Brain injuries: what you should know

Brain injuries can result in devastating, life-long consequences.

Any type of brain injury can have a huge physical and psychological impact on the victim. Serious brain injuries can even be fatal, and all head trauma has the potential to cause lifelong consequences without prompt, proper medical treatment. Information provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals the scope of brain injuries across America: an estimated 1.7 million people suffer one each year, resulting in nearly 1.4 million emergency room visits. More than 275,000 people are hospitalized annually because of traumatic brain injury (TBI), and 52,000 of those injuries will prove to be fatal.

Some studies indicate that direct medical expenditures, lost wages, lost productivity and other related costs of brain injuries total around $60 billion each year.

Causes of brain injuries

According to the CDC, falls are the most common cause of brain injuries, representing over 35 percent of the annual TBI cases across the country. The majority of fall-related brain injuries happened to the very young (between the ages of birth and four), and the elderly (those over the age of 65). Motor vehicle accidents also represent a large portion of brain injury cases, comprising about 17 percent of yearly brain trauma, and car crashes account for the largest percentage of TBI-related fatalities regardless of age or other demographic breakdown.

Other common causes include:

  • Assaults/crime
  • Contact sports
  • Being struck by or against something (including falling objects and sports equipment like baseball bats, tennis rackets or hockey sticks)

The lasting impact of brain injuries and head trauma

Brain injuries are particularly invasive and life-altering because the symptoms can be felt in the body long after external wounds have healed. If, for example, someone suffers a TBI in a car accident, the gashes or cuts on their head may heal within a matter of weeks, but they could still suffer persistent headaches, dizziness or difficulty concentrating for months - even years - down the road. Other signs, symptoms and lasting effects of brain trauma include:

  • Memory loss (both short-term, with difficulty making new memories, and long-term, with some patients experiencing gaps in recollection going back years before their injury)
  • Personality changes (including irritability, aggression, depression, anxiety and the development of post-traumatic stress disorder/PTSD)
  • Balance difficulties and dizziness
  • "Brain fog" (the inability to focus or concentrate, slowed reaction times or difficulty processing higher thoughts at the same level as before the injury)
  • Chronic fatigue or pain
  • Paralysis or loss of motor function, sensation or speech

Any brain injury, even one characterized as "mild" or "moderate," can have a significant, lasting impact on your life. If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury as a result of the negligence of another person or business, you may be able to bring a legal claim to recover compensation for your losses. For more information about possible legal options, contact the Law Offices of James L. O'Rourke online or by calling 203-864-4427.