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Everything You Should Know About Brain Injuries

Doctor showing patient brain scan

Brain injury causes more deaths and disabilities worldwide than any other traumatic event. Despite considerable medical improvements over the last decade, regulations and laws continue to be barriers to treatment and care. According to the International Brain Injury Association (IBIA), there are an estimated 5.3 million Americans living today with a disability related to a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Traumatic brain injuries are frequently severe and can have long-term and irreversible consequences for the victim. A simple concussion might result in lasting damage, necessitating brain surgery, considerable medical bills, and loss of significant work time. Even though the effects of a concussion might be severe at times, most people recover entirely in time. Unfortunately, there are occasions where a Traumatic Brain Injury can result in a coma or even death in severe situations. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are my legal rights if I sustain a brain injury? 

A: Your legal claim is dependent on the specifics of the brain injury. Slip and fall incidents, car accidents, intentional harm (such as fights), and other impacts are typically classified as personal injury or premises liability. In some situations, a separate criminal action may be taken.

Q: Can my doctor predict the long-term consequences of a traumatic brain injury? 

A: TBI is an internal damage that can be difficult to detect. However, as science and technology improve, many medical experts can make educated decisions concerning the patient's condition. 

Q: If I launch a traumatic brain injury suit, do I have to present in court? 

A: Fortunately, there are many situations in which your lawsuit can be settled without going to court. However, there will be circumstances when you will need to appear in court in order to receive the full compensation you deserve. 

Q: What are some of the most common causes of TBI? 

A: TBIs are commonly related with car accidents, slips and falls, and sports injuries. However, there are also additional scenarios in which you could incur a TBI, such as sustaining a jolt or being knocked on the head. 

Q: Will I get workers' compensation if I've sustained a traumatic brain injury on the job? 

A: Yes, you may be qualified for workers' compensation if you or a loved one suffers a Traumatic Brain Injury on the job. It often depends on the specifics of your condition, which is why you should consult with a workers' compensation attorney so they can examine your damage and help you get the compensation you deserve.  

Diagnosing TBI

Traumatic Brain Injury can develop and be diagnosed when a victim is subjected to head trauma or significant rotational forces that cause them to lose consciousness, become dazed and confused, and experience amnesia, headaches, or other symptoms. The true issue in TBI diagnosis is determining the nature, extent, intensity, and outcome of these injuries.

You can get a CT and/or an MRI scan to better detect a TBI. Even though these tests are now often used worldwide to diagnose brain injuries, they, unfortunately, do not always detect all TBIs. They can, however, help health professionals rule out some of the more serious potential brain injuries, such as a brain bleed. 

With little that can be done to undo the harm already done, researchers are working every day to produce better and more efficient medical equipment in the hopes of assisting patients on their journey to recovery. 

The Short and Long-Term Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries have been shown to have long-term consequences, whether they emerge immediately or over time. Many persons who suffer from traumatic brain injuries, depending on the severity of the injury, have difficulty reintegrating into daily life. The majority of the visible issues include, but are not limited to, communication barriers, psychological changes, sensory issues, and behavioral changes. 

Some of the most common short-term changes you will notice are vision changes, abrupt migraines, difficulties with balance, and problems concentrating. Fortunately, short-term effects typically last up to 90 days, and people usually recover within a week. 

However, long-term effects can be more frightening, and they ultimately depend on which portion of the brain was damaged after the injury. If the frontal lobe of the brain is injured, an individual may have difficulty problem-solving and planning. When the left side of the brain is injured, it can have a substantial impact because it can directly cause problems with logic, communication, or simply stringing sentences together. Furthermore, an injury to the right side of the brain can be as equally as frightening due to the fact that an injury to this side of your brain can cause vision issues and apraxia, which can severely impede an individual's ability to complete routine everyday tasks.

Employee Rights When Suffering From TBI

As you might have acknowledged, having just one long-lasting effect can have a negative impact on both your personal and professional life. One of the most challenging tasks for someone recuperating from a TBI is returning to work. Fortunately, there are a number of employment rights that can make the journey back to work after a TBI smoother. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of them. Employees must offer reasonable accommodations for an employee under the ADA, which may include, but are not limited to, shorter work hours, longer rests during the work day, lower duties, and potentially even shifting the employee into a new function that is more accommodating for the individual.

Furthermore, because a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may demand a lengthy period of hospitalization for medical stabilization, people may be out of work for a significant period of time, usually immediately after the incident. Because a TBI generally has long-term consequences, people may continue to miss work in the coming months or even years. As a result, knowing your rights as an employee is crucial.

The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)is another excellent resource for individuals or family members experiencing a medical emergency. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal workplace rights law that allows employees to take an unpaid leave of absence for oneself or immediate family members needing hospital care, rehabilitation centers, or other facilities who are unable to take care of their own basic medical needs, hygiene, safety, or dietary needs. FMLA also mandates certain employers to retain job positions open for employees who take time from work to care for an immediate family member suffering from a serious health condition.

Traumatic Brain Injury In Workers Compensation

Accidents in the workplace can happen instantly but have long-term consequences. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private industry employers reported 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2019. As you can expect, as more businesses hire employees, that number will most certainly continue to climb.

If you fell and injured your head on the job, or if another factor caused you to develop a head injury, you may be eligible for workers' compensation. Workers' compensation is defined by FindLaw as a system of compensation that permits employees who are injured at work to receive money for lost income, medical expenses, and occupational rehabilitation expenses regardless of their personal carelessness or responsibility. If you suspect you have suffered a head injury as a result of a workplace accident, the first thing you should do is seek medical assistance. You can begin the process of filing for workers' compensation once you have been cleared by a medical expert. 

Workers' compensation regulations can be intimidating and difficult to understand for the average person. That is why, regardless of the accident you experience at work, whether it is a broken bone, a burn, or even a head injury, you need a workers' compensation attorney to assist you in navigating the legal system and obtaining the reimbursement you deserve. 

Legislation On Traumatic Brain Injury 

Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 1996 

The TBI Act of 1996 was passed by Congress on a bipartisan basis during the summer of 1996. This Act highlighted the importance of TBI as a significant and preventable health issue. President Clinton signed this bill into law only twenty-two days later. This statute served two purposes for Congress. The first goal was to reduce the occurrence of TBI, and the second was to improve access to medical treatments for people who had had a TBI. 

Prior to the signing of this bill, the public had limited knowledge and understanding of the long-term implications of sustaining a TBI. This law authorized authorities to conduct research by awarding grants to public and nonprofit groups. Since the Act's inception in 1996, the government has reauthorized it four times, the most recent being the TBI Program Reauthorization Act of 2018. Furthermore, in the mid-2000s, the government authorized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to collaborate with military agencies to report on TBI among veterans returning to the United States after deployment and to collect data on how they adjusted back into civilian life. The goal was to better understand the impact of a TBI on soldiers returning home and to get them the help they needed.  

The Three Levels Of A Traumatic Brain Injury

Mild

The vast majority of TBIs that occur each year are minor. A jolt or blow to the head can result in a mild TBI. Unfortunately, most people do not seek medical attention immediately after sustaining a minor TBI, but rather seek assistance from their general care physicians days or weeks later. This can be extremely harmful to the individual because there may have been a more serious problem that required immediate attention. 

Moderate

A moderate TBI occurs when an individual experiences some type of change in brain function following a trauma that lasts more than a few minutes. When compared to mild TBI, severe TBI has a higher risk of death. Expect long-term difficulties with school, employment, relationships, and old activities if a person has survived a moderate TBI. 

Severe

A severe TBI is the most serious type of TBI. A severe TBI can cause numerous acute and long-term problems. A severe TBI is most usually accompanied with motor function loss, brain function alterations, memory loss, and emotional disorders such as depression, impulse control, anxiety, and others. 

Car Accidents and Traumatic Brain Injury

According to a National Library of Medicine article, while violence and industrial accidents account for a major share of TBIs worldwide, road traffic accidents (RTA) are one of the leading contributors, accounting for an estimated 60% of TBIs.

During a car collision, you are vulnerable to a variety of injuries caused by the quick movement of the vehicle, such as your head hitting the steering wheel or door glass. Most TBIs, on the other hand, are caused by whiplash, which can lead to your brain shifting inside of your skull, resulting in a concussion and short unconsciousness or confusion. There are extra dangers of brain injury in automobile accidents, such as penetrating TBI, which occurs when a foreign item penetrates your skull and brain tissue. 

Auto accident attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve regardless of the type of car you were driving at the time of the accident. If you or a loved one has been wounded in a car accident and you feel the accident caused a Traumatic Brain Injury, you must seek medical attention first. You will need to speak with devoted and experienced auto accident attorneys once you have been released from the hospital. 

Can the brain recover after an injury?

Most studies, according to John Hopkins Medicine, indicate that once brain cells are lost or injured, they do not regenerate. However, recovery from a brain injury is possible, especially in younger people, because other areas of the brain can compensate for the injured tissue in some situations. Each brain injury and healing rate is distinct. In the presence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), recovery from a catastrophic brain injury may require a lengthy or lifelong process of treatment and rehabilitation that may go undiagnosed for many years. 

What Is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

Significant attention has lately been brought to the potential link between head trauma and the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The Mayo Clinic defines Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) as brain deterioration caused by repeated head traumas that can only be found after analyzing portions of the brain during an autopsy. 

CTE is most typically identified in athletes such as football players and boxers, but it can also be detected in soldiers who have come into contact with explosive blasts. Contrary to popular assumption, CTE is not just caused by repeated concussions; it can develop over time as a result of minor repetitive hits to the head that do not always result in concussions. Even if you do not partake in these activities, you have a good probability of developing CTE. 

CTE does not occur in everyone who has had a brain injury or has been subjected to repeated head blows. Indeed, research has yet to show how many or which persons who are subjected to repetitive injuries may acquire this illness. Unfortunately, CTE cannot be discovered while a person is alive, except in rare cases where the person is at high risk of exposure. Furthermore, there is no cure for CTE, although researchers are working on developing a diagnostic to detect early signs of CTE.

Traumatic Brain Injury and Medical Malpractice

Hospitals are supposed to be healing environments. They are the places you go when you are ill or sick and require the assistance of well-educated, highly trained, and trusted specialists. You may believe that the only way to sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury is to receive a large blow to the head, which is mostly correct. However, there are other circumstances that can result in a Traumatic Brain Injury, one of which is Medical Malpractice.  NOLO defines medical malpractice as any time a patient is harmed by a doctor or other medical professional who fails to competently fulfill their medical duties. Misdiagnosis of a head injury, anesthetic errors, mistreatment (often in nursing homes), or tissue or blood infections are some of the most common medical errors that can result in a TBI.

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