It’s a leading cause of death and disability in America. It’s one of the most difficult injuries to predict, with a wide variety of symptoms that may last a few weeks or a lifetime. While this injury affects people of all ages, those older than 75 or younger than five years of age are most likely to receive emergency room treatment because of it.
Traumatic brain injuries lead to the deaths of about 155 people in the United States each day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, and can leave long-lasting impacts not only on injured individuals, but on their families and communities as well. If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury in Bowling Green due to someone else’s negligence, contact the compassionate attorneys at Flora Templeton Stuart and they can help you to understand the legal options that are available to you.
As explained by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, traumatic brain injury is an acquired brain injury that occurs when sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. It can be caused when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and penetrates the brain tissue. Some common traumatic brain injury symptoms such as:
As noted by the Brain Injury Association of America, the brain is made up of several different parts, each of which enables certain bodily functions. The difficulties that one might encounter during recovery from a brain injury differ depending on which part of the brain was injured. Here is a look at the functions served by each part of the brain and how an injury to that area may affect an individual:
Two events may occur after a person sustains a brain injury. First, the brain tissues react to the trauma through a series of biochemical responses. These responses then flood the brain, damaging and destroying brain cells. Depending on the severity of the injury, the injured person may also lose consciousness or experience coma, respiratory problems, or reduced motor functions. Approximately half of all severe brain injuries require surgeries to repair broken blood vessels in the brain or to remove damaged brain tissue.
The CDC reports that falls account for nearly half of all traumatic brain injuries, and disproportionately affects the oldest and youngest of the population. 81 percent of the traumatic brain injury-related visits to U.S. emergency departments by individuals over the age of 65 are the result of falls. Nearly half of the emergency department visits related to brain injuries and involving children 17 years old or younger were due to falls.
Another leading cause of brain injuries is being struck by an object. This cause accounts for around 17 percent of all brain injury-related emergency department visits. More than a quarter of brain injury-related emergency department visits in children 17 years old or younger involved the child getting struck by or against an object.
The two most common causes of brain injuries resulting in hospitalization were falls and motor vehicle accidents, accounting for a respective 52 percent and 20 percent of brain injuries requiring hospitalization. Hospitalization rates were higher among brain-injured patients aged 75 or older, or 4 years old or younger. For individuals aged 15 to 44 years old, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of brain injuries requiring hospitalization.
Brain injury-related deaths are also highest among those 75 years and older. Falls are the leading cause of brain injury-related death in those over 65. Self-harm was the most common cause of death for brain-injured individuals between the ages of 45 to 64.
The brain is unable to heal itself, which means that a person may never fully recover from a brain injury. Even though functions may stabilize, those that are controlled by the portion of the brain that was injured may continue to present challenges for the brain injured person for life.
The impact of a brain injury on a person’s ability to function properly is not in direct relation to the severity of the injury. Even those suffering “mild” brain injuries may experience permanent disability.
Some of the unconscious states that may be experienced by brain injured people include:
Waking up after a loss of consciousness or a consciousness disorder is not as neat or easy as it is portrayed on television and in movies. It is often a period of irritability or agitation for the injured person, as well as post-traumatic amnesia, which causes confusion, disorientation, and the inability to recall recent events.
Those who do not suffer from a consciousness disorder such as those listed above, may experience other disabilities, which become more pronounced as the level of severity of the injury increases. Some disabilities commonly experienced by brain injured people include:
Brain injuries increase the likelihood of other conditions, including:
A brain injury affects every relationship that the injured person has. Family members suddenly become caretakers. Living with a brain injury requires a tremendous amount of resources—both physical and financial—and support. While there are social services programs available to help those with brain injuries, the injured person’s loved ones are often left to shoulder the burden of making sure he or she obtains therapies aimed at restoring and maximizing function; caring for the injured person, his or her home and finances. According to the CDC, the societal cost of caring for people in the U.S. who are suffering from traumatic brain injuries—including both direct and indirect medical costs—is approximately $76.5 billion.
The caretakers of brain injured individuals often find plenty of care and support in the early hours and days after their loved one suffered the injury, only to feel in the following months and years like people are avoiding them. They have a hard time relating to people they used to spend time with, and often worry about or even face losing their job over time they missed from work because they had to provide care.
Many couples find that there are changes in their relationship following a brain injury suffered by one person in the partnership. There are many reasons for this, including changes in hormone levels after the injury, changing roles in the relationship, sexual impairment caused by the injury, and concerns over attractiveness and self-confidence.
Family members and caregivers must assess any potential accessibility issues before the brain injured person leaves the hospital or rehabilitation center to return home. Some items that may be necessary, depending on the severity of the person’s injury, include wheelchair-accessible ramps, ceiling lifts to safely lift the patient when providing care, showers that can accommodate a wheelchair, and power door opening units.
Brain injured individuals may be unable to return to the job they held before their injury or may not be employable at all due to cognitive, physical, emotional or behavioral changes. In these cases, social security disability benefits may be available to provide financial assistance. Those who can return to work are encouraged to have a candid conversation with their employer, to return to work gradually with shorter hours and more breaks throughout the day, and a lighter workload.
Those who can hold some form of employment but must change jobs, roles, or careers due to their injury may find assistance through a state-funded vocational rehabilitation program. More information on statewide services for individuals with brain injuries can be found Traumatic brain injury.com/kentucky.
Negligence is a breach in the standard duty of care that a reasonable person would provide in the same circumstances. Unfortunately, negligence is a common cause of brain injuries. Some forms of negligence that may lead to a brain injury include a car crash caused by a drunk or distracted driver, premises liability issues such as a hazardous stairwell that caused someone to fall, and more.
When this type of injuries occurs and causes someone to suffer a brain injury, state law provides an avenue whereby the injured party or his or her family members may pursue compensation from the negligent person. An experienced brain injury lawyer can help you understand the types of compensation that are available to you, given the facts of your case, and may even be able to help you pursue that compensation.
Have you or someone you love suffered a brain injury in Bowling Green or surrounding areas due to someone else’s negligence? If so, our personal injury attorneys can help you understand your options. Call us at (888) 782-9090 or Fill out our online contact form for a free consultation for more information.