Traumatic brain injuries have been in the news on more than one occasion this past month. One, actor and comedian Tracy Morgan continues to recover from the collision a truck had with his vehicle earlier this year. Two, more attention is being paid to athletes experiencing head injuries and their long-term ramifications.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.4 million traumatic brain injuries occur per year, with most being of the “mild” variety. This indicates that an individual experienced a brief loss of consciousness. Symptoms, while noticeable upfront, gradually disappear with time.
However, a quarter of all cases are “severe” – that is, an individual is unconscious for a longer period. Afterward, he or she may experience memory loss, or prolonged amnesia. Symptoms, as well, may be permanent.
A traumatic brain injury may occur after a fall, a motor vehicle accident, getting struck by an object, a blast or explosion, or an assault. While individuals may recover, multiple TBIs over an extended period have potential to result in cumulative neurological cognitive defects. Within a shorter period, however, multiple injuries may have serious, permanent consequences or be fatal.
Yet while TBIs are being studied more, this fairly common injury has potential to change an individual life, as well as directly affect those around them.
1. Cognitive Problems
An individual able to think clearly or control his emotions may no longer be able to do so after a TBI. This injury affects an individual’s thought process in varying degrees:
- Difficulty thinking or remembering things
- Difficulty paying attention
- Mood swings
- Frequent frustration
- Lack of emotional control
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Starts to repeat things
TBIs further have potential to change “executive functions,” or the ability to process large amounts of information. This manifests when an individual has trouble planning ahead or coordinating events, isn’t able to keep track of time, finds it challenging to take in and comprehend input, and isn’t able to adapt to changes in his or her life.
2. Physical Problems
Physical changes are often the most pronounced after a TBI and vary in degree:
- Limited use of arms or legs
- Language and speech issues
- A change in hearing or complete loss
- Blurry or loss of vision
- A lack of energy or loss of stamina
- Chronic pain
- Physical paralysis
- Appetite changes
- Inability to regulate bowels, body temperature, or hormones
As well, TBIs have been known to diminish the five senses, and following an injury, an individual’s sense of touch, taste, movement, sight, and hearing may be less than what it was.
3. Emotional Changes
As an individual is recovering from a TBI, family members and friends may observe his or her emotions, social skills, and responses, and may think, “I don’t know who this person is anymore.”
Personality changes may be an obvious sign, but the emotional shift is often present with any number of the following indicators:
- Easily angered and frustrated
- Acts out what he or she is thinking
- Inappropriate social interactions, such as a lack of tact, blurting out things, or limited knowledge of common social skills.
4. Long-Term Changes
Although TBIs become apparent with the above signs, the injury puts individuals at risk for long-term complications and life-altering conditions, including:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Brain Disorders
Unfortunately, because traumatic brain injuries don’t always display on the outside of the body, diagnosis may take months. During that time, the individual sees medical bills increase and may find his or her employment situation change. Insurance companies, as well, may be reluctant to fully compensate an individual after an accident results in a TBI, particularly if months have passed since the initial incident.
If you’ve found yourself in this scenario, work with Trantolo & Trantolo’s lawyers to resolve your claim. Contact any of our Connecticut locations to speak with an attorney and move forward with your case.