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What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem in the United States. Each year, traumatic brain injuries contribute to a substantial number of deaths and cases of permanent disability. Every year, at least 1.7 million TBIs occur either as an isolated injury or along with other injuries. A TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from mild (a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to severe (an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury). The majority of TBIs that occur each year are concussions or other forms of mild TBI; half of all TBIs are due to motor vehicle accidents.

A person with a mild TBI may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision or tired eyes
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • A change in sleep patterns
  • Behavioral or mood changes
  • Trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking.

A person with a moderate or severe TBI may show these same symptoms, but may also have a headache that gets worse or does not go away, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, an inability to awaken from sleep, dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the extremities, loss of coordination, and increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation.

Anyone with signs of moderate or severe TBI should receive medical attention as soon as possible. Because little can be done to reverse the initial brain damage caused by trauma, medical personnel try to stabilize an individual with TBI and focus on preventing further injury. Primary concerns include insuring proper oxygen supply to the brain and the rest of the body, maintaining adequate blood flow, and controlling blood pressure.

Imaging tests help in determining the diagnosis and prognosis of a TBI patient. Patients with mild to moderate injuries may receive skull and neck X-rays to check for bone fractures or spinal instability. For moderate to severe cases, the imaging test is a computed tomography (CT) scan.

Moderately to severely injured patients receive rehabilitation that involves individually tailored treatment programs in the areas of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy, physiatry (physical medicine), psychology/psychiatry, and social support. Furthermore, approximately half of severely head-injured patients will need surgery to remove or repair hematomas (ruptured blood vessels) or contusions (bruised brain tissue).

Disabilities resulting from a TBI depend upon the severity of the injury, the location of the injury, and the age and general health of the individual. Some common disabilities include problems with cognition, sensory processing (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), communication, and behavior or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness).

More serious head injuries may result in:

  • Stupor: an unresponsive state, but one in which an individual can be aroused briefly by a strong stimulus, such as sharp pain
  • Coma: a state in which an individual is totally unconscious, unresponsive, unaware, and unarousable
  • Vegetative State: in which an individual is unconscious and unaware of his or her surroundings, but continues to have a sleep-wake cycle and periods of alertness
  • A Persistent Vegetative State (PVS): in which an individual stays in a vegetative state for more than a month.

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the physical, cognitive or emotional symptoms discussed above, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Florida traumatic brain injury attorney. Furthermore, if you or a loved one has sustained a blow to the head or a whiplash injury as a result of the negligence exhibited by an individual or corporation, it is important to be treated by a physician familiar with traumatic brain injury to determine whether an injury to the brain has actually occurred. A traumatic brain injury can have a pronounced effect on your quality of life including the ability to interact with loved ones and friends as well as the ability to work.

For more information on the relationship between a brain injury and an automobile accident or motorcycle accident, please contact: matt@dolmanlaw.com  or call Dolman Law Group at: (727) 451-6900. Matthew A. Dolman, Esq. and Bryan C. Hannan, Esq., are experienced and aggressive Florida traumatic brain injury attorneys who are often called upon by their colleagues to co-counsel head injury cases throughout the State of Florida. If our injury law attorneys can be of any further assistance, do not hesitate to call us immediately for a free case evaluation and consultation.