Brain Injury: A Misunderstood, Misdiagnosed, Underfunded Disease And How It Affects People
It’s a misunderstood, misdiagnosed, underfunded neurological disease, and everyone’s experience is different. We’re talking about brain injuries, and each March, Brain Injury Awareness Month aims to highlight the issues that people suffering from brain injuries face.
We see these issues all too often at Chain | Cohn | Clark. In fact, about 2.8 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury each year — 48% from falls, 17% are struck by something, and another 13% from motor vehicle accidents. Our law firm battles through the civil justice system to help victims move forward after these incidents, and to make sure they get the care and support they deserve. Please join us in advocating and bringing awareness by learning more about brain injuries below, including how to identify different brain injuries, and how to prevent them.
WHAT ARE BRAIN INJURIES
There are more than 5.3 million individuals in the United States who are living with a permanent brain injury-related disability. That’s one in every 60 people.
There are two types of acquired brain injury: traumatic and non-traumatic.
- A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force. Traumatic impact injuries can be defined as closed (or non-penetrating) or open (penetrating). Examples include falls, assaults, motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, workplace injuries, child abuse, domestic violence, and military actions.
- A non-traumatic brain injury is an alteration in brain function or pathology caused by an internal force. Examples of this include a stroke, infectious disease, seizure, shock, tumors, toxic exposure, lack of oxygen, poisoning, and drug overdose.
Symptoms of traumatic brain injuries can have wide-ranging physical and psychological effects. Some signs or symptoms may appear immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear days or weeks later. They include:
- Physical symptoms: Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes, a state of being dazed, confused or disoriented, headaches, nausea or vomiting, fatigue or drowsiness, problems with speech, difficulty sleeping, sleeping more than usual, dizziness or loss of balance. In severe cases, loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours, persistent headache or headache that worsens, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes, clear fluids draining from the nose or ears, inability to awaken from sleep, weakness or numbness in fingers and toes, loss of coordination.
- Sensory symptoms: Blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth or changes in the ability to smell, sensitivity to light or sound.
- Cognitive or mental symptoms: Memory or concentration problems, mood changes or mood swings, feeling depressed or anxious. In severe cases, profound confusion, agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior, slurred speech, coma and other disorders of consciousness.
The #MoreThanMyBrainInjury campaign aims to increase understanding of brain injury as a chronic condition, reduce the stigma associated with having a brain injury, showcase the diversity of injury and the demographics of the community, and improve care and support for individuals with brain injury and their families.
BRAIN INJURY PREVENTION
Some professions carry the risk of greater brain injury than others. However, this is an issue that could affect any of us in the wrong circumstance. We need to be equipped to protect our heads, prevent injury, and also be able to locate the right resources in case we need to in the event of an injury.
Among traumatic brain Injuries, concussions are the most common. They are caused when the brain is impacted by blows or wounds, and the person typically feels dazed if they retain consciousness. It may go undiagnosed if proper care is not taken. A recent study found that 73 out of 100,000 men had fall-related deaths as opposed to 54 for women, perhaps owing to differing occupational or domestic chores.
To reduce the risks of brain injury, here’s what you and your loved ones can do:
- Use seat belts
- Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications that impair the ability to drive.
- Wear helmets or appropriate head protection when enjoying sports or outside recreation.
- Pay attention to your surroundings
- Don’t drive, walk or cross the street while using any smart device.
- Prevent falls around the house by using handrails, removing area rugs, improving lighting, clearing clutter, and getting regular vision checkups and exercise.
LANCE AND TAMMY’S STORY
Lance S. was driving his 2001 Ford Escape on a foggy January morning in 2018 on northbound Highway 43, just south of Panama Lane, to his work in Bakersfield. As the driver of a big rig was backing his flatbed trailer from Highway 43 onto Panama Lane after making a wrong turn, Lance collided with the semi-truck and suffered catastrophic injuries, including a traumatic brain injury and multiple fractures.
As a result of the big rig accident, Lance’s life was turned upside down, and the person he was before the incident is not the person that he is today. He was gainfully employed and had a promising future but will never be gainfully employed again. He was a doting father of four children, and participated in their extra-curricular activities, took care of their needs, and helped them with their homework. Now, he cannot be left alone to care for his children. Every physical part of his body has been greatly affected due to physical, cognitive, and emotional deficits. Lance was a very independent person prior to the incident. Now he is totally dependent on others for his instrumental activities of daily living and transportation. He needs total assistance for meal preparation. Lance was an intelligent, articulate man prior to the incident. Now, he has an IQ of 89, and has speech and memory deficits. Lance was physically fit prior to the incident. Now he walks with a gait, has a high fall risk secondary to impaired balance, and impulsivity with difficulty responding efficiently and quickly.
Lance had his quality of life has been taken away from him. Chain | Cohn | Clark was able to settle his case for a confidential amount. This testimonial from his wife Tammy shows the service and compassion provided by our office to victims of traumatic brain injuries:
“Matt (Clark) was willing to go to trial for the case. And if I needed something, the law firm would help. I remember I had a flat tire one day, and I needed a new tire but didn’t have any money, so I called Matt and they brought a check to the tire shop where I was at, which I thought was really cool, because they didn’t have to do that … I’d tell anyone to hire Matt for sure. Matt is a great guy, and he really cares. Honestly, he’s more like a friend now.”
If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.