Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is broadly defined as brain injury resulting from externally inflicted trauma. It may result in significant impairment of an individual’s physical, cognitive, and psychosocial functioning. There are two forms of brain injury: open injury and closed head injury. Open injury involves penetration of the skull by an external force and can result in a fractured skull and pierced brain. Closed head injury is not penetrative, but often leads to neurological problems.
Car collisions or fall downs may result in TBI. The sudden change of a car’s momentum can cause the head to whip rapidly back and forth. Brain tissue becomes damaged when it collides violently with the skull bones. Any blow to the head can cause TBI. Acquired brain injury (ABI) is injury to the brain that is caused by stroke, heart attack, poisoning, etc.
In the United States, an estimated 1.5 to 2 million individuals incur TBI each year. The highest incidence is among people 15–24 years of age and 75 years and older, with males being twice as likely to experience TBI.
According to the National Institutes of Health:
The numbers of people surviving TBI with impairment has increased significantly in recent years, which is attributed to faster and more effective emergency care, quicker and safer transportation to specialized treatment facilities, and advances in acute medical management. TBI affects people of all ages and is the leading cause of long-term disability among children and young adults. Each year, approximately 70,000 to 90,000 individuals incur a TBI, resulting in a long-term, substantial loss of functioning. The consequences of TBI include a dramatic change in the individual’s life, profound disruption of the family, enormous loss of income or earning potential, and large expenses. There are approximately 300,000 hospital admissions annually for persons with mild or moderate TBI, and an additional unknown number of traumatic brain injuries that are not diagnosed but may result in long-term disability.
Symptoms of TBI include:
Diminished state of consciousness
Impulsive or other unusual behavior
Rapidly changing emotions
Loss of ability to cope with stress
Loss of desire
TBI can generate a wide range of changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, and/or emotions. It can even induce epilepsy and increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other brain disorders.
Lawsuits relating to traumatic brain injury can bring substantial verdicts or settlements. If your client has suffered a traumatic brain injury as the result of someone else’s carelessness (or a defective product), the law provides a solution. To obtain full compensation for a TBI, you must prove the injury and its relationship to the negligence through a neurologist, neuro-psychologist, occupational therapist, and/or rehabilitation specialist.
Individuals with brain injury often experience problems with both vision and hearing. According to Carolyn Rocchio of the Brain Injury Association:
Hearing problems can occur for a number of reasons, both mechanical and neurologic, particularly when the inner ear and/or temporal lobes have been damaged. All patients should have an otoscopic examination and hearing screening followed by behavioral testing. External bleeding in the ear canal, middle ear damage, cochlear injury, and/or temporal lobe lesions can cause auditory dysfunction. (Rocchio 1998).
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, currently at least 5.3 million Americans have a long-term or lifelong need for assistance to perform activities of daily living because of traumatic brain injury. One year after a TBI injury, an estimated 40% of hospitalized patients have at least one unmet need for services. Most frequently, these are:
Improving memory and problem solving
Managing stress and emotional upset
Improving job skills
Families of TBI sufferers are integral in effectively implementing the rehabilitation process. An exceptionally informative book on this subject is Successfully Surviving a Brain Injury: A Family Guidebook by Garry Prowe. See: www.braininjurysuccess.org.
Listed below are additional brain injury resources:
Neurogenic Communication Disorder Information Center Traumatic Brain Injury Resource Guide American Academy of Neurology National Institute of Mental Health National Institutes of Health American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Brain Injury Association USA National Institute of Child Health & Human Development National Resource Center on Traumatic Brain Injury National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke