Here at the New York personal injury law firm of Banville Law, we like to be a resource. We created this page to help people dealing with the effects of a brain injury learn more about their legal rights. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 52,000 Americans die as a result of brain injuries each year and 275,000 people are hospitalized with debilitating brain injury symptoms. But these numbers do nothing to express the tremendous cognitive, emotional, and physical effects that brain injuries can have.
Common Types Of Brain Injury: Closed and Penetrating
In terms of physical trauma, there are two medically-recognized forms of brain injury: closed and penetrating.
In closed head injuries, the skull, brain, and membranes that protect the brain remain intact. In many cases, although the head itself is not punctured, the brain can be dislodged from its proper position, striking the skull’s interior and causing numerous debilitating effects.
Penetrating, or open, head injuries occur when the dura mater, or outer layer of the membrane that protects your brain, is pierced by a foreign object. For obvious reasons, penetrating head injuries are extremely serious in nature and almost always have devastating consequences.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
According to the CDC, a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is any “bump, blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain.” TBI can also be caused by penetrating head wounds. And while not every head injury results in TBI, many do. In 2012 alone, 2.5 million Americans were diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury after accidents involving head trauma.
All cases of Traumatic Brain Injury can be classified as either “mild,” “moderate,” or “severe.” Doctors diagnose the severity of a TBI based on:
- whether a patient was knocked unconscious
- how long unconsciousness lasted
- severity of lasting symptoms
These factors are used to estimate the extent of the damage done to brain tissue. In addition, a test called the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is often administered directly after a head injury to determine the extent of trauma. The GCS serves to measure the “depth” of a coma, by taking into account eye opening, movement, and verbal response. Sufferers are rated on a scale from 3, the deepest level of coma, to 15, full consciousness. Here’s how the GCS breaks down:
- Glasgow Coma Scale Ratings 12 to 14: “Mild” Traumatic Brain Injuries are roughly equivalent to what we commonly call “concussions.” Common among sports players, concussions are generally not life-threatening but may result in serious symptoms.
- Glasgow Coma Scale Ratings 9 to 12: “Moderate” TBI result in losses of consciousness from 20 minutes to 6 hours.
- Glasgow Coma Scale Ratings 3 to 8: Loss of consciousness from “severe” TBI lasts longer than 6 hours. Although all brain injuries can result in lifelong neurological damage, severe Traumatic Brain Injuries commonly cause difficulties with all cognitive skills, including speech and abstract conceptualization.
Even when treated properly, penetrating head injuries can result in numerous forms of infection. When infected, brain matter may swell, applying damaging pressure to areas of cognitive importance.
Types Of Brain Infection
- Cerebral cysticercosis – This condition is caused by the pork tapeworm, an intestinal parasite that can be transmitted in pork meat.
- Toxoplasmosis – Caused by a single-celled parasite transmitted in undercooked, infected meat, contaminated water, or cat feces.
- Trichinosis – A parasitic disease transmitted by raw or undercooked pork and wild game.
Empyema, a form of abscess, occurs when pus collects in a pre-existing cavity of the body, creating painful pressure and swelling that can damage organs and blood vessels surrounding the area. The subdural space lies between two layers of the meninges, the membranes that cover and protect your brain. Subdural empyema is most commonly caused by bacterial or fungal infection, which causes the subdural space to fill with pus, inflame, and can severely damage brain functioning.
Subdural empyema is common among those who have suffered a penetrating head injury and did not immediately receive proper medical treatment. The condition’s symptoms include:
- Severe headaches
- High fever
- Stiffened neck and head
- Eye pain
Subdural empyema requires costly surgical drainage if a full recovery is expected.
Anoxic Brain Injuries
Your brain needs oxygen all the time, not only for optimal functioning, but for any functioning at all. When your brain does not receive adequate oxygen for any longer than four minutes, brain cells begin to die. Longer than five minutes, and permanent, anoxic brain injury may occur. “Anoxic” brain injury refers to an inadequate supply of oxygen, while “hypoxic” refers to total lack of oxygen.
Anoxic brain injury can happen for a number of reasons, not least a traumatic head injury. In particular, trauma to the head can interrupt blood, which transmits oxygen throughout your body, from reaching the brain.
Diffuse Axonal Injury
Unlike brain injuries that result from blunt force trauma or penetration, diffuse axonal injuries are caused by the head’s rapid acceleration or deceleration. Essentially, the head is violently “thrown around.” This violent motion can stretch axons, the part of a neuron that allows information to be transmitted throughout the brain, beyond their limit.
Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is perhaps the most devastating form of Traumatic Brain Injury. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most common. 90% of patients with severe DAI never regain consciousness, remaining instead in a vegetative state until death.
- Falls are America’s leading cause of TBI, or Traumatic Brain Injury, accounting for 28% of all documented TBI cases. Most at risk are the elderly, who account for the majority of hospitalizations and fatalities resulting from brain injury.
- 20% of all TBI cases are the result of trauma suffered in car accidents.
- Being struck by an object results in 19% of all TBI cases
If you were involved in an accident, and your head suffered any trauma, watch out for the following symptoms, any and all of which may be caused by a potentially devastating brain injury:
- Unconsciousness directly after the accident
- Amnesia, forgetting the events that led up to your accident and its actual occurrence
- Mild to severe headaches
- Blurred or otherwise impaired vision
- Upset stomach, nausea, and/or actual vomiting
- Excessive fatigue
If you suspect that you are suffering from a brain injury, or have experienced any of the symptoms listed above, visit your preferred doctor immediately. There are several techniques that medical professionals employ to diagnose a brain injury, including:
What Should I Do If I Have Suffered A TBI?
Traumatic Brain Injuries can be devastating. The personal injury lawyers at Banville Law want only to see you recover with dignity. If another person’s negligence caused your brain injury, you deserve justice. You may also be entitled to compensation. Our attorneys will do everything in their power to seek out the guilty parties who caused your suffering. If you or a loved one suffered a serious head injury in the state of New York please contact us today to schedule a free consultation and speak with an experienced brain injury lawyer.