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Long-Term Effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries

CAT scan with caption: "long ter effects of TBI"

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are a main cause of emergency department visits and deaths in the United States. There are an average of 586 hospitalizations and 190 deaths related to traumatic brain injuries daily. If a victim survives a TBI, he or she could suffer a wide range of long-term physical, emotional and cognitive effects.

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury describes an injury to the brain’s tissues, cells or other parts due to a source of external trauma, such as blunt-force trauma to the skull or an object hitting or striking the head. An acquired brain injury, on the other hand, refers to damage caused by internal issues, such as a stroke or hypoxia (lack of oxygen).

What Causes Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Any incident that places an individual at risk of suffering a bump, blow or jolt to the head or skull can result in a traumatic brain injury. Common examples include motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle and bicycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, physical assaults, sports impacts, and diving incidents. Penetrating brain injuries may also occur due to explosions and violent crimes, such as gunshot wounds.

Acute TBI Symptoms

When an accident victim sustains a traumatic brain injury, he or she may notice one or multiple symptoms right away (acute symptoms).

Although every case is unique, common acute symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of consciousness or coma

No two brain injuries are exactly alike. Anyone who is involved in an accident where the head or skull is impacted should visit a doctor for an immediate checkup to detect a potential brain injury.

Cognitive Impairment

When the brain suffers trauma of any kind, the victim can experience changes to and deficits in cognitive functioning. The brain’s processes may be disrupted by the injury or damaged to a degree that inflicts long-term or permanent cognitive dysfunction. A TBI could lead to issues with focus, concentration, memory, learning, processing speed, multitasking and problem-solving. These issues may or may not resolve on their own with time and/or treatment.

Trouble Communicating

Many individuals who suffer traumatic brain injuries experience trouble communicating with others. A TBI can lead to problems with thinking, comprehension, language and communication. A brain injury survivor may have difficulty speaking or understanding others speak, following conversations, and reading and writing. This can make it difficult for victims to organize their thoughts in a coherent way, empathize with others or find the right words to express themselves.

Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Changes

Brain injuries are unique in that they can result in changes to a victim’s emotions, behaviors and personality in addition to physical or cognitive deficits. The brain is responsible for regulating emotion and mood.

An injury to the brain can lead to survivors experiencing emotional and behavioral disturbances, including irritability, agitation, mood swings, outbursts and increased impulsivity. In some cases, a TBI survivor may exhibit changes in his or her personality or develop new psychiatric disorders, such as depression or chronic anxiety.

Mania, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychotic disorders, sleep disorders and substance abuse disorders are all psychological outcomes that can be associated with brain injuries. Trouble making decisions and adapting to new situations may also arise.

Physical Disability

In addition to the invisible effects of a TBI, brain injuries can also cause physical conditions and impairments. A blow or jolt to the head that injures the brain could lead to a victim suffering a lifelong physical disability.

Examples include weakness or paralysis in one or multiple limbs, lack of coordination or balance, trouble with fine motor skills, chronic nerve pain, tremors or involuntary movements, and seizures or epilepsy.

Sensory Deficits

Traumatic brain injuries can affect the senses and how victims perceive the world around them. For example, a TBI victim may experience ongoing tinnitus (a ringing in the ears) that affects hearing, as well as blurred or double vision and a heightened sensitivity to light and noise. These issues can be disorienting to debilitating.

Social Challenges

TBI survivors may suffer social challenges from their injuries. The emotional, behavioral and cognitive changes they experience as symptoms of their injuries can interfere with their ability to form new relationships or maintain existing ones. A victim may also have trouble picking up on social cues and regulating their emotions.

Reduced Quality of Life

The cumulative effects of a brain injury can impact the victim’s overall quality and enjoyment of life. A TBI can limit a victim’s ability to participate in activities and hobbies that he or she used to enjoy, such as engaging in sports or recreational activities, spending time with family, and playing with kids. Brain injuries can also lead to sleep disturbances that result in chronic fatigue.

The ability to pursue educational or career goals may also be affected by a brain injury. A TBI victim with a permanent disability may never be able to work at full capacity, resulting in a lifelong loss of the ability to earn wages or income. In severe cases, brain injuries can take away victims’ independence, requiring them to live with aides or caregivers for the rest of their lives.

Increased Health Risks

Someone who suffers a moderate to severe TBI as a child or young adult could have an increased risk of neurological effects later in life. Studies show that traumatic brain injury survivors are at an increased risk of developing degenerative brain diseases, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Brain injuries can also enhance morbidity and mortality rates.

Financial Compensation for Traumatic Brain Injury Victims

A traumatic brain injury can leave a victim with long-lasting or irreversible changes to his or her physical abilities, cognitive skills, emotions, mental health and behaviors. Although no amount of money is enough to make up for a serious or life-changing injury, collecting fair financial compensation from the person or party responsible can allow a victim to move forward with greater peace of mind.

To discuss the possibility of filing a personal injury claim in Texas for a traumatic brain injury, request a free consultation with the Austin brain injury lawyers at FVF Law. We have over 100 years of combined experience. Call us at (512) 640-2146 today.

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