Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can be extremely serious, but they can also go unrecognized and untreated. As such, TBIs are often referred to as the “silent epidemic” or even as “invisible injuries.” This silent or hidden quality can intensify the psychologically damaging effects of traumatic brain injuries.
Many events can lead to a TBI, and the recovery process is typically ongoing. TBIs are unpredictable and they can lead to overwhelming physical, emotional, and financial consequences for sufferers and their loved ones.
The Brain’s Vulnerability
Our brains are afforded the protections of our skulls, but still remain extremely vulnerable to injury through trauma. Traumatic brain injuries are frequently caused by either blows to or sustained whipping motions of the head. Because your brain serves as the control center for your entire body, TBIs can permanently alter your life in the span of a few seconds.
The Major Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries
The Mayo Clinic identifies several factors as the most common causes of TBIs:
Falls – While many falls lead to nothing more dangerous than skinned knees, falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. This is especially true for young children and older adults.
Car accidents – Car accidents and other kinds of vehicular accidents, including motorcycle and bike accidents, are also significant causes of TBIs. Such accidents don’t even have to involve high speeds to cause significant damage. When vehicles collide, drivers and passengers can be slammed against interiors—the motion and impact of which can result in serious brain injuries.
Taking hits on the field or court – Everyone loves a good game, but sports can be dangerous, and some sports are more dangerous than others. In fact, high-impact sports such as football have received a lot of recent press for the potential danger of brain injuries. Young athletes are particularly at risk. Intense, action-packed sports provide ample opportunities to sustain dangerous blows to the head.
Criminal violence – Violence obviously endangers people in many ways and often results in traumatic brain injuries. Whenever an object hits or enters the skull, it can lead to irreparable brain tissue and cell damage, which makes gunshot wounds and heavy blows to the head especially devastating. Physically shaking a baby or small child (shaken baby syndrome) can be a direct cause of TBI. When a person is thrown, pushed, or heaved against a solid object, it can also lead to a TBI.
Military combat – Soldiers who engage in active duty can experience extremely violent explosions and collisions and high-velocity shrapnel can hit them. Such conditions are conducive to traumatic brain injuries. Furthermore, the high-intensity pressure waves from military blasts can adversely affect brain functioning.
Know the Signs
TBIs are highly unpredictable. As such, each traumatic brain injury is unique. Because the consequences of a TBI can include a range of cognitive, physical, sensory, behavioral, and psychological symptoms, it’s important to recognize common symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sudden onset of confusion
- Persistent headaches
- Extreme fatigue
- Sudden onset of sleep disturbances
- Lack of coordination
- Numbness and weakness
- Sudden speech difficulties
- Sudden changes in personality or mood
The Statistics of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries can vary greatly in both scope and significance, which is why they can elude timely detection. Traumatic brain injuries are not uncommon, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides some startling associated statistics:
- About 1.7 million Americans sustain a TBI each year (about 52,000 die, about 275,000 are hospitalized, and nearly 1.4 million are treated and released from the ER).
- TBIs contribute to about 30 percent of all U.S. injury-related deaths.
- Those most likely to sustain TBIs are four years old and younger, between the ages of 15 and 19, or older than 65.
- Those 75 and older experience the highest TBI-related hospitalization and death rates.
- Males experience more TBIs than do females (across all age groups).
- Boys four and younger experience the highest rates of TBI-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths.
The Effects of TBIs
Even relatively minor TBIs can have far-reaching consequences. Your brain is your body’s control center, and even minor changes in that control system can lead to unpredictable results. In fact, a traumatic brain injury can affect your cognitive functioning, your language skills, and your senses, including your senses of smell and hearing. Some TBI victims suffer from seizures that can become chronic. Physical symptoms, however, aren’t the only negative consequences of TBIs.
Traumatic brain injuries are often accompanied by long-lasting psychological and emotional consequences, and these conditions can be just as difficult—and sometimes more difficult—to endure. After suffering a TBI, many find that they can no longer control their emotions. This can isolate victims and contribute to depression and other mental health issues. Furthermore, these symptoms can dramatically affect a victim’s support system, including family and friends.
Your Traumatic Brain Injury
It’s established—traumatic brain injuries are, in fact, traumatic in many ways. If you have suffered a TBI that was caused by someone else’s recklessness, negligence, or wrongful conduct, you may be entitled to legal compensation. Victims of TBIs often face futures filled with unique challenges, including financial losses. Furthermore, insurance companies are in the business of minimizing payouts and are not necessarily invested in fairly compensating you for the damages you have sustained.
If you have suffered a TBI, you owe it to yourself to contact an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney. Abels & Annes handle the process of negotiating with insurance companies and advocate for fair settlement amounts rather than accepting initial (often lowball) offers. Your health, your future, and your case matters.