At Banville Law, our experienced brain injury lawyers 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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
Subdural empyema requires costly surgical drainage if a full recovery is expected.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
Keep reading: Treating TBI: What Recovery Options Are Available?