What Are the Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury?
The effects and complications of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can vary widely from person to person depending on factors like which part of the brain was injured and how severely the tissue was damaged. However, most TBI victims experience major changes in all parts of their daily lives. If one of your loved ones suffered a brain injury due to an accident, your family may be able to recover compensation, depending on what caused the injury. You should speak with a Utah traumatic brain injury attorney about the legal options that may be available to you and your loved ones.
What Are the Leading Causes of Severe Head Injuries in the United States?
TBI is a common and devastating injury in the United States, causing more than 2.5 million deaths and hospitalizations in 2010 alone. The problem is simultaneously improving and getting worse. On one hand, TBI-related deaths saw a decline during the decade spanning 2001 to 2010, decreasing by 7%. On the other, the number and frequency of serious injuries increased dramatically, with the rate of emergency department visits for TBI climbing by 70% during the same time period.
Sadly, the leading causes of brain injuries in the United States are virtually all preventable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the top four causes of traumatic brain injury in the U.S. are:
- Accidental falls, such as falls from heights or slip and fall accidents (40.5%)
- Being struck by objects/striking against objects (15.5%)
- Motor vehicle traffic and car accident injuries (14.3%)
- Assaults and acts of violence (10.7%)
(The remaining 19% were attributed to “other” causes.)
Physical Effects of a Moderate or Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
TBI affects both the body and mind. Physical complications related to a moderate or severe brain injury may involve:
- Balance problems, dizziness, and vertigo.
- Changes to vision, hearing, smell, or taste. Some specific examples include blurred vision, double vision, inability to smell, inability to taste, hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing ears), eye misalignment (strabismus), and difficulty tracking movements with the eyes.
- Chronic pain, particularly headaches and migraines.
- Fecal incontinence and/or urinary incontinence (loss of bowel/bladder control).
- Loss of or reduced physical sensation, such as the ability to perceive pressure, temperature, texture, or pain. This condition can be very dangerous, because without receiving pain signals, the person may not realize they are in the process of injuring themselves.
- Paralysis, particularly if the TBI is accompanied by a spinal cord injury (SCI). Facial or body muscles may become paralyzed. Full-body paralysis is called quadriplegia or tetraplegia, while paralysis below the waist is called paraplegia. Paralysis on one side of the body is called hemiplegia.
- Muscle weakness, such as having a loose grip. Weakness that only affects the right or left side of the body is called hemiparesis.
- Respiratory problems and difficulty breathing. The victim may need an oxygen machine or similar device to assist with respiration while awake or sleeping.
- Slurred speech caused by paralysis or weakness of facial muscles.
Mental Effects and Cognitive Impairment Caused by TBI
Cognition is the process of thinking and processing information. TBI can greatly impair the victim’s normal cognitive functioning. He or she might:
- Become forgetful or easily distracted.
- Be unable to retain new information.
- Have difficulty articulating thoughts, or matching names to faces and familiar objects.
- Have trouble forming memories.
- Lose the ability to carry out logic-based thinking.
- Struggle to pay attention and maintain focus for extended periods of time.
- Take longer to make decisions or compare options.
- Think and speak more slowly than they did before the injury.
A traumatic brain injury impacts not only the victim’s thinking, but also his or her feelings and emotional state. Many TBI victims lose their job, their relationship, or their mobility and physical independence. As a result, severe depression following a brain injury is common. Depression may be accompanied by chronic insomnia (which can also be caused by physical pain and discomfort), anxiety, or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) related to the car or truck accident that caused the TBI.
If the injury affects areas of the brain that control emotion, such as the prefrontal cortex, the victim may have emotional outbursts, like sudden laughing or crying fits, that don’t necessarily match the way they are actually feeling.
Let the Utah Accident Lawyers at Overson Law Fight for You
If your loved one sustained a brain injury through no fault of their own, he or she may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, wrongful death and other damages. To learn more in a free and completely confidential legal consultation, call the Salt Lake City personal injury lawyers of Overson Law at (801) 895-3143. We are here to help Utah personal injury victims around the clock, including weekends.