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HOW TO DETERMINE IF YOU SUFFERED A TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

traumatic brain injuryTraumatic brain injuries are classified as mild, moderate, and severe depending on the level of severity of the injury.  There are different ways to determine if you have suffered a traumatic brain injury based on a medical evaluation of your symptoms or subjective complains, and signs or objective findings.  Symptoms are what the patient complains about (e.g. headaches, dizziness, etc), while signs are something that anyone, other than the patient, can see (e.g. Imaging, MRI, blood tests, etc).

The symptoms of a traumatic brain injury may not appear right away.  It may take days, weeks, or even months following the injury for symptoms to manifest.  It can be difficult to determine if a person has in fact suffered a traumatic brain injury.  However, the following are most common symptoms[1]:

  • Headaches
  • Fuzzy or blurry vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to noise or light
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Balance problems
  • Feeling tired, having no energy
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering new information
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • More emotional
  • Mood changes
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Sleep less than usual
  • Trouble falling Sleep

 

It is highly recommended for the ER personnel or the treating physician to conduct a thorough medical evaluation to determine if the patient has a traumatic brain injury based on his/her signs and/or objective findings.  The signs vary depending on the severity of the traumatic brain injury.

For mild traumatic brain injury, the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine has defined this condition as a “traumatically-induced physiological disruption of the brain function” which is manifested by any period of loss of consciousness, any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the accident, or any alteration in mental state at the time of the accident (e.g. feeling dazed, disoriented or confused), but where the severity of the injury does not exceed the following:

  • Loss of consciousness of approximately 30 minutes or less,
  • After 30 minutes an initial Glasgow Coma Scale Score of 13-15,[2]
  • Post-traumatic amnesia no greater than 24 hours.

A moderate traumatic brain injury occurs when the loss of consciousness is for 30 minutes or longer, an initial Glasgow Coma Scale of 9-12, and post-traumatic amnesia of 24 hours to 7 days.  A person with a moderate traumatic brain injury can have any of the typical symptoms but such symptoms do not go away and may even get worse.  In some cases, there could be abnormal CT or MRI findings as well as physical, cognitive and/or behavioral impairments that could last for months or be permanent.

A severe traumatic brain injury takes place when the injury results in loss of consciousness of more than 24 hours, an initial Glasgow Coma Scale of 3-8, and post-traumatic amnesia period of more than 7 days.  In addition, the impact of a severe brain injury can include cognitive, language, sensory, perceptual, physical and social-emotional deficits, such as:

  • Cognitive:  attention, concentration, distractibility, memory, speed of processing, confusion, impulsiveness, language processing and executive functions, among others.
  • Speech and Language:  Difficulty understanding spoken words; difficulty speaking and being understood; slurred speech; speaking very fast or very slow; problems reading and writing.
  • Sensory:  Difficulties with interpretation of touch, temperature, movement, limb position, etc.
  • Perceptual:  Difficulty integrating or patterning sensory impressions into psychological meaningful data.
  • Vision:  Partial or total loss of vison, weakness of eye muscles, double vision, blurred vision, problems judging distance, involuntary eye movements, intolerance to light, etc.
  • Hearing:  Decrease or loss of hearing, ringing in the ears, increased sensitivity to sounds, etc.
  • Smell:  Loss or diminished sense of smell.
  • Taste:  Loss or diminished sense of taste.
  • Seizures:  Convulsions associated with epilepsy, which can involve disruption in consciousness, sensory perception or motor movements.
  • Physical Changes:  Physical paralysis/spasticity, chronic pain, control of bowel and bladder, sleep disorders, loss of stamina, appetite changes, regulation of body temperature, menstrual difficulties.
  • Social–Emotional:  Dependent behaviors, emotional ability, lack of motivation, irritability, aggression, depression, disinhibition, denial/lack of awareness.

If you have been injured by another person’s negligence and you feel you may have a traumatic brain injury, we recommend you to contact us immediately.  Our experienced attorneys are ready to help you get the compensation you are entitled to, and will definitely help you navigate through the complexities of this type of injury cases.

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/symptoms.html

[2] For information about the Glasgow Coma Scale, please visit https://www.brainline.org/content/2010/10/what-is-the-glasgow-coma-scale.html