FAQ: Brain Injury and TBI
If you or a loved one suffered a TBI, you may have questions regarding the nature of the injury and how your life will change because of it. In addition to contacting national and local resources like the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) and the Brain Injury Alliance of Utah (BIAU), we recommend a free consultation with our firm about your legal options. If you are eligible to receive financial compensation, we want to do our part to help.
We talk to many prospective clients who are exploring their options after a TBI, and in these discussions, we have identified questions that arise more often than not. Here are the basics of TBI as it relates to personal injury law. For more clarification, or if you have further questions, please contact our firm.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
According to CEMM, “a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a blow or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain.”
TBIs can range from mild to severe and result in short- or long-term problems with independent function. Not every brain injury is a TBI. As their name suggests, TBIs are typically linked to traumatic events.
What Causes TBI?
The leading causes of TBI among Americans are falls and motor vehicle accidents.
An in-depth report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found:
- 35.2% of TBIs result from falls
- 17.3% of TBIs are caused by traffic accidents
- 16.5% of TBIs occur when the head is “struck by or against” something
- 11% of TBIs are the consequence of an assault
Blast injuries are also a leading cause of TBI for active-duty military personnel, and especially among youth, sports injuries are a common culprit as well.
How Do You Determine the Severity of a TBI?
TBIs can be mild, moderate, or severe and classification is based on how long you are unconscious, whether your memory or mental state is affected, and the results of neuroimaging tests.
If you suffer a brain injury, prompt treatment and monitoring can mitigate the symptoms and long-term effects of your injury.
Symptoms of mild TBIs, sometimes referred to as “concussions” include:
- Headaches and dizziness
- Excessive fatigue
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurred or double vision
- Problems with balance
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Problems concentrating or remembering
If you suffer a mild TBI, you should recover consciousness within 30 minutes and return to a normal frame of mind within 24 hours. While your brain can “bounce back” from a concussion, multiple concussions can lead to more serious injuries including lasting brain damage.
Moderate to severe TBI is characterized by a loss of consciousness that exceeds 30 minutes and lasting symptoms. While patients with these injuries may be able to recover somewhat through rehabilitation, there is no guarantee of significant improvement, and doctors cannot identify when a patient is more likely to regain some functionality.
Moderate and severe TBIs cause symptoms including:
- Extended unconsciousness
- Seizures and convulsions
- Severe headaches
- Chronic pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle spasms
- Sleep disturbances
- Amnesia and/or memory loss
- Confusion, restlessness, or agitation
- Trouble understanding and concentrating
- Inability or difficulty speaking
- Sensory changes or deprivation
- Vision changes or loss of vision
- Loss of bowel and/or bladder control
As the names suggest, moderate TBIs are the less serious type of injury; patients may display fewer symptoms and be more likely to recover from these injuries. However, even a “moderate” TBI can make someone unable to return to their previous job or live their life as they did before.
How Will a Brain Injury Impact My Day-to-Day Life?
Depending on its severity, your brain injury could cause permanent disability. If your injury results in cognitive impairment, you may be unable to hold an intellectually demanding job. If your injury affects the emotional systems of your brain, you may need psychological care and have difficulty maintaining personal relationships. Unfortunately, 46% of people with moderate to severe TBIs go through a divorce within 5 years of their injury.
Often, brain injuries impair movement and strength, as well. If this is the case for you, you may need assistive care and devices. The extent to which a TBI affects your life will depend on your specific symptoms and their severity. We can connect you with a life care planner if you have questions about what your life may look like in the future.