The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that each year nearly 1.5 million people in the United States suffers a brain injury. The CDC also found that currently more than 5 million Americans have required prolonged hospitalization or long-term medical care because of traumatic brain injuries. Frekhtman & Associates represents victims of traumatic brain injuries, head injuries, and other types of personal injuries within New York City, Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is often caused by a blunt force impact with some outside entity. A TBI can occur as a result of different types of accidents including: car accidents, construction accidents, trip and fall, ceiling collapse, and many others.
Mild traumatic brain injury, or MTBI, usually refers to those injuries where loss of consciousness lasts less than thirty minutes. Symptoms of mild brain injury include headaches, difficulty concentrating or thinking, short-term memory loss, attention problems, irritability, depression, frustration, and sudden variations in mood. MTBI is often overlooked or not properly diagnosed.
A serious or severe traumatic brain injury usually occurs when the individual has lost consciousness for a period greater than half an hour. This is often accompanied by memory loss for more than one day. The resultant symptoms range from decreased ability to think clearly and function, to a state of complete comatose. Survivors of a severe brain injury may have lost the ability to control body movement such as the use of their arms, legs, and the ability to speak clearly. Emotional distress, anger, and depression are additional symptoms.
One of the difficulties of prosecuting a “minor” closed head injury claim is the absence of traditional, objective, medical evidence. Frequently, in rear-end impacts or other types of deceleration trauma, there is a brief loss of consciousness, which may or may not be recalled by the claimant. It is not uncommon for the traditional diagnostic tests to be within normal limits.
In the absence of positive findings with the traditional diagnostic procedures, objective evidence of severe injury may be manifested in documentary evidence of life changes. The obvious examples are:
The Glasgow Coma Scale (“GCS”) is a common test used by physicians to diagnose whether a brain injury is mild, medium, or severe. This scale helps doctors care for the brain injury patient, formulate a medical treatment plan, and more accurately predict the future prognosis and quality of recovery.
Several weeks later, another scale called Rancho Los Amigos is used. This scale of eight levels of brain injury is based on objective observations of the brain injury survivor’s reactions.
After people have survived major accidents that may have damaged their brains, they must then undergo a highly-detailed set of tests and procedures so their condition can be properly diagnosed. During this process, patients may need to be evaluated by one or more of the following: physicians, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists and neurosurgeons.
What makes this type of diagnosis so difficult is that even when all the most sophisticated tests currently available indicate that you do not have a traumatic brain injury (TBI) – you may be suffering from one. Furthermore, you may not know the full extent of your losses until your condition greatly worsens.
When trying to evaluate a potential TBI patient, doctors often look for some common symptoms. These are listed below, followed by a description of many of the diagnostic tests or exams administered to help determine of a person currently suffers from an easily documented TBI or other closed hear injury.
As your various doctors and other healthcare providers will tell you, it’s crucial to your long-term health to report any of these problems as soon as you become aware of them. Hopefully, family and friends may point them out to you – or your doctors will discern them based on tests results and interacting with you.
Keep in mind that you must try to spend time around other people who care about you after enduring most significant head injuries because new complications can suddenly appear – often when you may just think you’re getting a bit sleepy or simply feeling odd. Should you be alone and no symptoms on the list above appear – or even others not noted there – you must contact your doctor or return to the nearest emergency room right away.
The most common tests you may be asked to undergo include: X-rays, EEGs, CTs or CAT Scans, and one or more MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) tests. These tests are further described below, following by a second list of additional tests or exams often used.
While these are the more common tests run after someone endures a suspected closed head or traumatic brain injury – they are often given in conjunction with other tests.
We see concussions happen in sports and other physical activities on a somewhat regular basis. Often a concussion is dismissed as a temporary and relatively mild injury with no permanent ramifications. In reality, a concussion can have a serious and lasting damages.
After a concussion, you may feel foggy and tired. You may experience vomiting, nausea, dizziness, headaches, and a general feeling of frustration. It is important to recuperate from your injuries by resting after getting a full medical check up. This will allow the head injury to enter the healing process. The brain injury lawyers at Frekhtman & Associates can handle all aspects of your traumatic brain injury “TBI” litigation while you recover.
The human brain contains billions of nerve cells. These cells communicate with each other via axons which are long fibers and comprise the white matter in the brain. Traumatic events that happen in an accident can damage these axons resulting in diffuse axonal injury to the brain. Diffuse Axonal Brain Injury (“DAI”) is also known as acquired brain injury, axonal shearing, or a head injury.
Examples of how DAI can occur include:
Often damage to the axons cannot be visualized on diagnostic imaging such as MRI or CT scans. However, a sheared axonal fiber can result in brain cell death.
The axon fiber can no longer serve as a pathway for communication between brain cells thereby cutting off flow to a brain cell which causes it to wither and die.
Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI) is one of the most common traumatic brain injuries. It occurs in about fifty percent of head trauma accidents. Car Accidents especially whiplash type sudden acceleration / deceleration injury are the most common causes of DAI. Other types of accidents that cause DAI include falls, assaults, and shaken baby syndrome.
A regular MRI may not show diffuse axonal injury due to the microscopic nature of the injury such as a tear in tiny axon fibers. However, newer technology including Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) can show damage to the white matter indicative of axonal injury.
DAI symptoms may not appear immediately after an accident. The injury to the axon fibers prevents brain cells from communicating with each other and over time the death of brain cells will manifest symptoms.
Common patient symptoms after a diffuse axonal injury include:
It is necessary to orient the lay jury into the gross and microscopic anatomy of the brain, the surrounding structures, and the brain itself. This gives the lay jury an understanding of how the trauma involved in a closed head injury case has resulted in the psychological behavior changes manifested by the plaintiff. The use of medical illustrations depicts both the anatomy of the skull, brain, and the mechanism of closed head injury.
The New York City brain injury lawyers at Frekhtman & Associates develop each client matter as a medical legal team that includes attorneys, neuropsychologists, neurologists, neuro-radiologists, and other top brain injury specialists. Speak with us today (866) ATTY-LAW.