Traumatic brain injuries represent the most severe head injury, where not only the skull but also the brain matter is affected. These injuries almost always require highly specialized medical care and long-term rehabilitation and physical therapy. While many people suffer this type of injury by accident, a significant percentage of cases involve someone else’s negligent action or intention to harm. In any of these situations, TBI victims can rely on the experience and compassion of a New Orleans brain injury lawyer from Wright & Gray Law Firm.
In this article, we will discuss the recovery forecasts for traumatic brain injury patients, the factors that influence recovery, as well as the reasons why these patients need an experienced New Orleans brain injury attorney. As we will explain in this article, recovery from TBI takes a lot of time. It is also extremely expensive, because the treatment options involve surgery, using modern technologies and patented drugs, as well as specialized physical, cognitive and emotional therapy.
All these add up to hefty monthly costs, which the average patient’s family cannot fully cover. If the patient was the main breadwinner in the family, the situation is even more dire. Apart from mounting healthcare and rehabilitation costs, the family has also lost its main source of income. An experienced New Orleans brain injury lawyer can help them regain at least their financial stability by identifying the person liable for their loved one’s severe head injury and winning the financial compensation that covers medical costs, expenses with assistance with activities of daily living, and other related expenses.
A Few Explanations about Traumatic Brain Injury
First of all, let us understand this injury: what it is, how it occurs, and how it impacts people. Traumatic brain injury is the result of a forceful blow, bump or jolt to the head. It can also be caused by a sharp object that penetrates the skull and created brain damage at the physical level.
A person can suffer from a severe head injury in many types of incidents:
- motor vehicle accidents
- sports injuries
- slip and fall
- a heavy object falling onto them
- violent attack (including gunshot wounds, domestic violence, attempted robbery)
- child abuse (including the shaken baby syndrome)
- combat injury to service members
Not all types of head injuries have the same levels of severity. Some people suffer a mild injury and may return to their normal activities in a few days. Others suffer from a skull fracture, persistent symptoms for long periods of time, and may never make a complete recovery and be able to perform even simple daily activities without assistance.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
According to the Cleveland Clinic, traumatic brain injuries are classified as:
- mild concussion – this is the most simple form of TBI. Its symptoms include the sensation of being “dazed” or losing consciousness for less than one hour and feeling confused for about one day.
- moderate TBI – in this instance, the dazed sensation lasts for more than one hour, and the reduced ability to perform cognitive tasks lasts for several days.
- severe TBI – the patient experiences loss of consciousness for more than one day, reduced ability to perform normal activities, and needs hospitalization and several tests, including CT scans and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).
From the point of view of how they occur, the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Strokes (NINDS) classifies traumatic brain injuries as:
- penetrating TBI (or open TBI): this type of injury involves a skull fracture and is usually caused by a sharp object or a gunshot. In this case, only one portion of the brain is damaged.
- non-penetrating TBI (or closed head injury): in this case, the outside force leaves the skull intact, but caused the entire brain to move inside it. In this case, several areas of the brain can be damaged.
Also, the injuries to the brain are of two types:
- primary injuries – occurring immediately after the traumatic event that caused the TBI
- secondary injuries – this type of secondary damage to the brain occurs gradually, over days, weeks, or even months after the blunt trauma accidents
Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries
The brain is the organ that controls all the vital functions, systems, and organs in our body. On par with spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury is the type of trauma that has the most severe impact on a person’s health. The wide spectrum of injury severity generates negative symptoms at several levels.
Physical symptoms include:
- loss of motor function (including paralysis, loss of proper balance)
- convulsions or seizures
- blurred vision
- difficulty swallowing
- difficulty lifting and holding objects
- difficulty with activities of daily living
- loss of control over bowel and bladder functions
Cognitive symptoms can include:
- decreased level of consciousness (difficulty waking up)
- cognitive difficulties (confusion and disorientation)
- reduced speed in cognitive tasks, such as speech, processing information, decision making
- memory problems
- changes in sleep patterns
Emotional symptoms can have long-lasting negative effects and include:
- risk of alcohol abuse
- risk of becoming addicted to illicit drugs
- emotional instability
- lack of motivation
- lack of inhibition
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, apart from these symptoms, people who suffered a traumatic brain injury are also at increased risk for:
- seizures – 50 times more likely
- drug poisoning – 11 times more likely
- infections – 9 times more likely
- pneumonia – 6 times more likely
Factors that Influence the Severity of Traumatic Brain Injuries
The impact of TBI on normal brain function and nervous system functions varies depending on several factors:
- whether the flow of blood is interrupted to the entire or a portion of the brain
- preexisting conditions, such as a neurological disease or blood clots
- single head injury or repetitive injuries
- fluid buildup in the brain after the injury
- genetic factors
- the placement and functions of the damaged individual brain cells
These factors are determined by health care professionals from details about injuries, the patients’ medical history, as well as various brain function tests using advanced diagnostic tools. They will determine both the immediate treatment plan during the acute care period and the types of care created by rehabilitation center specialists.
Treatment Outcomes for People with TBI
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published statistical data for cases of mild to severe TBI. The five-year outcome for these patients, according to the CDC, is:
- 22% lost their life
- 30% experienced worsening of symptoms
- 22% stayed in the same condition
- 20% improved their condition
Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified the additional factors that may influence the difference in people’s recovery chances. Thus, the following categories of patients may experience a slower recovery:
- older adults
- patients with a medical history of prior TBI or concussion
The Path to Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury
At the present, neuroscience and regenerative medicine are extremely advanced and have a fundamental knowledge of how individual brain cells work. Each concussion injury specialist now has access to various brain studies, including preclinical studies and observational studies explaining the evolution of the injury under various types of care.
At the same time, the treatment strategies available to doctors are now highly advanced, not only in terms of surgery, recovering vital organ functions, and preventing brain cell death, but also in terms of creating a long-term rehabilitation and physical activity program.
For patients, it is critical to trust their team of health care specialists and stop believing myths, such as the two-year recovery myth. This used to be a concept that medical care staff used to believe, prior to the development of modern hospital strategies and assessment tools. It stated that TBI patients make improvements in their condition during the first two years after the injury.
Various NINDS-funded studies, including Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in TBI clinical study indicate that, indeed, many patients make significant progress from the initial assessments during the first 12 months.
However, additional studies, including Long Term Outcome after Traumatic Brain Injuries indicate that some patients continue making improvements even 5 and 10 years after their injury.
Recovery from TBI involves two stages:
1. Acute Care Period
The acute care period starts as soon as possible after the incident. It is important to call 9-1-1 and ask for an ambulance even after a common injury to the head. The emergency care staff will focus on:
- removing fragments of bone and other foreign objects
- protecting the skull surface
- restoring blood flow
- preventing fluid buildup and blood clots in the brain
- maintaining the blood pressure within a normal range
- providing immediate symptom relief
- preventing complications, such as traumatic encephalopathy
- analyzing the critical factors that may influence the outcome assessment
The treatment options available to your health care provider include preventing infections and administering a neurological exam that will assess the condition of the brain surface after brain injury and the extent of the damage. Together with specialized, robot-assisted surgery, these are part of the standard care across treatment centers across the US. The advancements in neuroscience and regenerative medicine give patients a better chance of survival and improvement of condition in adults and children.
2. Rehabilitation Phase
When the hospital staff decides that the patient is stable, they are usually moved to a rehabilitation center. Here, they will spend the longest part of the recovery, either until complete recovery or until the rehabilitation team determine that the patient has reached the point of maximum medical improvement.
As part of the rehabilitation phase, patients will receive neuropsychological tests to assess their motor, cognitive and mental status. The results will determine the differences in care plans and the necessary cognitive rehabilitation interventions. The rehabilitation team will also create a physical activity program for the patient to help restore motor function and improve treatment outcomes for people with TBI.
Moreover, the rehabilitation team will create an individualized diet plan with a balance of nutrients that help restore individual cells in the brain and prevent further damage to the affected ones (secondary injuries).
The duration of the rehabilitation phase depends on the rate of recovery, including the mental health conditions that the patient may develop as a result of the TBI.
The Impact of TBI on a Person’s Life
Almost all types of head injuries changes- a person’s life forever. Even after complete recovery, this event is one of the additional factors that may negatively impact their health in the future. However, many patients never recover normal brain function and nervous system functions. They are faced with cognitive difficulties, a reduced level of consciousness, and other persistent symptoms that impact their normal activities, including activities of daily living.
They are no longer able to perform complex cognitive tasks, thus, they are not able to return to their work. A New Orleans brain injury attorney may be able to help victims recover compensation for loss of future income.
TBI Prevention Strategies
NINDS has devised a series of effective prevention strategies to reduce the number of people suffering traumatic brain injuries. They were devised after a detailed study of adults and children with TBI, looking at the causes of their injury and other additional studies on brain injury prevention. The recommendations made both by NINDS and the National Center for Injury Prevention include:
- wearing the safety belt in the car at all times, both as a driver and a passenger
- using nonslip mats in the bathroom
- installing stair safety gates and window guards
How a New Orleans Brain Injury Lawyer Works with Your Rehabilitation Team
While the role of rehabilitation therapists is to help you improve your condition through a physical activity program and cognitive rehabilitation therapy, the brain injury lawyer in New Orleans will work on your financial compensatory strategies.
The amount of money you are entitled to receive from the person at fault for the accident that caused your injury depends on several factors:
- the medical care bills you’ve accumulated, including hospital bills and rehabilitation center bills
- lost wages while you were in hospital and in the rehabilitation center
- loss of earning capacity if you do not make a complete recovery and are left with cognitive difficulties
- the types of care you may need for the long term, including assistance with daily activities
- the mental and emotional difficulties you have to face
Your New Orleans brain injury attorney will compare the initial assessments made by emergency care staff with the outcome assessment of the rehabilitation team. This analysis will allow them to determine how much normal brain function you’ve recovered and whether the long-term effects of TBI will negatively impact your mental and emotional state, as well your ability to perform normal activities that you usually enjoyed.
All these issues are critical in determining the amount of economic and non-economic damages you are entitled to receive.
At Wright & Gray, you will find an experienced and compassionate New Orleans brain injury attorney. Whether you were a victim of domestic violence or an accident due to someone else’s fault, our Louisiana personal injury lawyers will fight on your behalf. We work closely with your health care provider and rehabilitation team to determine the fair compensation you deserve. Talk to us about your case: 888-912-4944!