TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI)
Proving the significance of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a slip and fall, auto accident or social security disability claim requires the involvement of good medical diagnosticians and a good attorney.
According to the National Institute of Health National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH-NINDS), traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death and disability in children and young adults in the United States. TBIs were a factor in the deaths of more than 50,000 people in the United States in 2010 alone. Additionally, more than 280,000 people with TBI were hospitalized, and 2.2 million people with TBI visited emergency rooms. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), TBI injuries annually cost an estimated 76 billion in direct and indirect medical expenses.
The recent movie “Concussion” and stories in the press about football players suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) have brought attention to the long term dangers posed by even minor head injuries such as concussions. Concussions are a mild type of TBI that may be considered a temporary injury to the brain, but could take minutes to several months to heal. They are caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head. In the past, we used to refer to aging boxers as being “punch drunk.” Concussions become extremely dangerous when they occur one after the other. Anyone over the age of 45 who has witnessed the mental decline of former great champions and athletes like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Junior Seau knows that CTE is real and debilitating.
The symptoms of CTE and all TBIs include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety, suicidality, decision making, reasoning, concentration, memory, movement, vision, hearing, emotional problems, personality changes, anxiety, depression, parkinsonism, and, eventually, progressive dementia. These symptoms often begin years or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement .
Depending on the severity of injury, TBIs can have a lasting impact on quality of life. Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) refers to widespread damage to the brain’s white matter. This type of injury usually results from rotational forces or sudden deceleration and is common in auto accidents, falls or sports injuries.
Hematomas occur when an injury causes damage to major blood vessels in the brain resulting in severe bleeding. There are many type of hematomas. For example, epidural hematomas involve bleeding into the area between the skull and the dura matter. Subdural hematomas involve bleeding between the dura and the arachnoid matter. Brain contusions occur when there is bruising or swelling on the brain when very small blood vessels bleed into brain tissue.
Coup/Contrecoup lesions are contusions or subdural hematomas that occur at the site of head impact as well as directly opposite the coup lesion. Attorneys often see these types of injuries in high speed car crashes. Criminal attorneys encounter these types of injuries in “shaken baby syndrome.” Lately, disability attorneys have begun to research the effects that exposure to loud volume ordnance has on our wounded warriors as the blasts from loud explosions can cause invisible movement within the skull.
TBIs are often diagnosed with X-rays, CTscans, EEGs and neuropsychiatric testing. If you have been diagnosed with a TBI, it is imperative that you seek ongoing medical attention until you have been cleared by medical professionals who specialize in the treatment of TBI including but not limited to psychiatrists, psychologists and neurologists.
Attorneys handling automobile accident claims often overlook the correlation between a whiplash injury and TBI. Therefore, it is imperative that you notify your doctor and attorney if you notice slurred speech, weakness of arms, legs, or loss of balance following an accident. Nausea, vomiting, double vision, headaches, confusion, mood changes, sensitivity to light, fatigue, anxiety, depression and difficulty waking up can all be signs or symptoms of TBI.
Attorneys handling social security disability claims often overlook the significance of head injuries that occurred many years prior to the onset of disability. TBI can often be a progressively debilitating problem that does not manifest the totality of disabling symptoms until many years after the traumatic insult occurred. Disability attorneys will often seek to prove that their client has what Social Security classifies as Organic Brain Syndrome. Alternatively, the disability attorney will rely upon documented changes in personality, mood swings, depression and anxiety to prove that the disabled individual meets or equals one of the Listings for anxiety or depression.