Whether from a motor vehicle or work accident, a brain injury is a serious, long-term circumstance to deal with. According to Family Caregiver Alliance, brain injuries are the cause of about 5.3 million Americans now living with disabilities, and every year about 2.5 million more people will sustain a brain injury. If you or a loved one has experienced a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, you need to be informed about it and the effect it will have on your life.
It's not always obvious when you have a TBI. Symptoms may not appear until long after the accident, and there can be no external signs of injury. If you seem fine, watch out for the following symptoms in the weeks after your accident:
- Memory loss
- Trouble learning, communicating or paying attention
- Diminished balance or motor control
- Changes in personality or behavior, such as aggression or mood swings
Types of brain injuries
Traumatic brain injuries make up many kinds of damage to the brain. The most common type is a concussion, which is when you temporarily lose consciousness in reaction to injuring your head. It's a minor type, but it still has lifelong effects. Contrecoup results from the brain shaking around in the skull, a common occurrence in certain motor vehicle accident victims. Hematoma is when there is heavy bleeding in or around the brain. Anoxia and hypoxia refer to the absence or decrease in the supply of oxygen to the brain. Shearing (diffuse axonal injury) is the loss of neuron connections due to nerve damage.
Other brain injuries include open or closed head wounds, skull fractures and contusions. Many of these injuries are interconnected and can occur simultaneously. It's important to know that although there are distinct types of head trauma, brain injuries are unique to each person.
The long-term care for someone with a brain injury can be complex. Although doctors can test for damage severity, they can't predict how you will recover. No two injuries are alike, and there are many factors to consider, so there isn't one standard of care or recovery. However, healing typically takes months to years, and a rehabilitation program will be necessary. Your recovery team may include neurologists, physiatrists, neuropsychologists and various therapists. You may also need in-home assistance and a support group for your family. All of this requires money that you may not have. You need to hire legal representation to obtain the compensation you're entitled to for your brain injury, whether it was the result of an auto, job or medical accident.