Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury caused by a jolt or blow to the head that disrupts normal brain function. This injury affects over 1.4 million patients a year, 50,000 of whom will die and over 200,000 of whom will require hospitalization. Though traumatic brain injury ranges from mild to severe symptoms, it may have lifelong effects that impact both patients and their families. These effects can range from mild concussive symptoms to permanent disability.
What Causes Traumatic Brain Injury?
There are many causes of traumatic brain injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that the leading causes of TBI are as follows:
- Falls (28 percent);
- Motor vehicle accidents (20 percent);
- Other head blows (19 percent); and
There are many different mechanisms that can cause a traumatic brain injury. These include an open brain injury, in which the skull is fractured, contrecoup injuries in which the brain “bounces” off of the head after initial impact, causing double injury, and concussion, in which a blow to the head causes mild injury.
Who Is at Risk for Traumatic Brain Injury?
There are many risk factors in traumatic brain injury. However, it is commonly accepted that males are at least twice as likely as females to suffer a traumatic brain injury. TBI rates are higher among certain professions, such as military duty and construction. Children ages 0 to 4, teenagers aged 15 to 19, and elderly adults aged 75 and up are at especial risk. Traumatic brain injury seems to affect Native American and African-American populations at a higher rate, with African-Americans suffering from the highest traumatic brain injury death rate.
What Are the Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injury’s consequences range from mild to severe. A patient with a concussion may suffer from temporary disorientation and then recover quickly. However, traumatic brain injury can bring long-term changes and/or impairment to sensation, language, emotion, and thought processes.
TBI victims are at greater risk for amnesia, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and other brain disorders after their injury; they may also experience long-term cumulative effects of slight brain injuries sustained over a long period of time. The CDC estimates that at least 5.3 million Americans are permanently disabled due to traumatic brain injury; the total cost in terms of productivity and medical costs was an estimated $60 billion in the United States in 2000.
How Can Traumatic Brain Injury Be Prevented?
The proper use of vehicles, firearms, and heavy equipment can do much to prevent traumatic brain injury accident. Proper protective gear should be used when playing sports or performing activities that may carry a risk of TBI. In addition, safe living and working conditions can prevent slips, falls, and blunt head injuries, especially for seniors and small children whose gait may be unstable. Suicide prevention is another means of preventing TBI, since about 66 percent of traumatic brain injuries related to firearms carry suicidal intent.
I’ve Suffered From TBI. Who Can Help?
If you or a loved one have suffered from traumatic brain injury, you must seek medical attention immediately. Some forms of TBI are life-threatening, and medical intervention is necessary to prevent permanent disability or death.
After you have sought appropriate medical care, you may also want to contact an attorney with experience in brain injury litigation. A traumatic brain injury lawyer can help assess your potential claim and tell you if you might be eligible for benefits, which may include medical expenses, compensation for lost wages and future medical care, and/or a settlement related to a brain injury lawsuit.