A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of injury to the brain, which is usually due to a sudden jolt or a blow to the head. Common causes include falls, assaults and motor vehicle accidents. Symptoms of a TBI can vary in severity from mild to life-threatening. But even after the initial symptoms are treated, a traumatic brain injury can have lifetime effects that require ongoing therapy and treatment.
TBI Symptoms May Persist
Brain injuries are unique in that symptoms can develop immediately after an injury or hours, days or weeks after the trauma. The brain does not necessarily heal like other parts of the body.
Certain symptoms may not appear until a person resumes their everyday activities. For instance, after a TBI, an individual may be in the hospital or taking it easy for a while. Later, down the road when someone goes back to work or school, and everyday stressors occur, symptoms related to the brain trauma may surface.
One challenging aspect of a TBI is that the people affected as well as medical professionals may not recognize specific symptoms, which are due to a past TBI. Underlying brain injury may not always be revealed on a CT or other imaging scan. Symptoms may be vague, which may also make it challenging to make the connection between current symptoms and a previous TBI. In some cases, symptoms may be attributed to some other causes.
How a Traumatic Brain Injury Can Affect Daily Living
The brain controls everything from breathing to memory to movement. When an injury to the brain occurs, the problems that develop can be widespread. Depending on the severity, employment and the ability to be independent can be affected. The lifetime impact of a TBI often depends on the severity of the injury. But even a mild TBI can have lasting consequences. Some TBI effects include:
Cognitive Deficits: Cognitive deficits, such as impaired memory, decreased problem-solving skills and reasoning can occur after a TBI. In some cases, deficits can be permanent.
Physical Symptoms: Headaches, swallowing difficulties and seizures can also occur after a TBI. Problems with balance and coordination are also common.
Communication Challenges: Brain injuries can affect speech and understanding language. Communication issues may include problems talking, reading or writing.
Personality Changes: Various behavioral and personality changes can develop after a TBI including mood swings, anger and depression. Some people may go from outgoing to withdrawn, irritable or impulsive.
Employment Issues: After a TBI, employment may be affected. Depending on the extent of the injury, wages may be lost. In some cases, an individual with a severe injury may no longer be able to return to their previous job or any employment.
TBI Recovery and Treatment
It’s difficult to say what a typical recovery will look like. In addition to the severity of the injury, the type of functions affected as well a person’s access to treatment and therapeutic services plays a role in their rehabilitation.
But regardless of the severity, the key to recovery from a TBI is getting the appropriate therapy and treatment. Immediate emergency care after a brain injury may include surgery and medication. People who have a moderate to severe TBI may need rehabilitation services including speech, physical and occupational therapy. Counseling, therapeutic recreational therapy and home care may also be needed. Treatment time may vary from weeks to months to years. In some instances, a lifetime of treatment may be needed.
The physical and emotional toll a TBI can have on both the patient and their family members is high. But there is also a financial cost. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injuries cost Americans over 76 billion dollars a year in lost wages and treatment. Individual costs may vary significantly, but initial hospital stays alone can be over a million dollars. Costs don’t stop there. Ongoing rehabilitation services, which may be needed, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
Although treatment can be costly, getting the needed therapy both short and long-term for a TBI can improve function, independence and quality of life. Fortunately, depending on the cause of a brain injury, financial compensation may be an option. In some instances, you may be able to file a claim.
If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury, please call our office at 312-527-4500 to speak to one of our top-rated attorneys. Our consultation is free.