Traumatic brain injuries can occur in accidents of many kinds, from car accidents to construction accidents. Any time there is a blow to the head it can result in an injury that can be life changing. Here is what you need to know about traumatic brain injuries, and what to do if you or a loved one suffers a TBI.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) usually results from a thrust, jolt, or violent blow to the head or body. Any time an object penetrates brain tissue, a traumatic brain injury can also result. Traumatic brain injury can be mild or severe and can affect your brain cells and how they perform either temporarily or permanently. Many athletes, military personnel, and first responders are regularly in situations where a TBI can happen. TBIs can happen both with closed head injuries and penetrating injuries.
TBI Signs & Signals
How can you tell if you or someone you love has suffered a traumatic brain injury? Sometimes, traumatic brain injury symptoms may not appear for days or weeks following the injury and may be overlooked because the person with the TBI may look fine on the outside. Signs of a TBI can be subtle initially, often growing more pronounced. Some signs can resolve over time while others develop over time. Headaches, confusion, dizziness and fatigue tend to start immediately after an injury but can improve over time. Other symptoms such as irritability, frustration, and anger tend to develop later. TBI symptoms can include:
- Light-headedness, dizziness, vertigo, loss of balance or coordination
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
- Vision problems
- Bad taste in mouth
- Sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions
- Mood changes/ mood swings
- Feelings of depression, sadness, or anxiety
- Agitation/ combativeness
- Problems remembering, concentrating, or making decisions
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Lack of energy or motivation
- Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading
- Loss of consciousness or change in consciousness
- Changes in sleep patterns, difficulty falling/ staying asleep or unable to wake from sleep
- Unequal dilation of pupils or double vision
- Convulsions or seizures
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Slurred speech
- Weakness of arms, legs, or face
- Loss of balance
- Nausea and vomiting
In young children who may not be able to communicate how they’re feeling, a traumatic brain injury can manifest as:
- Changes in nursing or eating habits
- Changes in ability to focus/ pay attention
- Lack of interest in a favorite toy or activity
- An inability to be consoled; persistent crying, irritability, or crankiness
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in play patterns
- Loss of skill, such as toilet training
- Changes in school performance
- Loss of balance or unsteady walking
- Tiredness or listlessness
If you notice these symptoms, have your child’s doctor examine them, even if you’re not aware of a specific blow to or bump on the head.
What can recovery time look like?
The length of time it takes to recover from a TBI depends on many factors, not the least of which is the severity of the injury. In mild traumatic brain injuries such as concussions, the recovery time can vary, while moderate to severe TBIs can take months or even years of treatment and therapy to resolve – while residual issues may be present for the rest of someone’s life. Often, the fastest improvement occurs in the first six months after injury. The rate of improvement varies from person to person, but doctors aren’t sure why this is true. In the case of a severe or serious TBI, the person may initially be unconscious, they may black out momentarily, their eyes may remain closed, and they may not show any signs of awareness. Brain function may improve with time as swelling in the brain decreases and normal sleep patterns begin to emerge. These early stages of recovery may include coma, vegetative state, and minimally conscious state.
A period of confusion and disorientation often follows a moderate-severe TBI, sometimes referred to as post-traumatic amnesia. The injured person will probably have difficulty paying attention and remembering things, and can become agitated, frustrated, restless, and nervous. Sleeping patterns may be irregular, and they may become upset easily and overreact to stimulation such as noise.
What should family members know about TBIs?
In many cases, a person with TBI will moderately improve over time, but there will likely be ups and downs, good days and bad days during recovery. The rate of recovery and improvement will vary from person to person, so it is important for family members to be patient and consistent with their love and support. Brain scans and other tests are not always able to determine the full extent of a traumatic brain injury. For that reason, it is sometimes hard to understand the severity of a traumatic brain injury in the early stages of recovery. A person’s age and level of health and abilities before the traumatic brain injury occurred can also affect how well they will recover, and how long it may take. They may regain total use of all their abilities, and they may not. It’s important for family members to understand and accept that their loved one – and they themselves – may need to adjust to a “new normal”.
What Should You Do Now?
At Whalen Injury Lawyers, we understand how devastating and life changing a traumatic brain injury can be and our goal is to help you get fair, full compensation for any losses you or your loved one may suffer. Our personal injury attorneys are ready to provide you with the best representation available in pursuing a legal claim, including taking your case to trial if needed. We are well versed in how big insurance companies handle personal injury cases, and we’re not afraid to take your fight to the courtroom. If you have been injured in a car accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the details of your situation and consider your legal options.
You can reach us in Denver at (720) 307-2666 or Colorado Springs at (719) 644-7000 to learn more. Colorado Springs our offices are located in the Alamo Corporate Center at 102 S. Tejon Street, Suite 1100. In Denver you can find us in the Denver Tech Center at 7955 East Arapahoe Court, Suite 2375, Centennial, CO 80112. We look forward to working with you to help you receive fair and just compensation for your losses and damages in your personal injury case.