Brain injuries are one of the most debilitating injuries someone can endure and are more common than you may think. According to the Brain Injury Association of America (BIA), more than 6.4 million people sustain brain injuries in the United States a year – that’s one person every 9 seconds.
During Brain Injury Awareness Month, the Brain Injury Association of America brings this health crisis to the forefront through a public awareness campaign. This year’s campaign theme – More Than My Brain Injury – gives individuals who suffer from a brain injury disability the opportunity to change the narrative and share their stories.
In our decades of work representing victims who have suffered a brain injury on the job or due to the neglect of someone else, we know how traumatic the experience can be, not only for the injured, but also for their families. Oftentimes victims will have to make major adjustments to their lives and the financial cost can be overwhelming.
During Brain Injury Awareness Month, let’s take a look at the different types and causes of brain injuries and what you should do to protect your rights if you or a loved one suffers a brain injury.
Types of Brain Injuries
Brain injuries that are not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or caused during birth are classified as acquired brain injuries, or ABIs. In other words, ABIs are injuries that could have been prevented in some way. ABIs are classified in two categories – traumatic brain injury (TBI) and non-traumatic brain injury (nTBI).
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
A TBI is an alteration in brain function caused by an external force. A person who sustains a TBI may experience a loss of consciousness, persistent headaches, vomiting or nausea, seizures, pupil dilation, and an inability to awaken from sleep. TBIs are often caused by an abrupt blow to the head.
TBIs fall into three categories:
- Mild TBI or Concussion: These are caused by a bump or mild blow to the head. Even mild TBIs can affect how a person thinks, feels, acts, and sleeps.
- Moderate: Victims of moderate TBIs can experience more severe symptoms including nausea, vomiting, difficulty speaking, loss of coordination and even seizures.
- Severe: Severe TBIs lead to thousands of deaths each year and survivors often face long-term or life-long health problems.
Non-Traumatic Brain Injury (nTBI)
An nTBI, unlike a TBI, happens when damage to the brain is caused by an internal force, rather than external. For example, a stroke, lack of oxygen, shock, lead exposure, or chemotherapy treatment can alter the brain function and cause an nTBI.
Both TBIs and nTBIs can cause serious consequences for the victim and lead to months and years of medical treatments. If you’ve suffered a TBI or nTBI at work, or due to the negligence of someone else, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. Brain injury cases can be exhausting for a victim, so before talking to the insurance company about your claim, consult with a personal injury attorney to discuss your rights.
Causes of Brain Injuries
Brain injuries are caused when the brain experiences some kind of trauma – either an external force like being hit in the head, or an internal force such as a lack of oxygen to the brain. Although TBIs and nTBIs have similar symptoms and outcomes, they result from different causes.
Leading causes of TBI include:
- Falls Falls are the leading cause of TBIs. Head injuries after a fall can range from a mild traumatic brain injury to a severe one, depending on the height of the fall and the impact to the head.
- Car accidents Even with airbags, car accidents can cause a brain or head injury. During impact, the victim’s brain is jolted and can rebound and hit the skull causing tissues and blood vessels to tear.
- Workplace accidents Some industries such as construction, manufacturing, and agriculture carry a risk of head injuries for workers. Workers in these industries often work on ladders, on noisy manufacturing floors, or are operating heavy machinery that can lead to a workplace accident.
- Sports/Recreation Athletes – both professional and recreational – can experience a head injury during practice or a game. Football players especially are at risk.
Leading causes of nTBI include:
- Electric Shock An electric shock to the brain can cause neurological consequences such as memory loss, depression, and long-term damage to the nerves in the brain. Employees who work with machinery can be at risk for electric shock at work.
- Infectious Disease Some infectious diseases can cause an nTBI in hours. Diseases such as septicemia, a blood infection, can lead to septic shock. This results in a drop in blood pressure and can affect the blood supply to the brain.
- Toxic Exposure Exposure to toxic chemicals is one of the most common causes of ABIs. Chemicals such as lead, pesticides, herbicides, can cause an ABI, and repeated exposure can even lead to death.
- Stroke When someone experiences a stroke, the oxygen supply to the brain is compromised. This can lead to an ABI which can either be short-term if the stroke was mild or can result in a life-long injury.
What to Do If You Suffer a Brain Injury
Head trauma and brain injuries can be catastrophic for victims. They often cause immense physical, psychological, and financial tolls not only for the victim, but also for their family members. Brain injury victims can face long-term medical treatments and the need for costly continuing care. You may be out of work for weeks or months or may not even return to work at all.
If you’ve suffered a brain injury, it’s important to put your health and livelihood first, and follow these key steps:
- Seek Medical Treatment With any head injury, it’s critical to seek medical attention as soon as possible. When the brain is injured, it can lead to headaches, confusion, memory problems, and other health conditions. Having your injury diagnosed by a professional is the first step in recovery.
- If Injured at Work, Inform Your Employer TBIs are one of the most common – and costly – occupational injuries. If you are the victim of a head or brain injury at work, inform your employer immediately to start the workers’ compensation process.
- Keep Detailed Notes In workers’ compensation and personal injury cases, it’s important to have detailed notes to help build your case for maximum compensation. Because brain injuries can cause issues with memory and cognition, have a friend or family member attend doctor’s appointments with you and help you document your treatment and recovery.
- Consult with an Attorney If you or someone you love suffers a brain injury due to negligence or on the job, you may need the help of a personal injury or workers’ compensation attorney to get you the compensation you deserve.
Remember – if you are injured because of the negligence of someone else, the insurance company will want to settle your case as quickly as possible. Do not accept a lowball offer from the insurance company before talking to an attorney. Medical bills, lost wages, and loss of future employment can add up quickly and you deserve compensation to help you adjust after your brain injury.
Your Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Law Firm
At Dale E. Anstine Personal Injury Law Firm, we have been fighting for the rights of the injured in York, Pa., Hanover, Pa. and Central Pennsylvania for decades. We know how to navigate the legal system for a brain injury victim and will be your advocate while you are focused on recovery!
We’ve seen how traumatic and life-altering a brain injury can be for the victim and their family. Our team of experienced and compassionate lawyers is ready to help you fight for your rights. We always offer no-obligation free consultations and never charge a fee unless we win your case. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free evaluation of your brain injury case.