I recently read an article that stated that a person sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the United States every 21 seconds. In fact, the same article indicated that traumatic brain injuries occur more frequently and affect more people than breast cancer, AIDS, and Alzheimer’s disease combined. At first, I found these statistics surprising. I even questioned their accuracy despite having personally represented numerous traumatic brain injury victims over the years. Then, after further thought, the statistics made sense. It also reminded me that many times traumatic brain injuries go undiagnosed for weeks, months, and even years after an accident. In fact, some accident victims may never fully realize that they have sustained such an injury even though they and those around them feel that something just isn’t right.
One of the keys to recovery from a traumatic brain injury is prompt recognition. Once the extent and nature of the injury is determined, a treatment plan can be crafted that best meets the needs of the injured person. Further, diagnosis allows the injured person to come to grips with the new life that has been cast on them and it gives family and friends the opportunity to become a critically important support team.
So you might ask – How do I know if someone has suffered such an injury? First, consider the nature of the accident. Did the injured person hit their head? Did they sustain a complete or partial loss of consciousness? Traumatic brain injuries can be caused in a number of ways including car crashes, falls, occupational injuries, contact sports, and physical assault.
It’s helpful to know the signs and symptoms of such an injury. Outward evidence of a traumatic brain injury can develop immediately after an accident, but can also reveal itself over time. Further, signs and symptoms can range from the obvious to the subtle. Some of the more common include: loss of memory, dizziness, loss of balance, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), blurred vision, headaches, altered sense of taste and/or smell, personality changes, depression, reduced concentration, and impaired judgment.
Pediatricians often tell new parents that they will instinctively know when their child is sick enough to require a trip to the doctor. An innate sense will warn the parent that their child is not acting like themselves. The same can be true for loved ones who have suffered a traumatic brain injury. Some brain injuries are obvious, but many are not. In fact, many times only those close family members and friends who know the injured person best will recognize that a change has occurred. Sometimes the person who has suffered a mild traumatic brain injury is not aware of the injury themselves. If someone you know exhibits clear signs of a brain injury after an accident or is no longer acting like themselves, he or she might be one of the Americans who suffer such an injury every 21 seconds. If so, they need the assistance of a trained medical professional as well as your love and support.
About the Author: Jason Konvicka is a Richmond brain injury attorney. He has handled cases involving TBI, hypoxic brain injury and birth related injuries.