It’s still essential to remember that the main concern with any head injury is the brain, a soft organ surrounded by a thin layer of fluid, called cerebrospinal fluid and separated by dura, that partitions, supports blood vessels, and helps support the brain in the skull. The skull protects the brain from trauma but it does not absorb any of the impact from a blow.
Any direct blow may cause fractures of the skull and there my bleeding or bruising of the brain tissue directly beneath any injury site. But another common injury is when a blow or accident doesn’t actually impact the skull, but allows the brain to literally bounce around inside the skull.
Something as simple as a quick stop on an amusement park ride or bad fall on a skating rink or even a bouncy ride on a speed boat can cause brain injury that is not evident at that moment. Some sort of traumatic event causes a head injury, but that event isn’t always violent by definition. A slip and fall that causes no bleeding and which the victim seems completely normal afterward may be enough to cause a serious brain injury. Sports and motor vehicle accidents make up the majority of brain injury; car crashes account for more than 50% of traumatic brain injuries; sports related injuries adding another 20%.
Signs of Brain Injury
Brain injuries can vary from seemingly insignificant mild confusion to comatose, but many may not even manifest themselves until well after the initial head trauma occurred.
Initial brain injuries typically begin, however, with a change in personality. For example, there may be an abnormal confusion in the affected individual; or perhaps an uncommon lethargy or sleepiness. These signs, taken in consideration of the trauma, may be a brain injury. Emergency medical attention is absolutely essential.
Brain injury symptoms may include:
Numbness of unrelated limbs
Mild or severe amnesia
Sensitivity to light
Fluid leaking from the ear or nose
Mild or severe paralysis
Bleeding from the ear
High blood pressure
Low pulse rate
Dilated pupils; or, worse, one dilated pupil while the other is normal
Types of Brain Injuries
Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, has many causes and are classified differently depending on the cause. For example, the direction, intensity, and duration of the trauma change the characteristics and severity of TBI.
Most injury is caused by a blow to the head. That blow can cause injury from normal bruising or internal bleeding or it can cause the brain to move too quickly inside the skull and cause damage that way.
In an impact trauma, the skull is struck by either a stationary or a moving object with a certain amount of force. That force then sends a brutal shock wave through the skull and brain. That shock wave ends up being tissue damage. Obviously, if the shock penetrates the skull, it will not only affect the outside of the brain near the impact site, but will destroy tissue inside the brain as well.
Injury is typically different between a moving object that strikes the head and a moving head that strikes a fixed object. Those differences are called “coup injuries” and “countercoup injuries.” In the case of a moving object striking the head, damage often is restricted to the area directly under the site of impact. That is called a coup injury; a countercoup injury is when, for example, a person suffers injury in a car accident. It is not simply the area where the skull impacted the vehicle, but the exact opposite side of the skull, where the brain slid forward and then quickly repositioned itself, in effect hitting the opposite side of the skull with severe force.
A coma is defined as a period of time, from hours or days to months, where a patient is unconsciousness.
Yet comas are different and they often coincide with the level of injury to the brain. For common identification, a scale, called the Glasgow Scale, is used to determine the depth of the coma. The Glasgow Coma Scale Initially developed to provide physicians a simple way of measuring the severity of the coma, The Glasgow Coma Scale is a set of criteria based upon the patient’s eye movement, speech, and bodily movement.
Fully awake and alert, healthy individuals would have a Glasgow Coma Scale rating of 15 for a healthy patient and 3 for a completely comatose – or deceased – patient. Those patients in light comas often have responses to stimuli. Some may even have many traits of conscious patients, yet they are still considered to be in a coma, by the scale. The Glasgow Scale measures three areas: Eye movement, verbal response and motor response.
Types of Coma: Decorticate and Decerebrate Comas
The terms that describe the most traumatic of all comas are decorticate and decerebrate. When the brain cortex isn’t working — or in other words, that part of the brain which deals with movement, sensation, and thought – the injured individual is deemed to be a decorticate patient. When the cerebrum, the cortex, and the brain stem – which controls basic functions such as cardiac and respiratory, or heartbeat and breathing — is not working, the injured individual is deemed to be a decerbrate patient.
Some of these symptoms may be medically alleviated, but many are deadly to the patient and his or her family.
Fortunately, you may have recourse. Having an attorney with a focus in brain injury litigation is critical in providing you the opportunity to get the financial compensation you deserve. You will not pay a thing unless you win your lawsuit. If you win or settle your lawsuit, The Doan Law Firm will charge a percentage of the compensation amount, leaving you free from the costs of the actual court case.
The Doan Law Firm can assist in determining damages owed you after a brain injury. The Doan Law Firm knows that although accidents don’t wait for daylight hours to happen. However, we’re available to answer your phone call any time, day or night, at (800) 349-0000.
Primary and Secondary Injury
Primary Brain Injury is, simply put, the damage which has occurred at the moment of the accident. Tissue and blood vessels are stretched or torn and the result is obvious. A skull fracture – where the bone is broken – is considered a primary brain injury.
Primary Brain Injuries: Skull fracture
The most common primary brain injury is a skull fracture, where the skull bones are cracked and perhaps penetrated. Since they are flat bones and contain no marrow, the skull gives way directly to brain matter in a fracture. That fracture often immediately injures the brain inside.
Secondary Brain Injuries
But many people who die as a result of brain injury do not do so immediately. A large percentage of those with TBI die days or even weeks after the injury. In fact, nearly 40% of brain injury patients who are not hospitalized will die sometime after the event due to Secondary Brain Injury. In secondary injury, a complex process of cellular degeneration and deterioration occur. Secondary deterioration may start immediately or may take a few days to begin.
Secondary injuries common to TBI victims are:
Blood-Brain Barrie Injuries
Free Radical Overload
Calcium and Sodium overload
Changes in Blood Flow to the Brain
In addition, brain injuries often occur in combination with one another. The effects of brain injury depend upon the amount of brain tissue damaged and the level of pressure within the skull and its effects on the brain.
Since the brain is so fragile, head injuries are one of the most common causes of death and disability in the US. Nearly a quarter million people receive hospitalization because of traumatic brain injuries; nearly 50,000 people a year die. Of those who are not killed, nearly 100,000 of them sustain lifelong disabilities.
Traumatic brain injury can cause myriad long term problems such as:
Major medical expense and financial hardship
Continued medical care and financial hardship
Inability to hold a job
Inability to function in social situations
Inability to live a normal life without medical or hospice care
Some of these may problems may be medically alleviated. Financially, however, you may have a hard road ahead. Fortunately, you may have recourse. Having an attorney with a focus in brain injury litigation is critical in providing you the opportunity to get the financial compensation you deserve. You will not pay a thing unless you win your lawsuit. If you win or settle your lawsuit, The Doan Law Firm will charge a percentage of the compensation amount, leaving you free from the costs of the actual court case.
The Doan Law Firm can assist in determining damages owed you after a brain injury. The Doan Law Firm knows that although accidents don’t wait for daylight hours to happen. However, we’re available to answer your phone call any time, day or night, at(800) 349-0000. Contact our offices for a free case evaluation.