You might have a traumatic brain injury if you were involved in a vehicle accident, if you hit your head playing sports (such as football), or if something penetrates your brain (such as a bullet). Up to 2 million people in the United States, including children, suffer from traumatic brain injuries in any year. According to the Mayfield Clinic, of those, about 1.1 million people have minor traumatic brain injuries that do not require hospitalization, 235,000 end up in the hospital, and about 50,000 people die every year.
If you hit your head in an accident, contact an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer at Abels & Annes for a free consultation.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
The most common type of traumatic brain injury is a concussion. A concussion is mild or severe, but generally does not cause permanent injury. However, researchers have found that those who have suffered from more than one concussion often have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) later in life. As of 2019, doctors cannot conclusively diagnose you with this illness until they do an autopsy and see the signs of the disease in your brain. However, the illness does have certain symptoms that lead doctors to diagnose CTE with a “best guess.”
When a blood vessel ruptures, it causes a blood clot, also known as a hematoma. A hematoma doesn’t have a specific size. Additionally, the symptoms vary, depending on the location of the hematoma. Clots may form between the skull and dura lining, between the brain and dura, or in the brain tissue. If the body doesn’t reabsorb the clot, it might require surgery.
Diffuse Axonal Injury
A diffuse axonal injury is often referred to as a DAI. This injury is when the nerve cells stretch at the cellular level. When your brain moves back and forth inside the skull, which could happen if you are in a car accident, the nerve axons tear or sustain other damage. The axons are the pieces that connect one nerve cell to another nerve cell. If DAI is widespread enough and enough of the nerves are damaged, you could have a problem with the nerves transmitting messages, which could cause you to go into a coma.
Traumatic Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
A traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage (tSAH) is when you have bleeding into the space between your skull and your brain. The blood displaces the cerebrospinal fluid, which protects the brain, much like a cushion.
A contusion is a bruise. The contusion could be located directly over the brain injury or on the opposite side of the injury. You might suffer a contusion if you fall and hit your head on a rock, if someone hits you with a bat, or if you bang your head on the window of a vehicle in a car accident.
Secondary Brain Injuries
When you hurt yourself, your body’s normal reaction is to cause inflammation around the injury. The extra nutrients and fluids attempt to heal the injury. However, if you have a brain injury that becomes inflamed, the inflammation could put pressure on the brain and cause additional problems.
Diagnosing a Traumatic Brain Injury
Doctors use the Glasgow Coma Score to determine the severity of a traumatic brain injury. Despite the name of the test, doctors use it on people who are conscious. The test has several categories, and each section of a category has a number. The doctor chooses the appropriate section in each category, then adds the numbers together. If you have a severe traumatic brain injury, you will score 8 or less. A score of 9 to 12 is a moderate traumatic brain injury and a score of 13 to 15 is a mild traumatic brain injury.
Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury
If you are suffering from a mild TBI, you might have one or more of the following symptoms:
- You might lose consciousness for up to a few minutes.
- You might have a headache.
- You might feel fatigued or drowsy.
- You might be confused, dazed or disoriented.
- You might exhibit nausea or may vomit.
- You might have blurred vision, notice a bad taste in your mouth, or hear ringing in your ears.
- You might notice a change in your sense of smell.
- You might become light- or sound-sensitive.
- You might have trouble sleeping or sleep more than normal.
- You might lose your balance or feel dizzy.
- You might exhibit problems with speech.
Additional problems include having a hard time concentrating and remembering, exhibiting mood swings, and having feelings of anxiety or depression.
Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury symptoms include all of the symptoms for mild TBI, as well as the following:
- Losing consciousness for at least several minutes. The loss of consciousness could continue for hours.
- Your headache might get worse, or it might become persistent, even when you take over-the-counter painkillers.
- You could have seizures or convulsions.
- One or both of your eyes might be dilated.
- You might not be able to wake up.
- You have clear fluids that drain from your nose or ears.
- You might notice numbness or weakness in your toes and fingers, or you might feel less coordinated.
- Repetitive vomiting or nausea.
Cognitive symptoms include slurred speech, confusion, agitation, or combativeness. You could also go into a coma.
If you have one or more symptoms of mild or severe traumatic brain injury, you should see your doctor immediately. If you are suffering from any of the symptoms for severe traumatic brain injury, you should go to the emergency room rather than waiting for your doctor to schedule an appointment.
If You Suffered a TBI, Call the Chicago Brain Injury Attorneys at Abels and Annes Today
Regardless of the type of accident in which you have been involved, you should contact an attorney who has experience representing individuals who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. At Abels & Annes, our legal team has experience negotiating and litigating brain injury cases in the Chicago area. If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury, call (312) 924-7575 or fill our confidential email form to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team. We can help determine your eligibility to file a claim and maximize your compensation.