Brain Injury Lawyer
A recent study has revealed that 53 percent of homeless people have suffered a traumatic brain injury, and a quarter of those injuries were moderate to severe. This means that homeless people are four times more likely to suffer a brain injury than the general population and ten times more likely to have suffered a moderate to severe one. However, unlike the most common causes of brain injury for the general population—which are falls and motor vehicle accidents—the leading cause of brain injuries in the homeless population is violence.
Traumatic brain injuries are associated with many serious issues, including impacts to memory, reasoning, communication, understanding, as well as depression, anxiety, aggression, and personality changes. Researchers discovered through the study that, for some of the participants, the injury was caused after the person became homeless, while for others, the injury resulted in homelessness.
Brain injuries often result in life-long impacts that can make it difficult or impossible for the sufferer to work or to live independently. The treatment of these injuries can create extraordinary expenses far into the future.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury is generally the result of a violent blow or jolt to the head or body. The injury may include penetration of an object through the skull into the brain, or it may result in a serious injury that does not feature damage to the skull itself.
Brain injuries may be mild, resulting in only a brief loss of consciousness, if any, as well as symptoms that may resolve within a few days or weeks. However, moderate and severe brain injuries may present with symptoms such as:
- Prolonged loss of consciousness
- Convulsions or seizures
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- Clear fluid draining from the nose or ears
- inability to awaken from sleep
- Profound confusion
- Agitation or combativeness
- Loss of consciousness disorders, including coma, minimally conscious state, persistent vegetative state, locked-in syndrome, or brain death
Doctors use information gathered from multiple sources to diagnose a brain injury. Some of those sources include:
- The Glasgow Coma Scale, which is a 15 point test that assesses the severity of the patient’s injury by evaluating such things as consciousness, the ability to follow simple directions, speak, and move their eyes and limbs.
- Information from those who witnessed the injury, such as how the injury occurred, if there was any loss of consciousness, if there were noticeable changes to the person’s speech, behavior, or alertness, and whether the person’s body was hit, or twisted around during the accident.
- Imaging tests such as a CT or an MRI. Moderate to severe head injuries usually show up on imaging tests.
- Intracranial pressure monitor, which allows doctors to monitor the build-up of pressure on the patient’s brain.
Immediate treatment of a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury consists of ensuring that the patient’s oxygen level and blood supply are sufficient, that inflammation and bleeding are under control, and that other injuries are treated. The patient may also be given medications to limit secondary damage to the brain, such as diuretics that can prevent fluid build-up, and anti-seizure medications. Surgery may be required to remove blood clots, alleviating bleeding on the brain, and repairing skull fractures.
Most patients will require various therapies to obtain maximum function after a brain injury. Therapy generally starts while the patient is still in the hospital and may extend through a stay at a rehabilitation center and after the patient returns home. Some types of therapy that are provided for brain injury patients include:
- Physiatrist, who oversees the rehabilitation process
- Occupational therapist, who helps the patient relearn or improve the ability to do daily tasks independently
- Physical therapist, who helps the patient with mobility and the process of learning new ways of walking or moving
- Speech and language pathologist, who helps the patient with communication
- Neuropsychologist, who helps the patient learn new coping strategies and assists with the patient’s emotional and psychological well-being
- Social worker or case manager, who helps coordinate services and provides the patient and his or her family with information about resources that may be available to them.
- Recreational therapist, who assists the patient with time management skills and the ability to participate in leisure activities
What Causes Brain Injuries?
Each year in the United States, about 2.8 million people will suffer a brain injury. About 50,000 people will die from a brain injury and around 282,000 will require hospitalization. The direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity result in an annual societal cost of around $60 billion
How are these injuries caused, though? Here are some of the most common causes:
- Falls: Falls are the leading cause of brain injury-related death in individuals over the age of 65, as well as the leading cause of emergency department visits and hospitalizations in those over age 45 as well as those 14 years of age and younger. Falls account for 47 percent of brain injuries in the United States.
- Motor vehicle accidents: Motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of brain injury-related death in individuals ages five to 24, as well as the leading cause of brain injury-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations for those 15 to 44 years of age. Motor vehicle accidents were the second-leading cause of brain injuries in the United States, accounting for 14 percent of the brain injuries suffered.
- Intentional self-harm was the leading cause of brain injury-related death in individuals between 25 to 64 years of age.
- Assaults were the leading cause of brain injury-related death in children younger than four. Assaults account for 9 percent of brain injuries in the United States.
Other common causes of brain injuries include:
- Sports injuries
- Being struck by or against an object
- Explosions, particularly those suffered in combat situations such as those experienced by soldiers deployed in war zones
What Are the Lasting Effects of Brain Injuries?
As explained by the Brain Injury Association of America, the brain is a complex organ that is divided into several different portions, which each control different functions of the body. The brain has a limited ability to heal itself, meaning that many of the impacts of the injury may last for the rest of the sufferer’s life.
What impacts the injury depends not only on the severity of the injury, but also on what part of the brain was damaged. The following is a list of the different portions of the brain, their functions, and deficits that may be experienced due to the injury:
- Frontal lobe: The frontal lobe controls such functions as attention, concentration, self-monitoring, organization, expressive language, motor planning and initiation, awareness of abilities, awareness of limitations, personality, mental flexibility, inhibition of behavior, emotions, problem solving, planning, and judgment. An injury to the frontal lobe will likely result in impacts to the person’s ability to control his or her emotions, impulses and behavior and may also cause difficulties with recollection and speech.
- Temporal lobe: The temporal lobe controls memory, language comprehension, sequencing, hearing, and organization. Injuries to this part of the brain may result in difficulties with communication and memory.
- Parietal lobe: Your sense of touch, depth perception, identification of sizes, shapes, and colors, and visual perception are all functions of the parietal lobe. An injury to this part of the brain may result in difficulties with the five primary senses: touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing.
- Occipital lobe: The occipital lobe is responsible for controlling vision. If this part of the brain sustains damage, it can result in difficulty seeing and perceiving the size and shape of objects.
- Cerebellum: Balance and coordination, skilled motor activity, and visual perception are all controlled by the cerebellum. When damage occurs to this part of the brain, the sufferer may experience deficits in balance, movement, and coordination.
- Brainstem: The brainstem controls involuntary functions that are crucial for survival such as breathing, consciousness, sleep and wake cycles, heart rate, and arousal. Damages to the brain stem often result in death due to the necessity of the functions this part of the brain controls.
Some of the long-lasting effects of a brain injury may include:
- Seizures, particularly in the early months and years following the injury
- Fluid build-up in the brain, which may require surgery to relieve the pressure
- Damage to blood vessels, which increases the risk of stroke in people with brain injuries
- Vertigo, which is dizziness that may be experienced by people who have had a brain injury
- Cranial nerve damage, which can result in paralysis to the muscles in the face, loss of or an altered sense of smell or taste, loss of vision or changes in vision, swallowing problems, ringing in the ear, or deficits in hearing
The lingering impacts of a brain injury may affect every part of a person’s life, including:
- Home: A brain injury may require home modifications to deal with resultant disabilities. Some of these modifications may include ramps, ceiling lifts, roll-in showers, stair lifts, door widening, and door openers.
- Work: The injury may leave one unable to do the work they were employed to do before the accident. Many people with brain injuries undergo vocational rehabilitation to learn new skills to find employment. More severe injuries may result in the individual being unable to work at all.
- Relationships: Brain injuries can place enormous strain on relationships with family and friends. Significant others may often suffer not only from impacts to the intimate relationship that often result from a brain injury, as well as a change in roles. They may be required to take on a caretaker role that is absent many of the enjoyable activities that the couple experienced together before the injury. Children of parents with brain injuries may have to adjust to also providing some of the caregiving, as well as experiencing a loss of companionship that they enjoyed with their parents before. Friends may be at a loss as to how to help and support the person with brain injuries. The brain injury survivor’s inability to control emotions, or respond in socially appropriate ways, may inadvertently chase away loved ones.
- Health: Brain injuries are believed to lead to many other conditions that require treatment throughout life, including endocrine disorders, seizures, fatigue, chronic headaches, cognitive decline, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia.
- Finances: With the loss of income due to missed work or being unable to work, as well as mounting medical expenses and needed modifications to the home, families of a person with brain injuries often find that the injury has placed incredible strain on finances. This strain on finances is one of the main reasons that those who have suffered a brain injury due to someone else’s negligence seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. The laws that were created to allow for these legal claims were developed for that purpose: placing the financial responsibilities of the injuries on the person who caused the injury, rather than the one who suffered it.
Can Brain Injuries Be Prevented?
Nearly every brain injury is avoidable when people take the proper care. The best way to prevent a brain injury in a car accident is for others to drive responsibly, for example—but the negligence of other people is not something you can control. If they do injure you, call an experienced brain injury lawyer at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP.
Call Us Now if You Suffered a Brain Injury That Someone Else Caused
If you suffered a brain injury due to the negligent actions of someone else, our experienced brain injury lawyers are happy to provide answers to your legal questions.
“If it were not for the integral legal team of experts at Jacoby & Meyers I would not be where I am today with my recovery. I highly recommend hiring Jacoby & Meyers should you ever find yourself injured in an accident, and an individual or company needs to be held accountable for their negligence.” -C.J.
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