Traumatic Brain Injury
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Traumatic brain injury is a complex injury encompassing a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities. The effects of a brain injury may be severe and apparent immediately. Examples include slurred speech, difficulty walking and seizures.
Brain Injuries Can Go Undetected
In many cases, however, the effects of a brain injury are subtle at first. But, over time, symptoms such as short-term memory loss, vision impairment or behavioral changes appear. Often the family of the brain injury patient are the first to notice symptoms.
Brain injuries are one of the most common causes of disability and death in adults.
He’s a good honest guy, very patient. He always called me back, his communication skills are great.
Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury
Common causes of traumatic brain injury include:
- auto accidents
- bicycle accidents
- pedestrian accidents
- assaults, gunshot wounds, and other violence
- sports accidents
- playground injuries
- construction and other workplace injuries
- child abuse, including shaken baby syndrome
Traumatic brain injury symptoms can be divided into several broad categories: physical, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional.
Physical symptoms of traumatic brain injury include loss of consciousness, vomiting, severe headache, changes in sleep patterns, sensitivity to light, blurred vision and dizziness. You can also experience difficulty walking, loss of coordination, weakness in one side or area of your body and slurred speech.
Cognitive symptoms of traumatic brain injury include memory loss, confusion, and trouble with concentration, attention or thinking. Reduction in rate of information processing (processing speed) and difficulty organizing, prioritizing and executing plans (executive functioning) can also occur.
Behavioral and emotional symptoms of traumatic brain injury include irritability, depression, social withdrawal, personality changes, decreased attention to hygiene, changes in appropriate social behavior, and difficulty identifying, understanding, processing or describing emotions.
Brain Injury Claims
Brain injury claims present special considerations. As an initial matter, the victim may have suffered memory loss and, therefore, cannot remember the trauma-inducing event. If there is a dispute over who is at fault, the victim can be at a disadvantage.
Equally important, diagnostic studies, such as MRI, CT or EEG may not detect traumatic brain injuries, particularly those classified as mild. Diffuse axonal injuries frequently escape detection. Indeed, a diffuse axonal injury can be severe enough to result in death, yet an MRI may be interpreted as within normal limits.
People suffering from mild TBI tend to look normal on the outside to the casual observer. It can be a challenge to convince a jury that a person is seriously injured when there is no visible injury and no objective test data to support the diagnosis.
Defendants frequently claim that the plaintiff does not have a brain injury at all and, instead, is suffering from a psychological or emotional condition. The plaintiff also may be accused of exaggerating their symptoms or outright lying for financial gain.
Testimony from an experienced neuropsychologist is essential when a traumatic brain injury cannot be detected by diagnostic studies like MRI. The neuropsychologist can explain the injury based on the results from a battery of tests that assess perceptual, motor, verbal, memory and cognitive functioning.
Defendants usually employ their own neuropsychologist to discredit the one that testifies for the plaintiff. A typical defense is that there is no pre-injury, baseline testing of the plaintiff. Therefore, the argument goes, it cannot be said whether any deficit identified by neuropsychological testing was caused by trauma or, instead, relates to a pre-existing condition. Defendants also may claim that the plaintiff manipulated test results, or that deficits reflect unrelated medical conditions or the effects of medication.
To combat these defenses, it is essential for the plaintiff’s neuropsychologist to be well prepared for a vigorous cross examination by the defendant’s lawyer. Among other things, the neuropsychologist must be able to confirm plaintiff’s baseline function by reviewing pre-injury medical, psychological, vocational and academic records. The neuropsychologist also must account for all non-brain injury factors that may negatively affect the plaintiff’s test performance.
Finally, to prevent the trial from becoming a battle solely between medical experts, it is critical for the plaintiff to present testimony from family members, friends, employers and others in the community that can substantiate the effects of the plaintiff’s brain injury.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Types of brain injuries include:
- post-concussion syndrome
- skull fracture
- intracranial hematoma or ICH
- closed head injury
- coup-contrecoup Injury
- diffuse axonal Injury
- secondary brain injury
Classification of Brain Injuries
The Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) classifies brain injuries as mild, moderate or severe based on how well an injured person can respond to verbal, motor and eye-opening stimuli. Other organizations use different classification systems.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Brain Injuries
Diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury involves a physical examination and diagnostic testing. This may include a neuropsychological assessment, CT or CAT scan, MRI or other tests. The physician will also obtain a detailed medical history and information about how the injury occurred.
Rob Kline Can Help with Your Brain Injury Claim
Brain injury claims are complex from both a legal and medical standpoint. The challenges associated with successfully pursuing such claims certainly do not preclude recovery. However, it is essential to retain the services of an experienced brain injury lawyer to maximize your chances of success.
If you have been injured, it is important to consult with a skilled Portland personal injury attorney to discuss your injuries and legal rights. Call today for a free, confidential evaluation.