Millions of Americans are affected by severe brain injuries every day. Consider the following somber statistics:
- According to the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), one individual in the U.S. suffers a brain injury every nine seconds, accounting for over 3.5 million injuries annually.
- The CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control estimates that 5.3 million people in the U.S. are living with disability related to a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
- According to research from the New York Department of Health, infants under the age of one and adults 65 years old or older are the most likely to suffer a TBI severe enough to require hospitalization.
While some TBIs might improve with time, others may linger, and survivors with long-term effects often exhibit signs of decline in the recovery process.
What is a traumatic brain injury?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is any external penetrating head injury or bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts normal brain function. It can come from something as relatively minor as a small fall to something as severe as an object penetrating the skull and striking the brain. Some common causes of TBI include:
- A sharp blow to the head
- Whiplash (rapid acceleration and deceleration of a motor vehicle in which a restrained driver comes to a sudden halt, causing the brain the move inside the skull and hit the skull wall with adequate force to damage the brain tissue)
- Sports injuries
- Projectile hitting or piercing of the head
- Head impact with another object
- Explosion shock waves
Traumatic brain injury symptoms may be subtle, not immediately apparent, and may last for days, weeks, or even longer. Some common early signs of TBI include:
- Headache or a feeling of pressure
- Memory loss
- Nausea or vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Delayed response to verbal questions
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Other symptoms may appear later, including persistent memory loss, trouble concentrating, irritability, personality changes, sensitivity to light and noise, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
How does a traumatic brain injury affect the brain?
The brain is comprised of six parts which are all susceptible to damage due to a head injury. Here are the parts and what each portion controls in the body:
- Frontal lobe – awareness of our environment and how we initiate activity in response to it, judgments made about daily activities, emotional response, expressive language, identifying meaning with words, word association, memory regarding habits and motor activities, the flexibility of thoughts, planning, and organization, ability to grasp abstract concepts, reasoning, and problem-solving
- Temporal lobe – the ability to hear, memory acquisition, face recognition, object identification, categorization of objects, process verbal information, and emotion
- Parietal lobe – visual attention, touch perception, goal-directed voluntary movement, manipulation of objects, and the integration of senses
- Occipital lobe – vision
- Brain stem – breathing, heart rate, swallowing reflexes, seeing and hearing, sweating, blood pressure, digestion, body temperature, alertness, ability to sleep, and sense of balance
- Cerebellum – coordination of voluntary movement, balance and equilibrium, and some memory for reflex motor activities
Sometimes just a single area is affected; however, TBI affects multiple brain areas in most cases. Most people who have suffered a TBI can walk and use their hands within six to 12 months, although TBI can reduce coordination or result in weakness and balance issues in the long term.
Individuals with moderate to severe TBI often experience problems with basic thinking skills like paying attention, concentrating, and recalling new information and events. They may also:
- Think, speak, and solve problems more slowly
- Become easily confused when routines change or while in noisy or hectic conditions
- Adhere to tasks for extended periods because they are unable to switch to a different task when having trouble but may also jump at the first solution they see
- Display speech and language problems
- Struggle with executive function (the complex cognitive brain activities necessary for independence and competency)
- Experience personality changes that cause them to behave inappropriately in certain situations
While recovery and rehabilitation from TBI are possible, most people suffering from it will endure life-long challenges affecting their lives.
Did you or someone you love experience a traumatic brain injury due to another person’s negligence? The lawyers at Harris Lowry Manton, LLP have a reputation for obtaining fair outcomes for those who sustain TBIs, and we will also work hard for your family. To find out how we can help you, call our Savannah office at 912-417-3774, our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation today.
One of the nation’s top trial attorneys, Jeff Harris is an award-winning litigator who handles high-profile, complex cases across a wide variety of practice areas. He excels at securing justice for clients who have been seriously injured or killed, holding responsible parties accountable for their actions as well as their negligence.
Read more about Jeffrey R. Harris here.