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5 things to know about traumatic brain injury

Recognize the signs of concussion and TBI

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have a significant impact on your life. It can change a person in every way - physically, psychologically and emotionally.

Brain damage may occur in almost any type of accident: the violent whiplash action of a car crash, a falling accident, a direct blow to the head, or oxygen deprivation such as a near-drowning.

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Brain injury diagnosis and recovery

If a loved one suffers a serious accident, be vigilant for the signs of brain injury. It is important to patient and supportive through a process that is frustrating and challenging for all involved.

#1: Symptoms might not occur immediately

The symptoms of a brain injury are not always immediately felt or readily apparent. It can take days or weeks for some brain injury symptoms to occur. Some telltale symptoms to watch for in the aftermath of an accident include chronic headache, vomiting or nausea, clear fluids from the ears or nose, dilated pupils, dizziness, confusion, slurred speech and loss of coordination. Delayed symptoms may include short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating and inability to waken from sleep. Anyone who suffers a head injury - especially with any loss of consciousness - should seek a medical evaluation and go to follow-up visits as a proactive measure.

#2: The severity of TBI varies

Traumatic brain injuries range from mild TBI (including concussion) to severe TBI. The region of the brain and the extent of damage determine the severity of the injury. One method medical professionals use is the Glasgow Coma Scale. This scale takes a host of factors into account, including the person's ability to respond to stimuli and the level of consciousness. Some people with mild traumatic brain injury may walk, talk and appear outwardly normal, while those with the most severe brain damage may require 24-hour nursing care.

#3: Effects range from minor to life-threatening

The effects of a traumatic brain injury can vary from one case to the next. Some people fully recover within weeks. Some have lingering effects for months or years. More severe injuries can lead to lifelong and even life-threatening effects, including permanent loss of brain function, a comatose state, loss of vision or loss of hearing. Any traumatic brain injury, regardless of how minor it might seem, can have lasting and cumulative effects, especially when a person has suffered previous concussions or brain injury. The long-term effects may include any combination of physical impairments, sensory loss, cognitive problems and emotional disorders.

#4: Treatment involves multiple specialties

Treating traumatic brain injuries requires a team of medical professionals. Neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and other specialists may all be involved in the care of TBI patients. As you can imagine, this is expensive. To cover those costs, people who suffer from brain injuries may seek compensation from the individuals or entities whose negligence contributed to the accident.

#5: Family members can suffer too

Traumatic brain injuries don't affect only the person who suffers the injury. The entire family might be affected. Parents who suffer from a brain injury might not be able to interact with their children like they once did. Children might not be able to enjoy life as they once did. One spouse might have to care for an injured spouse without having a high-quality relationship like what they once had. When TBI victims lose their independence and ability to earn a living, or experience profound personality change, it alters the family dynamics. The victim and family members may require counseling and other support services to adapt to the realities of living with a brain injury and caring for a TBI person.

An attorney who has handled brain injury cases will be attuned to these issues and will understand how to build a case for maximum compensation to cover future needs.

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