A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when there is a “bump, blow, or jolt to the head” that causes issues with the functions of the brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
How TBIs Occur
TBIs can occur with open head injuries, such as puncture wounds or crush injuries that break the skull. They can also happen with closed head injuries when the head strikes a hard object or when there is a jolt that causes the brain to move within the skull.
TBIs can leave the victim with permanent brain damage, including impairments that can affect almost any area of the body and/or mind. Victims may suffer cognitive impairments, issues with movement or sensation, hearing or vision problems, and emotional and personality changes. TBIs do not only affect the person who suffers this type of injury — they affect the whole family.
Degrees of Traumatic Brain Injuries
According to the Shepherd Center, a TBI rehabilitation facility, every brain injury is different. However, doctors rank them into three general categories according to the severity of the injury. These include:
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Mild traumatic brain injuries usually lead to no loss of consciousness or a very brief loss of consciousness. The victim may seem dazed, with a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 13-15. Your doctor will run tests including imaging of your brain and may diagnose you with a concussion.
While mild traumatic brain injuries are the least severe of all brain injuries, they can still cause significant short- or long-term impairments in some people. Many have no apparent lasting effects, but the completeness of recovery varies from injury to injury.
Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury
Moderate traumatic brain injuries have a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 9-12. Victims may be unconscious for anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours, and they may be dazed and confused for up to a week.
Moderate traumatic brain injuries leave victims with impairments that affect them physically, cognitively, and emotionally. Some impairments even affect their behavior and personality. They can last for months — up to a year or more. The prognosis is typically good, although impairments may be permanent.
Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
Severe traumatic brain injuries are typically life-threatening, and many require life-saving treatment. They may occur because of open or closed head injuries. They typically require:
- Extended hospitalization
- Inpatient rehabilitation
- Physical, occupational, speech, and other therapies
- Relearning basic tasks such as walking and feeding yourself
- Learning to live with incomplete recovery to pre-injury abilities
- Adapting to overcome some deficits caused by the injury
According to the Shepherd Center, those who suffer the most severe TBIs often have lasting problems with movement, thinking, sensation, language, and behaviors that were not an issue before the accident. Because every head injury is different and affects different areas of the brain, there is no way to predict the outcome of a specific accident victim without reviewing the details of their case.
Common Causes of TBIs
According to the CDC, falls were the top cause of traumatic brain injuries during 2013. Slips, trips, and other falls accounted for almost half of all brain injuries treated in emergency departments or hospitals in the United States.
Another 15 percent of TBIs occurred when the victims were struck by or against an object. Car accidents caused another 14 percent of all TBIs treated in hospitals and emergency rooms nationwide.
Some causes, falls, for example, affect seniors and young children at a much higher rate than those between the ages of 18 and 65. For the majority of healthy adults who suffered a TBI, car crashes and other motor vehicle accidents were a leading cause.
Recovering From a Traumatic Brain Injury
Each brain injury affects the victim differently depending on the parts of the brain affected and numerous other factors. The rate of recovery can vary drastically even with similar injuries. Many people who suffer moderate or severe traumatic brain injuries miss months of work or cannot return to their previous job. Some require ongoing care, including around-the-clock nursing care in the first months after their accident.
If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury, we want to help you recover compensation. For more than two decades, Pintas & Mullins has fought for the rights of personal injury accident victims. The team from Pintas & Mullins can:
- Explain your legal options
- Evaluate the viability of your case
- Determine your eligibility for compensation
- Tell you more about your rights.