may only need to spend a few hours in the hospital. It could still take several weeks or months to recover, though.
Even with a mild brain injury, you may miss work and need physical, cognitive, occupational, or other therapies to regain lost skills or learn to live with impairments.
Moderate ABIs are much more than a minor concussion. The victim can lose consciousness for several hours up to a day or more. They may need to spend several days in the hospital for treatment and observation. In some cases, they may transfer to an inpatient rehabilitation facility, and outpatient therapies are likely. It could take a year or more to recover as fully as possible.
Severe brain injuries can cause a coma that lasts several days, up to a persistent vegetative state where the victim remains in a coma-like state for the rest of their life. Those with a severe ABI may also have other severe injuries, leading to extended hospital stays. Once they are well enough, they usually transfer to an inpatient rehabilitation facility for intensive therapy.
During rehabilitation, they will rebuild strength, redevelop skills, and learn to adapt to any impairments. Some people make remarkable progress during this time, relearning to walk and talk. Others struggle to regain skills and may never live independently again. Many people require ongoing care and additional therapies following a severe ABI.
Recovering Compensation Based on Your ABI
Many of the circumstances that can cause head and neck trauma also support legal action in civil court. When someone else acts in a negligent, reckless, or intentional way and causes you harm, you have the right to hold them liable and pursue compensation for your medical bills, ongoing care costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. This may be true if your injuries occurred in a:
- Car accident, truck accident, or other auto accident
- Violent act
- Fall or other similar injuries
- Boating accident
- Construction site accident
- Sporting event
- Industrial accident
- Other personal injury accident
There are dozens of other circumstances where another party’s negligence lead to head and neck trauma and an ABI. Let Newsome | Melton evaluate the circumstances of your injury and explain your legal rights. Our initial consultations are free, and we handle these cases on a contingency basis. Call the team from Newsome | Melton today to learn more: (800) 917-5888.