Brain Injury FAQs
Answers from Skilled Norfolk Personal Injury Lawyers
What is traumatic brain injury (TBI?)
A traumatic brain injury is caused by physical force to the skull, perhaps as the result of impact during a motor accident, fall or attack. Brain injuries may also be the result of a lack of oxygen to the brain due to certain medical conditions or negligence during a medical procedure; these are known as non-traumatic or acquired brain injuries.
A “mild” TBI is characterized by temporary loss of consciousness, change of mental state, or variations in mood or behavior. “Severe” TBIs can lead to longer periods of unconsciousness, mental health issues, and death.
How common is traumatic brain injury?
According to a report published by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control there are approximately 235,000 serious brain injuries in the United States each year. In Virginia, studies show that one in every 50 people who suffer a traumatic brain injury requires lifelong care.
What causes TBI?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Center for Injury Prevention and Control list the leading causes of TBI as:
- Falls (28%)
- Motor vehicle-traffic accidents (20%)
- Struck by/against events (19%)
- Assaults (11%)
TBIs are also commonly suffered by athletes, especially athletes playing rough sports like football, soccer, or hockey. Many NFL players have suffered repeated brain injuries, and there is evidence that even a slight concussion can cause damage to the brain.
Is a traumatic brain injury always dangerous?
Any kind of impact to the brain is potentially dangerous, although it is usually impossible to predict how much damage has been caused at the time of an accident. TBI cases can become apparent only after a considerable length of time after the initial accident, due to the fact that changes in neurological function can be subtle. It is difficult to assess how a TBI victim will react over a period of time; some make a quick recovery, and others are left facing far more serious consequences.
How can I tell if I have TBI?
Because the brain is such a complex organ, the signs and symptoms of a brain injury may not be noticed until days or weeks after the injury. Traumatic brain injury patients may appear normal to the eye, but exhibit changes in behavior or mental status that range from subtle to extreme. The symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can vary dramatically.
Seek medical advice if you experience these warning signs:
- Loss of consciousness
- Severe headache
- Inability to move after suffering a blow to the head
What are the possible long-term effects and costs of TBI?
TBI may be responsible for a wide range of changes in the individual’s physical and mental health including:
- Complete or partial paralysis
- Sensory loss or impairment
- Loss of sexual function
- Memory problems
- Learning difficulties
TBI can affect any of the brain’s activities and functions over the long term, including language, movement, thinking, and emotions. These effects may get better or worse over time. Patients may even need long-term assistance to perform daily tasks.
Long-term medical care and daily assistance are very expensive, especially when the TBI patient is unable to work due to his or her injury. Nationally, TBI-related costs add up to tens of billions of dollars. Therefore, you may need a lawyer with knowledge of brain injury cases to help you get compensation now for these long-term costs.
It is not just the TBI patient who suffers in cases where long-term medical care is needed. The financial pressures on family members from supporting a long-term TBI patient can be devastating. Moreover, the psychological and behavioral changes associated with brain injuries may put stress on even the healthiest family relationships.
What is the impact on the family of a traumatic brain injury victim?
Families struggle to cope with the changes in their loved one’s condition. They may have to learn how to care for specific physical disabilities, and the psychological consequences of traumatic brain injury can strain the most loving relationships. In addition to this, medical bills and loss of earnings can result in undue financial pressures.
Does one have to lose consciousness to suffer a traumatic brain injury?
No. Although losing consciousness immediately or shortly after a blow to the head is a bad sign, many people suffer traumatic brain injuries without ever losing consciousness.
When should I seek medical attention for a blow to the head?
It is impossible to tell which head impacts will result in brain injury. You may be susceptible to a brain injury even if you wear a helmet or hard hat. If the jolt felt serious, if you experience any symptoms of brain injury, or if you feel generally unwell, it is best to seek medical attention. Because of the potentially serious consequences, it is better to see the doctor unnecessarily than miss detecting a lethal brain injury until it is too late.
What are the symptoms of a brain injury?
Brain injuries can be difficult to diagnose and treat because their symptoms mimic other medical problems, and often times, the symptoms of a TBI do not even manifest themselves until well after the incident occurred. Some of the more common symptoms are:
- Visual problems
- Concentration problems
- Memory problems
- Difficulty with verbal control
How long does it take for symptoms of brain injury to show up?
Some symptoms of serious brain injury are immediately apparent, but others may take days, weeks, months, or years to show up. Studies have shown that if you suffer a second minor head injury within a short period of time, your chances of experiencing serious brain injury increases dramatically.
Does a normal MRI following a blow or jolt to the head mean I have escaped traumatic brain injury?
Not necessarily. Although MRIs are capable of detecting some types of brain injury, they cannot rule out the possibility of brain injury. In fact, a recent study showed that MRIs were able to detect abnormal brain function in only 18% of subjects with post-concussive psychiatric symptoms, compared to 40% detection using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and 86% using the experimental technique magnetoencephalography (MEG).
How can I protect myself from traumatic brain injury?
The best way to protect yourself is to exercise caution when doing any activity that may result in traumatic brain injury. Wear protective gear while participating in sports, especially when motorcycling, biking, or skiing. If you work in a construction site or other hazardous workplace, where a hard hat or other safety gear. When buying a car, consider the results of crash safety tests to determine whether brain injury is likely following an auto accident.
When should I consult a Norfolk brain lawyer about an injury?
It is best to contact a lawyer as soon as you or someone you love has been involved in a traumatic event, such as an auto accident or slip and fall and you received any type of blow to the head. This allows you to learn more about your options, and avoid accidentally compromising your rights.
Where can I get legal advice on traumatic brain injury?
Contact a qualified Norfolk brain injury attorney at the Virginia law firm of Kalfus & Nachman PC for a free review of your case. Our personal injury lawyers have represented TBI victims in Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Roanoke, Virginia Beach, and other communities. Our convenient office locations can be reached online or by phone at (855) 880-8163.