Each year, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) sponsors Brain Injury Awareness Month. The organization is using this time to acknowledge and support brain injury victims. Their focus is to help the public understand that a brain injury is a chronic condition, with the goal of reducing stigmas surrounding these injuries. The BIAA also hopes to improve brain injury care support tools and resources while sharing knowledge.
What are Brain Injuries?
Acquired brain injuries (ABI) occur after birth, and they are not hereditary, degenerative, or congenital. There are two types of ABIs: traumatic (TBI) and non-traumatic. Traumatic brain injuries are caused by trauma or external forces and cause alterations in brain function. A TBI can be closed or open.
Non-traumatic brain injuries result from internal causes. They can be caused from pressure from a tumor, exposure to toxins, or the lack of oxygen. Whether the injury is caused from an internal or external force, a brain injury can alter a person’s life.
What Causes TBIs?
Motor vehicle accidents are one of the main causes of TBIs in the United States; it is estimated that traffic crashes account for 20 percent of all reported cases. Truck accidents can cause particularly serious TBIs.
Each year in the United States, 1.4 million people are affected by TBIs and head injuries. In some cases, the impact will cause a victim’s brain to move inside of the skull during a crash. This can result in bleeding and swelling, causing pressure to build up inside the skull. The brain can become compressed or move out of place, which is referred to as brain herniation. For some people, it leads to permanent brain damage, strokes, or death.
Skull fractures suffered in car accidents can also cause TBIs. The amount of damage will depend on where the skull was hit as well as the force of the impact. For example, simple or closed fractures are clean breaks in the bone, while linear fractures are straight cracks that do not distort the skull bone. Depressed fractures present with the skull being crushed inward, and compound or open fractures show splintered bone and breaks in the skin.
Common Types of TBIs
Sometimes, the brain moves slower than the skull during a traffic accident, and this causes the nerve tissues to tear. One type of diffuse axonal injury is whiplash, and many may not realize that this can cause permanent brain damage. Coup-contrecoup injuries are different in some ways. These injuries happen when one half of the brain hits the skull hard enough to bounce back and impact the opposite half of the skull.
Contusions or bruises will also occur when the head is hit hard enough. The discoloration is caused by bleeding beneath the tissue. If this happens in the brain, surgery may be needed. Concussions are usually less worrisome, but they are common during high-impact motor vehicle crashes. Sometimes, a concussion will cause a loss of consciousness and can even disrupt the flow of oxygen to the brain.
What are the Symptoms of TBIs?
TBI symptoms worsen with the severity of the accident. In milder cases, patients may experience a brief loss of consciousness, memory loss, headache, vomiting, dizziness, and lethargy. In moderate cases, there may be a loss of consciousness for up to 24 hours, bleeding, contusions, differences in behavior, and signs of the TBI on neuroimaging. Severe cases can cause slurred speech, profound confusion, and lapsing into a coma without signs of a sleep/wake cycle. Some brain injury victims may be sensitive to sound or light or have mood swings, problems with sleeping, anxiety, depression, and even seizures.
Children may show different TBI symptoms, such as a change in nursing habits or persistent crying. The Mayo Clinic advises anyone who has received a blow to the head to seek medical treatment.
Whether or not there is a loss of consciousness, patients will usually experience a post-traumatic amnesia. It is normal to feel disoriented and confused, and this will likely subside in time. However, brain neurons do not repair themselves like muscle tissue and bones. New nerves will not grow in to replace the damaged ones, and if the damage affects parts of the brain that control certain functions, the individual may not be able to function as they did before the accident.
How are Brain Injuries Treated?
TBIs are diagnosed through CT scans, MRIs, and intracranial pressure monitors that measure the pressure of swollen tissue. Emergency surgery may be needed to prevent further brain damage. Surgeons may perform procedures to repair skull fractures, reduce brain bleeding, remove clotted blood, or open up a window in the skull to drain fluid to relieve the pressure.
After surgery, a patient is moved into an intensive care unit. From there, they may go to specialty neurotrauma departments and rehabilitation facilities. Severe patients may end up in assisted living facilities, living support-program group homes, or nursing care facilities. The treatment could be needed permanently, temporarily, or intermittently.
Can I Receive Compensation for a Brain Injury?
TBIs often lead to long-term medical care and expenses. Facing many bills, not being able to work, and experiencing pain and suffering can be overwhelming. For these reasons, it is wise to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer if one was injured by a negligent trucker or company.
Some TBI claims can be built around negligence. For instance, if a truck was involved in the accident, the plaintiff might focus on the negligent actions of the trucking company, such as errors made while loading cargo. Since trucking companies normally have larger insurance policies than auto owners, the damages awarded could be more significant. It would still depend on the severity of the TBI, the amount of pain and suffering, and the plaintiff’s ability to function and work in the future.
How can I Advocate for Brain Injury Awareness Month?
TBI victims who are able and willing can share their stories through speaking engagements and social media to help spread awareness. Non-victims can show support through volunteering. There are many agencies and organizations that help the TBI community, and these groups can refer volunteers out to help families and individuals in need. Many of these agencies hold fundraisers and awareness events, and they would also welcome any monetary donations for the cause to further TBI services and research. It is important to learn about TBIs first in order to advocate for those affected by them.
If one is involved in a severe truck accident, they may have legal options available to them. When it is possible, a truck accident victim should retain a lawyer to learn about ways they might be able to receive compensation.
Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyers Protect Brain Injury Victims Against Negligent Truck Drivers
During Brain Injury Awareness Month, it is important to understand how brain injuries affect victims and ways to prevent them from happening. If you have a brain injury because of a negligent truck driver or company, contact a Virginia Beach truck accident lawyer today. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we fight for the rights of truck accident victims. For a free consultation, call us at 757-352-2237 or complete our online form. We are located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shore, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.