A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of head injury that is caused when the head is violently struck, either by a foreign object or by coming into contact with a hard surface. There are several different types of traumatic brain injuries, as outlined below:
Closed head injuries: This type of injury occurs when the brain is impacted from outside the skull. It can cause bleeding, bruising, tissue damage, increased intracranial pressure, and fluid buildup.
Penetrating injuries: This type of injury occurs when a foreign object fractures and penetrates the skull, such as a gunshot wound.
Anoxic injury: This occurs when there is a lack of oxygen or reduction of oxygen to the brain that causes brain cells to die.
Toxic injury: This type of injury occurs when the brain is exposed to certain toxic chemical agents, which can cross the blood-brain barrier and damage or kill brain cells.
TBIs can have wide-ranging physical and psychological effects, depending on how severe the injury is. Some of the immediate symptoms of mild TBIs include:
- Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Memory problems
- Sensitivity to light or sound.
- Immediate symptoms of moderate to severe TBIs include:
- Loss of consciousness from several minutes to several hours
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilation of one or both pupils
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
- Profound conclusion
- Slurred speech
- Coma and other consciousness disorders
Mild TBIs usually require treatment no more advanced treatment than over-the-counter pain relievers and rest. However, more severe TBIs almost always require immediate emergency care, including extended time in the hospital, medications, surgery, and rehabilitation. With the proper treatment, most TBI patients will be able to make a recovery and go on to live healthy, normal lives. However, some of the most severe traumatic brain injuries can cause permanent disabilities in victims that can have a substantial effect on many aspects of their lives.
Below, we’ll take a look at some of the most common long-term problems caused by TBI.
Most patients who have suffered a severe TBI will suffer from memory problems – sometimes for the rest of their lives. This can include the loss of specific past memories and the partial inability to store or experience new memories. Some patients with severe TBI may also experience either anterograde or retrograde post-traumatic amnesia. Anterograde post-traumatic amnesia is impaired memory of events that happened after the TBI, while retrograde post-traumatic amnesia is impaired memory of events that happened before the TBI.
Patients who experience even mild or moderate TBI can suffer from long-term cognitive impairment, including becoming easily confused or distracted or having problems paying attention or concentrating. Patients with more severe TBI can also develop problems with higher-level “executive” functions like planning, organizing, abstract reasoning, problem-solving, and making judgments. Depending on what line of work the patient was in before suffering the TBI, these types of cognitive impairments can make it difficult or impossible to resume pre-TBI work activities.
Sensory problems can also persist long after a TBI, especially problems with vision. Patients suffering from vision problems caused by TBI may experience an inability to register what they are seeing, problems bumping into or dropping objects, or a general unsteadiness. These symptoms make it very difficult to drive a car, work with machinery, or play sports. Depending on what part of the brain was injured in the TBI, patients can also develop tinnitus (a ringing in the ears), a persistent bitter taste in the mouth, a persistent noxious smell, or persistent skin tingling, itching, or pain.
Language and Communication Problems
Problems with language and communication are known as aphasia and are very common in patients who have suffered a severe TBI. Aphasia is generally a difficulty with understanding and producing spoken and written language, but there are several subtypes of aphasia. Non-fluent aphasia causes the sufferer to have trouble recalling words and speaking in complete sentences, often speaking in broken phrases and pausing frequently. Patients who experience non-fluent aphasia are usually aware of what is happening and become severely frustrated by it. Fluent-aphasia causes the sufferer to exhibit little meaning in their speech, even though they are able to speak in complete sentences and use correct grammar. When these patients speak, it comes out in gibberish, and they often draw out their sentences with incoherent and invented words. Patients who suffer from fluent aphasia are usually unaware that they are speaking in gibberish and can become frustrated with others for not understanding what they are saying.
Psychological problems like depression, apathy, anxiety, irritability, anger, paranoia, confusion, agitation, and mood swings are very common in patients with brain injuries. Some of the problematic behaviors associated with these conditions include aggression, violence, impulsivity, disinhibition, acting out, noncompliance with social norms, inability to take responsibility or accept criticism, inappropriate sexual activity, and alcohol and drug abuse. Sometimes, these problems can become so severe that the patient can be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Some TBI patients also suffer from developmental stagnation, meaning that they stop maturing emotionally, psychologically, and socially after the TBI. When this occurs in children and young adults, it causes the patient to engage in child-like behaviors for the rest of their lives, many of which are inappropriate for adults. This can impact a person’s ability to work to support themselves and to engage in regular social activities for the rest of their lives.
Contact a Clearwater Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, the long-term effects could be severe. Fortunately, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries if the injury was the result of someone else’s negligence. Please contact a brain injury attorney at the Dolman Law Group in St. Petersburg for a free consultation by calling 727-451-6900.