Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. The Brain Injury Association of America reports that more than three million people in the U.S. live with a permanent disability resulting from a traumatic cerebrum wound (TBI). Each year in our nation, more than two million people sustain a traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury can have wide-ranging, long-term physical and psychological effects. If a brain injury in the New York City area is the result of another person’s negligence, a victim should also consult with an experienced Bronx personal injury attorney after first receiving medical treatment.
A brain injury or a potential brain injury must not be ignored. A brain injury can be caused by a jolt, a blow, or sometimes just a bump to the head. Even a brain injury that does not lead to a loss of consciousness can impair a person’s physical, cognitive, and emotional behaviors for days, weeks, or sometimes much longer. Some signs or symptoms may – or may not – appear immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear weeks or even months later. Recent studies are raising new concerns about the long-term effects of concussions and other undetected brain injuries that may remain latent and undiscovered for months or even years.
The general public tends to take concussions less seriously because these injuries happen so frequently in sports like hockey and football, where an athlete who sustains a concussion may be back in action in the very next game. However, research recently published in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology, shows that even if a person sustains only a mild concussion, the damage is still visible months later on brain scans.
WHAT ARE THE SHORT-TERM EFFECTS OF BRAIN INJURIES?
According to Dr. Raina Gupta, a neurologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, we know a great deal about the short-term effects of brain injuries. The effects include headaches, depression, irritability, seizures, dizziness, insomnia, double vision, and memory loss. These effects normally emerge in the first days after a mild brain injury, and the effects usually fade in a few weeks or months. However, Dr. Gupta says, “If you sustained a head injury years ago and are having persistent issues with your cognitive function, such as feeling foggy or slowed down, difficulty concentrating, memory loss or confusion, you should definitely talk to your doctor.”
“Also be sure to discuss any changes in mood or sleep, and difficulties with language, attention and processing information,” Dr. Gupta says. “Long-term effects of head injury may lead to partial or total disability that may prevent a person’s functional and psychosocial recovery.” She also says, “Anyone experiencing any or all of these cognitive symptoms, even years after a blow to the head or concussion, should seek medical attention and, if appropriate, further evaluation,”
Though it may be impossible to connect such symptoms to a head injury from many years earlier with any certainty, physicians are now certain that head injuries can damage the brain in ways that may not be evident until years later. Still, the best way to avoid long-term damage from a head injury is to be evaluated by a physician immediately after any blow to the head. And after any head damage, a patient must take the necessary time to recover, slowly increasing physical activity and exercise, as symptoms allow, under a doctor’s supervision. During the recovery period, treatment for mood shifts or for sleep disorders also may be helpful.
WHAT CAN THE LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF BRAIN INJURIES BE?
Any brain injury can be catastrophic and life-changing. Some symptoms of a traumatic brain injury may not manifest for months or even years after a brain injury occurs. At that time, a damage victim may exhibit difficulty concentrating, processing information, remembering, speaking, or understanding. Behavioral changes may include depression, irritability, rapid mood swings, and/or verbal outbursts. A cerebrum wound victim may also experience fatigue, headaches, nausea, seizures, sleep disorders, or tinnitus. Many other symptoms are possible as well.
Researchers also warn that the risk for epilepsy is particularly high immediately after a brain injury and can last more than a decade — even for mild head trauma. In 2009, a team of Danish researchers studied 78,500 cerebrum wound victims and published their findings in The Lancet, the U.K.’s leading medical journal. More than 14,000 of the brain injury victims they surveyed suffered from epilepsy. The researchers found an increase in the risk for epilepsy after mild and particularly severe cerebrum wound and after skull fractures as well, with the risk of epilepsy continuing more than a decade after the damage.
Other disorders that have been associated with brain injuries that happened in the past include perceptual-motor disorders, secondary psychiatric disorders such as depression, and conditions such as early-onset Alzheimer’s or early-onset Parkinson’s disease. Many findings are now also demonstrating that there can be a variety of long-term and sometimes permanent problems associated with brain injuries. However, diagnosis and TBI treatment is rapidly advancing, and there’s plenty of hope for cerebrum wound victims that the long-term damage linked to a brain injury can be comprehensively and successfully treated.
WHAT HELP IS AVAILABLE FOR BRAIN INJURY PATIENTS?
To say that high-quality, long-term treatment for brain injury victims is costly – especially in New York – would be an understatement, but when someone’s cerebrum wound has been caused by another person’s negligence, a good Bronx personal injury attorney can help victims fight for the maximum available compensation. While a price can’t be placed on the emotional and physical costs, the financial cost for a mild head injury is about $85,000. A moderate brain injury can cost $900,000 or more, and a severe traumatic cerebrum wound can cost $3 million in today’s economy.
Growing public awareness of brain injuries and their long-term impact has led more victims to seek help and to file personal damage claims. As a general rule, the more severe a brain injury is, the easier it is to arrive at a settlement. But when a traumatic cerebrum wound is mild rather than severe, and when the symptoms are disputed, and the prognosis is uncertain, it can be much more difficult for a personal injury claim to prevail, and cerebrum wound victims will need a personal injury attorney’s advice and services.