Traumatic brain injury takes a toll

It can happen in a matter of moments, and it affects millions of Americans. A head injury resulting in traumatic brain injury, or TBI, can change a person's life forever. According to the Brain Injury Association of American, 1.7 million people suffer a TBI in the U.S. every year, and over 50,000 of those who are injured die as a result.

Causes

A TBI can occur whenever a person receives a blow or piercing injury to the head. The most frequent cause of TBI, as reported by the BIAA, is falling, which leads to 35 percent of these injuries. The second and third most common causes of TBI are motor vehicle accidents and workplace injuries, resulting in 17 and 16 percent of TBIs, respectively.

In TBI, the brain is disrupted and a variety of symptoms may be present, according to the Mayo Clinic. TBI can range from mild to severe in intensity, and it is important to watch carefully for signs of injury. Some symptoms may appear immediately, while some do not show up for days or even weeks after the accident. Immediate treatment after an injury could make a difference, so it is especially important to be alert to TBI symptoms and work promptly to avoid additional damage to the brain.

Symptoms

About 75 percent of TBI cases are mild, usually diagnosed as concussions. In a mild TBI, the injured person may lose consciousness briefly or may just feel dazed. Physical signs can include nausea, sensitivity to sounds or lights, headache or dizziness. Cognitive signs such as feelings of anxiety, depression or moodiness may be present. A person with a mild TBI could have altered sleep patterns, with either difficulty getting to sleep or a tendency to sleep more than usual.

As the severity of TBI increases, symptoms like those for mild TBI could be present, but intensified. Loss of consciousness could be prolonged, even to the point of coma. Headaches could be severe and persistent, and the afflicted person could experience seizures, repeated vomiting, slurred speech and extreme confusion. There could be weakness in the extremities and very poor bodily coordination. Observers may see that the injured person's pupils are dilated and fluid could leak from the ears or nose. Altered behavior could become extreme, with the person even becoming combative.

Results

More than three million people in the United States now continue to live with the aftereffects of TBI, and some will never fully recover. A variety of professionals may be required to provide treatment and rehabilitation.

The expense of treating severe TBI is considerable. The BIAA estimates that rehabilitation in a hospital can cost $8,000 a day, with subsequent care in a residential treatment center amounting to $800 to $2,500 a day and outpatient treatment costs coming to $600 to $1,000 for four hours. On the whole, the annual costs of TBI nationwide come to about $76.3 billion, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These costs include medical treatment along with the loss of production from those who cannot work due to TBI.

Anyone who has sustained a TBI due to someone else's negligence could be entitled to compensation to cover the resulting expenses. Consulting a personal injury attorney will be very helpful, as the attorney can determine whether it is worthwhile to pursue a personal injury claim to seek recovery of medical costs and lost wages. Depending on circumstances, a personal injury claim could also include compensation for pain and suffering caused by negligence.