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Brain Injuries: Everything You Need To Know

Brain Injuries: Everything You Need To Know

The Madison injury attorneys at Boller & Vaughan understand the life-changing physical, financial and emotional challenges faced by brain injury victims and their family members.

If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury due to another’s negligence, please call 608-268-0268 to arrange your free consultation. Our skilled lawyers are dedicated to helping injury victims pursue the financial security they need in order to recover medically and move forward with their lives.

Defining Brain Injuries

Brain injuries are most often the result of a traumatic force that jars the brain, such as the impact of a motor vehicle accident. But brain injuries can also be caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, which may occur during a stroke or other medical emergency that disrupts blood flow to the brain.

There are different forms of brain injuries, and their effects may be temporary, permanent or fatal depending on the location of the injury and the extent of damage. It is important here to distinguish brain injuries from brain damage; brain injuries cause brain damage, but brain damage can also be the result of any factors that contribute to the degeneration or destruction of brain cells.

Brain injuries include any harm to the brain that leads to an alteration or loss of brain function. Because your brain acts in part as your body’s computer, receiving and sending signals throughout the body and controlling bodily functions, a brain injury can have widespread physical, cognitive and developmental consequences.

Types of Brain Injuries

There are two primary categories of brain injuries: traumatic brain injuries and acquired brain injuries. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are the most common, and they encompass brain injuries that are the result of external force; acquired brain injuries include those that occur after birth and are not caused by physical trauma.

Within the TBI category, there are also different types of brain injuries classified by the circumstances that contribute to the injury and resulting damage. Types of TBIs common in motor vehicle collisions include:

  • Concussion: Sometimes categorized as a minor TBI, a concussion may be sustained due to a direct blow to the head or from the force of a whiplash-type injury. A concussion may result in a brief loss of consciousness, and it may be accompanied by a sense of disorientation and temporary impairment of brain function.
  • Coup-Contrecoup Injuries: A coup brain injury occurs at the site of impact, while a contrecoup injury occurs on the side of the brain opposite the impact site. A coup-contrecoup injury occurs when the force is substantial enough to cause initial damage at the site of the trauma, then slams the brain into the opposite side of the skull, causing additional damage.
  • Diffuse Axonal Injury: A diffuse axonal injury is a brain injury caused by a forceful rotation of the head or by strong rotational forces that cause the otherwise stationary brain to delay in moving with the skull. The sudden movement can tear or sever brain structures and disrupt brain function.
  • Penetrating Brain Injury: A penetrating brain injury occurs when an object penetrates the skull and carries hair, skin, bone and other fragments into the brain. In addition to the exterior harm, the object that causes a penetrating brain injury can cause severe internal damage to the brain.
  • Second-Impact Syndrome: Also referred to as recurrent TBI, second-impact syndrome is the result of sustaining a secondary TBI before the brain has recovered from an initial TBI. This secondary impact carries with it a heightened risk for brain swelling and debilitating damage.

TBIs can result from closed-head injuries as well as open-head injuries. Closed-head injuries are those in which the skull has not been fractured or penetrated.

Symptoms of Brain Injuries

One of the dangers of brain injuries is that their effects are not always immediately noticeable. Indicators of brain injuries are also diverse and vary widely depending on the type of injury and other factors.

Physical symptoms of brain injuries include but are not limited to:

  • Lacerations, contusions, hematomas, depressions or other visible deformities on the head
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness or disorientation
  • Headaches
  • Sudden drowsiness or sense of fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Clear or pink liquid seeping from the nose, ears or a scalp wound
  • Pupils of unequal sizes
  • Pupils that do not respond to light
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands, fingers, feet or toes
  • Loss of physical sensations
  • Loss of motor functions
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures

Sensory symptoms of brain injuries include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Changes in the ability to smell or taste

Cognitive and mental indicators of brain injuries may include:

  • Amnesia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sudden feelings of anxiety or depression
  • Sudden mood swings or changes in behavior
  • Slurred speech

If you or a loved one was involved in any incident that involved a blow to the head, or a jarring force to the head and neck, it’s important to undergo a medical evaluation as soon as possible. Early diagnosis of brain injuries is critical to treatment and mitigating the potential long-term or fatal effects.

Brain Injury Recovery Time

While the effects of some brain injuries are temporary and will vanish with time and treatment, other brain injuries—particularly traumatic brain injuries—can result in permanent disability or cause death.

Full recovery from a concussion, for example, is possible, although it may require a few weeks to a few years. Moderate to severe TBIs may necessitate years of therapy to regain full or partial functionality.

Severe brain injuries can result in minimally responsive or vegetative states, and many brain injury victims need lifetime care.

Brain Injury Resources

Following are some resources that can help you better understand brain injuries as well as the treatment options available:

  • Wisconsin Department of Health Services: In Wisconsin, traumatic brain injury units are managed by the Division of Quality Assurance, and the state offers a dedicated TBI page with consumer information about facilities that provide care to those who have suffered brain injuries.
  • The Brain Injury Alliance of Wisconsin (BIAW): The BIAW is a nonprofit organization that provides education, information and support services to Wisconsin brain injury survivors and their families.
  • The Mayo Clinic: The world-renowned Mayo Clinic offers a wealth of information about traumatic brain injuries, brain injury diagnosis, TBI treatments and support for family members of brain injury victims.
  • Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA): The BIAA is committed to advancing brain injury research, treatment and education, and improving the quality of life for those affected by brain injury; the organization’s site features in-depth information about brain injuries as well as access to a network of state affiliates and support groups.
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH): Through its dedicated TBI information page, the NIH provides details about brain injuries, treatment options and support organizations, as well as information about ongoing clinical trials for TBI treatment.

If you or a loved one sustained a brain injury due to the negligence of another, or if a family member suffered wrongful death due to a brain injury caused by another’s carelessness, it’s advisable to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable attorney.

Please contact Boller & Vaughan online or call us at 608-268-0268 to schedule your free consultation with one of our accomplished personal injury lawyers. We are proud to fight for the rights of injury victims from the greater Madison, Wisconsin, area.