What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury occurs when there is a physical trauma to the head or brain, such as a shake, blow, blast waves, or a penetrating object that causes damage to the neural tissue of the brain. It is a complex injury with multiple symptoms. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, the effects can carry on for a long time, and some can last for the rest of your life. The Centers for Disease Control reports that nearly 5.3 million Americans are living with a disability as a result of a traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury is very serious and very costly. The symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can affect every aspect of your life including your relationships or your ability to work. In order to get the compensation you need and deserve, you need an attorney with expertise and experience in fighting cases with traumatic brain injury. To get the maximum compensation possible for you and your family, let the attorneys at Peake & Fowler put their decades of expertise and knowledge to work for you.
Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury
There are many ways that a traumatic brain injury can occur. They can be the result of a blow to the head such as in a slip-and-fall accident, an assault, a workplace injury, or a traffic accident. Contact sports such as football or soccer are also a common cause of traumatic brain injury. If the incident that caused the injury is the result of someone’s negligent or intentional act, or the injury occurred at work, you may be entitled to compensation.
Common Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury
The symptoms of traumatic brain injury can range from mild to severe; they can last hours, days, weeks, or even become a permanent disability that lasts for a lifetime.
According to the CDC some of the common mild symptoms include:
- Problems thinking clearly/concentrating – traumatic brain injuries can inhibit your ability to focus, concentrate, remember, read, and speak. These signs and symptoms would be indicative of cognitive problems; in other words, problems that negatively impact the way we think and reason. For example, you might have trouble remembering basic information, such as where you put your wallet or car keys. Or you might have difficulty solving problems and/or articulating a solution to problems that you would normally have no trouble with. Cognitive difficulties could produce a wide range of adverse effects; such as preventing you from doing your work effectively and preventing you from participating in activities you would otherwise enjoy.
- Difficulty with learning or remembering new information
- Irritability/more emotional than usual
- Headache – Headaches are fairly common, and a lot of people get them on a regular basis. But if you are experiencing an increased frequency of headaches and/or these headaches are more severe and painful than usual, this is a cause for concern. Pay particular attention to tension headaches, migraine headaches, and musculoskeletal headaches. If these headaches last for a long time and you are not able to get rid of them with aspirin or similar medicines, see your doctor immediately.
- Sensory problems – Problems with your various senses are another possible indicator of a TBI. Examples include blurred or double vision, tired eyes, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, altered or lost sense of smell, loss of balance, problems swallowing, and altered or lost sense of taste.
- Dizziness, nausea or vomiting (an early symptom)
- Sleeping more or less than normal and/or difficulty falling asleep
- Personality change – Our brain regulates our emotional states, and even a mild to moderate brain injury can cause us to behave differently. For example, TBI sufferers often have to deal regularly with depression, anxiety, and in the worst cases, suicidal thoughts. TBIs can also cause individuals to become easily irritable, behave erratically, and experience sudden mood changes.
- Sensitivity to light/noise
- Feeling unusually anxious or nervous
Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
While a severe traumatic brain injury can occur without a period of unconsciousness, often there is a period of unconsciousness when the injury is severe. There may also be a period of forgetfulness or amnesia. The CDC reports that nearly half of all persons who are hospitalized for a traumatic brain injury have a disability related to the injury for at least one year after the accident. The effects of the injury can be both short-term and long-term. These include difficulties with cognitive function, motor function, sensation, and emotion. Some common problems include difficulty with attention, thinking, and memory; weakness in the arms and legs; difficulty balancing; clumsiness; and trouble with hearing or seeing. A traumatic brain injury can affect a person’s emotional life, causing depression, impulse control, personality changes, and anxiety. A traumatic brain injury can be disabling and can require prolonged physical/occupational therapy, counseling, and rehabilitation. A person with a traumatic brain injury may find that their life has changed dramatically; they may have problems with work, family, and even routine activities of daily living.
Helping a Loved One Cope with Traumatic Brain Injury
If you have someone close to you who is suffering from a traumatic brain injury, it may be difficult to know how you can best help them. The first thing to realize is that TBI is unpredictable, and you will have many ups and downs along this journey. Be prepared for the long road ahead. Prepare to be frustrated, confused, to have your feelings hurt, and to have days when you don’t know what to do.
While all this is happening, remember that it is not your loved one’s fault. This is an injury, just like a broken arm or a broken leg, except that it is affecting the brain – the most complex organ in the body, the organ that controls the entire nervous system, regulates our thoughts and feelings, and helps shape who we are. Helping your loved one cope with this condition calls for infinite patience and the unwavering commitment to help them get better, no matter what obstacles they may face.
Here are some tips for helping your loved one cope with traumatic brain injury:
Listen to the Doctor
Rehabilitation is critical, and as mentioned earlier, it is not the same for each person. This makes it all the more important to listen to the doctor and make sure your loved one does everything he or she is told to do. Check with the doctor before resuming any activities, such as driving, exercising, and going back to work. And if the doctor tells your loved one to stick to a certain diet (e.g., eating anti-inflammatory foods) and refrain from tobacco and alcohol for a while, make sure these recommendations are followed. It may seem very tedious and restrictive at times, but the closer you follow the doctor’s orders, the better the chances your loved one will recover (or at least achieve maximum medical improvement) after the injury.
Don’t Try to Do It Alone
Dealing with the day to day frustrations of caring for a loved one with traumatic brain injury can push you are breaking point, especially if you do not seek additional support. The good news is, you are not the only one who has had to go through this. There are numerous support groups available both online and in your local community where you can obtain help and guidance and better understand this condition. It is also a very good idea to enlist the help of other family members and friends when they are available, so they can help relieve some of your burden.
Believe What your Loved One is Telling You
When someone has a brain injury, there is often a temptation to not take what they say seriously, much like you would with a child. It is true that much of their behavior may be related to this condition, but this does not make the pain they are experiencing any less real. Believe what they tell you they are going through, validate their feelings, and give them the reassurance they need to understand that you’ll be there for them no matter what.
Contact our Knowledgeable and Experienced Attorneys who will Fight for Your Rights
If you have suffered from a traumatic brain injury, don’t wait to get help. We have the knowledge and experience to protect your rights and fight for the compensation you and your family deserve. In Columbia and surrounding communities, call Peake & Fowler at 803-788-4370 to schedule a free consultation.
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Peake & Fowler Law Firm, P.A., is located in Columbia, SC and serves clients in and around Newberry, Lexington, Sumter, Allendale, Orangeburg, St. Matthews, Bishopville, Florence, Blythewood, State Park, Eastover, Columbia, Elgin, Irmo, Hopkins, Ridgeway, Lugoff, Ballentine, West Columbia, Kershaw, Camden, Dusty Bend, and Richland County, Lexington County, Calhoun County, Orangeburg County, Sumter County, Kershaw County, Newberry County, Fairfield County, Lee County, Clarendon County and Florence County.