What Are Traumatic Brain Injury Examples?
An Overview of a Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of injuries, from mild concussions to irreversible brain damage. Simply put, a traumatic brain injury is an injury to the brain caused by a blow (or trauma) to the head.
Although the human brain only weighs about three pounds, it is involved in virtually every aspect of daily life. In addition to regulating vital organs, processing input from the five senses, controlling voluntary and involuntary movements, storing memories, and governing behavior, the brain is also the body’s central processing unit, providing intelligence and higher reasoning. Consequently, when someone suffers an injury to the brain, there are many ways they can be affected.
Whatever their cause, car accidents in California frequently result in traumatic brain injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident that someone else caused, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries.
In this article, we’ll cover the basics of traumatic brain injuries: how they’re classified, common causes, and some examples of TBIs.
Classifying Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries can be classified in several different ways.
- Doctors make a distinction between closed-brain TBIs, in which something impacts the head and injures the brain but does not break through the skull, and penetrating TBIs, in which something pierces through the skull and injures the brain. The most common penetrating TBI is a gunshot wound.
- A second distinction is between primary and secondary brain injuries. A primary TBI is a brain injury that occurs when there’s a traumatic blow to the head or the head is shaken violently (for example, in a car accident). Secondary TBIs are injuries that develop in the hours, days, or weeks following a primary TBI.
- Brain injuries can be either focal or diffuse. Focal TBIs are concentrated in one area of the brain; diffuse TBIs affect multiple areas.
What’s the Difference Between Mild, Moderate, and Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries?
Traumatic brain injuries are usually classified as mild, moderate, or severe based on several criteria, including:
- Loss of consciousness: Did the patient lose consciousness? For how long? Someone with a mild TBI may not lose consciousness at all; someone with a severe TBI may be in a coma for days.
- Imaging: Although some brain injuries are microscopic and don’t show up on tests like CT or MRI scans, moderate and severe TBIs may involve changes to the brain that are evident in imaging results.
- Other symptoms: Mild TBI is often accompanied by dizziness, vomiting, fatigue, and temporary memory loss. Moderate and severe TBIs sometimes involve bleeding (or hematoma) in or around the brain.
Most people fully recover from mild traumatic brain injuries within a few weeks, but moderate and severe TBIs can have life-changing, long-lasting effects or lead to premature death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there were 64,000 deaths from traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. in 2020. A substantial portion of these deaths were from gunshot wounds, self-inflicted or otherwise. The CDC reports, “From 2015 to 2017, 44% of TBI-related deaths were categorized as intentional injuries (i.e., homicides or suicides).”
People living with moderate or severe closed-brain TBIs may need extensive rehab to restore their ability to carry out affected activities or daily support from family or professional caregivers. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, about 30% of those with moderate TBIs have some degree of permanent disability, and about 10% die or are left in a “persistent vegetative state” as a result of their injuries.
Those with severe TBIs fare worse: about 15%–20% are disabled, a small portion are in a vegetative state, and approximately one in three die as a result of their injuries.
What’s the Difference Between a Head Injury and a Concussion?
Head injury versus concussion: the terminology can be confusing. Some people use the terms head injury and concussion more or less interchangeably. Other people make a clear distinction between the two terms: A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that causes temporary changes in brain function, whereas a head injury is an external injury to the head, like a cut or bruise.
In this latter case, a mild head injury and a mild concussion are two very different things. The effects of a head injury are usually visible, but the symptoms of a concussion can be much more subtle. For instance, a person with a concussion may have trouble thinking clearly or remembering things, and their emotions and behavior may be affected as well.
Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries most commonly result from falls, car accidents, and gunshot wounds. These are also the most common causes of death from traumatic brain injuries. In addition, each year thousands of participants in contact sports like football, wrestling, and boxing suffer concussions while competing.
Examples of Traumatic Brain Injuries
It’s no secret that car accidents often result in injuries, including traumatic brain injuries. Even a seemingly innocuous rear-end accident can cause a TBI by rapidly whipping the head backward and forward.
Examples of traumatic brain injuries include:
- Concussions: A concussion is an injury to the brain caused by a blow to the head or by violent shaking. Symptoms include nausea, dizziness, fatigue, brain fog, and temporary memory loss. A concussion is usually a mild TBI but should still be taken seriously.
- Contusions: A cerebral (brain) contusion refers to a bruise on the brain. Contusions can occur with concussions but may also be a sign of more serious TBI. They’re sometimes referred to as coup lesions (at the point of impact on the head) and contrecoup lesions (from the brain striking the skull opposite the point of impact on the head).
- Edema: Head trauma can cause edema, or swelling, in the brain. The swelling, in turn, can cause more serious issues by putting pressure on the brain.
- Hemorrhages: A hemorrhage is bleeding in (intracerebral) or around (subarachnoid) the brain. Hemorrhages require prompt treatment to prevent further injury or permanent damage.
- Hematomas: A hematoma is a pool of blood that collects in or around the brain. Hematomas can occur immediately after a head trauma or may develop in the days following. They may require surgical removal to prevent secondary injury or death.
- Diffuse axonal injury (DAI): DAI is a serious type of brain injury that occurs when axons—which connect neurons (brain cells) to one another and allow them to communicate—are torn apart. The effects and severity of DAI depend on where the torn axons are located within the brain and on how much tearing occurs.
- Secondary injuries: This type of brain injury develops in the hours, days, and weeks following a TBI. For example, untreated edema may lead to further injuries. Or, suppose a patient sustains a TBI in a car accident. Due to other circumstances of their injuries, their blood pressure is abnormally low. The combination of TBI and low blood pressure puts them at risk for secondary brain injury because of a lower supply of oxygen to the brain. Much of the focus of post-TBI medical treatment is geared toward stabilizing the injured person to prevent secondary brain injury.
Recovering From a Traumatic Brain Injury
How long a brain injury takes to heal depends on the injury’s severity and the type of brain damage sustained. For someone with a mild concussion, recovery may involve a few days or weeks of rest; for someone with a moderate or severe TBI, recovery may involve months or years of rehabilitation.
The focus of rehab depends on the area of the brain affected by a patient’s brain injury. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “Most studies suggest that once brain cells are destroyed or damaged, for the most part, they do not regenerate.”
In other words, damaged areas of the brain tend to stay damaged. Although this sounds discouraging, the good news is that the brain is neuroplastic—that is, it can develop new pathways to compensate for areas that have been injured. For example, through speech therapy, a person who lost the ability to speak because of a TBI may be able to relearn how to speak.
What Is the Average Settlement Amount for Traumatic Brain Injury?
If you incurred a traumatic brain injury in a car accident, you may be wondering about the average dollar amount of a settlement in a traumatic brain injury lawsuit. Actually, any “average” settlement figure for a TBI lawsuit would be misleading, because settlement amounts are as varied as the severity and types of traumatic brain injuries.
If you sustained a mild concussion, your settlement will be far less than if you were left permanently disabled by your injuries. The best course of action if you have a car-accident-related TBI is to consult an experienced car accident lawyer.
Experienced California Car Accident Attorneys
Recovering from any type of brain injury is a daunting process. If you or a family member suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, the Bakersfield car accident lawyers of Chain | Cohn | Clark are ready to help you seek the compensation you deserve to relieve you of financial pressure as you recuperate.
Contact us today for a free consultation.