Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a major cause of death and disability in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that approximately 2.5 million TBIs occur every year in the United States and over 50,000 people die from the injury. Those who survive a TBI can suffer symptoms that last a few days to disabilities that last a lifetime.
The leading cause of TBIs? Falls, unintentional blunt trauma, motor vehicle crashes and assaults. And sometimes, determining whether a person has suffered a TBI as a result of head trauma can be difficult.
TBIs can have a wide-range of physical and psychological effects on a victim. While some symptoms of a TBI can appear immediately after the traumatic event, others may not appear until days or weeks later. There are also different levels of TBIs, each with their own symptoms.
A TBI may be classified as mild when the initial symptoms last less than 30 minutes. Unfortunately, these symptoms are often overlooked and the injury goes undiagnosed.
- Physical symptoms - loss of consciousness for several seconds or minutes; no loss of consciousness, but a period of feeling disoriented, dazed or confused; headaches; vomiting and nausea; fatigue; sleep disturbances; dizziness and loss of balance
- Sensory symptoms - blurred vision; ringing in the ears; sensitivity to light or sounds
- Cognitive symptoms - memory loss; problems concentrating; slowness in thinking; mood changes; feelings of depression or anxiety; getting lost or confused
Moderate to severe TBIs
The following additional symptoms may appear within the first hours or days after a moderate or severe TBI:
- Physical symptoms - loss of consciousness from 20 minutes up to 6 hours; persistent headaches that worsen over time; repeated vomiting and nausea; seizures and convulsions; inability to awaken from sleep; loss of coordination; dilation of one or both pupils; physical paralysis
- Sensory symptoms - difficulties interpreting touch, temperature and movement; partial or total loss of vision; intolerance to light; problems judging distance; involuntary eye movements
- Cognitive symptoms - deep confusion; agitation and combativeness; slurred speech; inability to understand speech; problems reading or writing; lack of awareness; coma
Severe TBIs can result in permanent neurological damage. And even the effects of a mild TBI can have devastating effects on the injured person and their family.
If you or a loved one has suffered a head injury and exhibits any of the symptoms listed above, you should see a doctor or seek emergency care immediately. You should also contact a qualified personal injury attorney who understands how to litigate brain injury and TBI cases.