Common questions about brain injury

Brain injuries can be complex and it is important for people to gain a better understanding of what they are and how they can affect them.

The human brain is the operation center for the rest of the body and when it suffers injury, it can affect people for the rest of their life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that it is a leading cause of death, contributing to the fatality rate of 138 people every day in the United States. The most recent statistics show that 2.2 million people were treated for traumatic brain injury in emergency departments during 2010.

Are there different types?

There are two types of brain injury - open and closed. According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, an open injury occurs when the brain is penetrated by another object such as an arrow, a piece of wood or a bullet. A closed head injury is usually more common and happens in car accidents, when the head hits the ground after a fall or when something falls on the head.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms that people experience will differ, depending on where the injury occurred, the amount of force behind the blow, their age, their overall health and other factors. Symptoms can include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Loss of vision
  • Uneven balance
  • Paralysis
  • Confusion

Additionally, people can also experience complete personality changes, lose the ability perceive depth and distance, and suffer memory loss. These symptoms can appear immediately or they can surface over time.

Is there any treatment?

The answer to this question is mixed. Technically, there is no known or approved treatment that can reverse the damage caused by a blow to the head. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke states that the only option for medical professionals is to take preventative measures to stop further brain cells from dying. This includes monitoring the victim's blood and oxygen flow, blood pressure and taking computed tomography scans to determine where the injury has occurred.

What are the long-term effects?

The Brian Injury Association of America points out that no two brain injuries are ever alike. This contributes to the challenges doctors face as it can be almost impossible to predict long term outcomes. Some symptoms may disappear with rest and proper care while others can take years to recover from or they may never fully go away. For example, people may struggle with headaches, cognitive problems or feel a little 'off' every now and then.

Brain injuries can also affect people in other ways. Science has shown that they increase people's risk of suffering a stroke later on in life, and they have been linked to Parkinson's and forms of dementia. People who have been injured through negligence face many challenges. Therefore, it may be of use for them to meet with an attorney.