Brain injuries dramatically impact an individual's personal and professional life.
Despite only weighing about 3 pounds, the human brain is remarkably powerful and resilient. Yet it’s still susceptible to injuries, some of which can seriously impact quality of life.
There are two main ways a brain can become injured. With acquired brain injuries (ABIs), medical issues such as a stroke are the cause of any damage to tissues and nerves in the brain.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which occur following some type of jolt or blow to the head, are more common than ABIs.
- It’s TBIs that affect nearly 2 million people annually and claim more than 50,000 lives each year.
These types of injuries occur on the opposite side of the brain from where an impact happened. There may be damage at both the impact site and on other side of the brain that was also affected by the force of the jolt or impact. Coup-contrecoup injuries are typically associated with blows to the head, car accidents, violent acts, and hard falls. Some patients experience hematomas (brain bleeding), swelling, and related complications. Treatment and prognosis will depend on factors such as the severity of the impact, overall health, and the specific areas of the brain affected.
Concussions and Contusions
Literally meaning “shake violently,” a concussion is type of injury that’s caused by a direct or sudden impact to the brain. The most common type of TBI and the usually the least serious, concussions can range from mild to severe. Injuries like this can contribute to lifelong health-related issues and problems with cognitive functions that may include confusion and memory difficulties. Associated with 20 to 30 percent of head injuries, contusions are bruises within the brain that result in mild bleeding. The effects of a contusion will depend on how long the bleeding lasts, where it occurs, and whether or not surgery is necessary.
With penetrating injuries, some type of foreign objects enters the brain, such as a bullet or piece of shrapnel or other debris. In some situations, removing the object will cause more damage than leaving it in place. If the injury is a through-and-through, meaning the object entered in one area and exited somewhere else, multiple parts of the brain may be affected. Even if the object remains in the brain, it may ricochet and cause damage in multiple locations. Survivors often require physical and cognitive rehabilitation and extensive care.
Recurrent Traumatic Brain Injuries
Sometimes referred to as second impact syndrome, recurrent TBIs are injuries that affect an area of the brain that was previously injured. If the same part of the brain is re-injured, even if the initial injury wasn’t serious, it may result in more extensive damage to tissues, cells, and other structures that haven’t completely healed.
With brain injuries, it’s not unusual for medical expenses to quickly add up. If some type of negligence was involved that led to a brain injury, a personal injury attorney may be able to help an injured client seek compensation for medical and long-term care costs, lost wages, and related expenses plus appropriate compensation for pain and suffering.