Brain injuries are devastating events for patients and their families. Unfortunately, the initial accident is only the start of the patient’s suffering. Many brain injury victims experience new symptoms of depression and anxiety. In fact, this finding has been so pronounced that one study in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation recommended that all traumatic brain injury patients be screened for psychiatric disorders at various stages of their recovery.
If you or a loved one has sustained a brain injury, you have legal rights which must be protected. Whether you experienced a traumatic brain injury (through trauma such as a slip, trip or fall) or a non-traumatic brain injury (through medical conditions such as a stroke, or lack of oxygen to the brain) the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can help. We hold negligent parties responsible so that you receive the compensation to which you are legally entitled.
Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
According to the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center, the following symptoms of anxiety may appear after a patient experiences a brain injury:
- Feeling worried or anxious without knowing why.
- Being preoccupied with making too many mistakes, or “failing” at a task
- Feeling particularly vulnerable to criticism
- Difficulty being in crowds
- Anxiety about feeling “rushed”
- Difficulty adjusting to sudden changes in plan
- Panic attacks
- Rumination (revisiting events over and over again and thinking about them obsessively)
The Center also notes that anxiety can be caused by difficulty in logical reasoning or concentrating, which are common cognitive symptoms of a brain injury. This can make it difficult for an injury victim to solve problems or make decisions. Time pressure can exacerbate the severity of these symptoms, as can situations with excessive stimulus (such as heavy traffic, noisy children, or crowded environments).
The Center also identifies symptoms of depression which might appear after a brain injury:
- Feeling sad or worthless
- Changes in sleep or appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Withdrawing from friends or family
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities the patient once enjoyed
- Lack of energy
- Thoughts of death or suicide
These symptoms often appear later in the recovery process, once the long-term prognosis becomes evident. The brain injury may cause permanent cognitive impairments. It can change the victim’s role in the family, the workplace, and within society. Brain injuries can also cause chemical changes in the brain which trigger depression (and other psychiatric conditions).
Other Psychiatric Complications of Brain Injuries
Anxiety and depression are not the only psychiatric conditions which can appear after a brain injury. Other problems may arise in the days, weeks, months and years after the accident. One common problem is difficulty controlling emotions. This can take the form of mood swings, temper outbursts, or general irritability. A publication in Neuropsychiatric Disorders and Treatment reported on the research of other symptoms which have been correlated with brain injuries, including poorer social functioning; higher dissatisfaction with work; unemployment; lower economic status; less education; aggression; and lack of interpersonal relationships.
The same study also noted that independent psychiatric conditions could also manifest themselves in patients after a brain injury. These include mania and other disinhibition syndromes; obsessive compulsive disorder; post traumatic stress disorder; hallucinations and delusions; and alcohol abuse.
The New Epidemic in Brain Injury Etiology
In recent years, football injuries have come to the forefront of national attention as a plague within the world of brain injuries. Indeed, a study by Boston University found that, of 111 former football players examined by autopsy, 110 met the criteria for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (a progressive brain disease caused by the constant trauma to which the brain is subjected in football). Even more concerning: nearly one-quarter of the high school football players autopsied also showed signs of the disease. This indicates that brain trauma is sustained very early in a football career.
As a public health crisis, the findings for professional football players are actually less concerning, because so few players actually make it to the professional level. The findings in young players, on the other hand, raise the possibility that every young football player faces the risk of sustaining irreversible brain injury very early in his or her life.
Your Right to be Compensated for All Losses Resulting from an Accident
A person who was legally responsible (“liable”) for causing your brain injury is also legally obligated to compensate all financial losses occurring as a result of the accident. These losses are known as your “legal damages”. This generally includes lost wages from any time the patient missed from work after the accident, as well as compensation for all medical bills incurred as a result of the accident.
Legal damages can also include compensation for any permanent cognitive impairments or psychiatric conditions that occurred as a result of the accident. If these conditions will require ongoing medical or mental health treatment, these costs can also be projected and included in the personal injury award as future medical bills.
If a severe brain injury has left the victim unable to work, or unable to work at the same level he or she did before the accident, the victim’s decreased future earning potential is also a compensable loss. Whether the reduction in wages was due to the need for shorter hours, or easier job duties, or any other accommodation necessitated by the accident, the difference in wages is a loss sustained by the victim.
Experienced Representation for your Personal Injury Claim
The personal injury attorneys of the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have decades of experience in negotiating and litigating personal injury claims resulting from brain injuries. Our attorneys fight hard to protect Clearwater residents from injuries and ensure that they are fairly compensated when injuries do occur. Whether your brain injury was caused by a car accident, workplace accident, slip and fall accident, or medical malpractice, our experienced team has the legal expertise to ably handle your claim. Call (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Our experienced, aggressive attorneys will protect your right to be compensated for your injuries and losses.