How Brain Injuries Can Affect Adults & Children
Although medical definitions can vary slightly, most sources agree that acquired brain injuries are unrelated to birth trauma and congenital, hereditary, or degenerative causes. And these types of injuries occurring after birth affect how the brain’s neurons (nerve cells) perform their work as the “fundamental units” of the brain and central nervous system.
- 1. Exactly what constitutes a brain injury â and how can brain nerve cells be affected?
- 2. Neuroplasticity often proves crucial to each patientâs recovery
- 3. New Yorkers & others sustain staggering numbers of daily and annual brain injuries
- 4. Broad categories and symptoms for traumatic brain injuries
- 5. Types of brain injuries that are often delayed after falls, car accidents & assaults
- 6. Rehabilitation for adult brain injuries in New York
- 7. Traumatic brain injury treatment programs for children are finally improving
- 8. Finding traumatic brain injury support groups near you
Exactly what constitutes a brain injury – and how can brain nerve cells be affected?
According to one medical source, a brain injury occurs when there’s a sudden blow, jolt or bump to the head that damages the brain. These are often referred to as “closed” head injuries. In contrast, when a bullet or other object pierces the skull, a “penetrating” brain injury has occurred.
TBI symptoms are usually described as being mild, moderate, or severe. Yet more than one brain injury advocate has noted that such injuries are rarely “mild” – except to those who have not sustained one. That’s because the slowly evolving repercussions of any brain injury are often subtle and profound. The most common brain injuries are described in greater detail below.
Neuroplasticity often proves crucial to each patient’s recovery
Whenever the brain is damaged, its neurons cannot function properly. We all depend on these nerve cells to properly receive and interpret sensory information from the outside world, to send out proper motor commands to our body’s muscles, and to precisely manage countless daily electrical signals. Neuroplasticity makes it possible for our brains to heal partially or fully — even after sustaining damage. This process helps our brains form new connections and pathways (and to alter how its circuitry is wired) so that we can keep functioning at our best.
New Yorkers & others sustain staggering numbers of daily and annual brain injuries
Many people first become deeply interested in this topic after suffering a brain injury caused by a
bad fall at work, a major New York motor vehicle accident, or some type of assault. Sadly, about 400 new traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) requiring ER treatment or hospitalization occur daily in this state.
The New York Department of Health states that during one recent year, these annual events lead to 112,000 emergency room visits, 19,000 hospitalizations, and 2,000 deaths. And annually, it’s estimated that about 2.5 (to 2.8) million Americans sustain traumatic brain injuries. In 2020, there were just over 64,000 TBI-related deaths in this country. Many have referred to this as a “silent epidemic.”
Here’s a brief overview of how brain injuries affect many of us; the most common signs and symptoms of these events; and the types of treatment options that may be available to adults and children. By reviewing this information, we can each more readily help ourselves and others obtain the appropriate care that’s needed in a timely fashion.
Broad categories and symptoms for traumatic brain injuries
Here are several types of TBIs.
- Concussions. These are often referred to as mild forms of a brain injury. Patients often report one or more of the following symptoms: headaches, fatigue and drowsiness, nausea or vomiting, speech problems, and dizziness. A person who just suffered a mild blow to the head or concussion may also complain of a new sensitivity to light or sound – or blurred vision, ringing in the ears, and a bad taste in the mouth. (Several of these symptoms are also common signs of certain types of seizures).
New research indicates that the results of some concussions can be quite severe.
Harmful concussion syndromes can also permanently damage a patient’s health. Some brain injury accident survivors with concussions may require lengthy care and treatment.
- A coup-contrecoup brain injury. This type of brain injury causes the damaged brain to slide up against the opposite side of the impact site. Severe car accidents and head blows often cause these profoundly serious brain injuries.
- A brain contusion. This refers to a bruise to the brain that’s linked to bleeding under the skin. This type of damage can prove quite serious, depending on how long the bleeding continues. Some contusions may require surgery to stop the bleeding.
- A diffuse axonal injury. A DAI is like a concussion, but more severe. Since the brain movement is so extreme, serious tears can occur in the interior of the brain. During this type of head injury, the brain actually shifts and rotates inside the skull. These microscopic bits of brain damage are still imperceptible on many or most MRIs and CT scans. They may account for many forms of epilepsy and other neurological conditions that simply cannot be documented by modern brain imaging.
- Moderate to severe brain injuries. A patient who has suffered one of these may lose consciousness for a few minutes to several hours. (Immediate medical treatment is crucial). Commonly reported symptoms are listed below.
- Headaches that may be worsening
- Multiple vomiting spells
- Loss of coordination
- Seizures or convulsions
- Dilation of the eye’s pupils
- Clear fluids poring out of the patient’s nose or ears
- An inability to wake up from sleep
- Slurred speech
- A coma or a profound level of confusion
- Combative behavior
Types of brain injuries that are often delayed after falls, car accidents & assaults
Here are some secondary injuries to falls, hitting your head during a vehicle accident, and having a falling object at work hit your head. These types of added injuries make it clear that the negligence of others can cause many secondary injuries.
- Also referred to as cerebral vascular accidents, these events can unfold hours,
days, or even weeks after a new brain injury. They occur when a proper amount of blood supply cannot reach some part of the brain – or a blood vessel simply bursts. As a result, strokes can cause long-term disabilities, various forms of brain damage — or even death.
- Epilepsy. Stated simply, this disorder (it’s not a disease) develops when the brain’s electrical signals required for daily living become disorganized and difficult to control. As a result, seizures or convulsions may occur. While drugs and some medical devices can help control many types of epilepsy – some patients still cannot obtain adequate medical care. This is largely due to epilepsy receiving so little research funding compared to Parkinson’s and other more highly visible and respected medical conditions.
- At some point, too little blood flow may develop in the brain.
- Cerebral edema. The brain can swell, requiring immediate medical interventions – sometimes even dangerous forms of surgery.
- Hypoxia. Too little oxygen can begin circulating in the brain.
- Meningitis. Infections can start to take hold within the brain’s meningeal layers, and diverse types of abscesses may develop.
- Hypercapnia. This condition involves excessively elevated levels of carbon dioxide levels developing in the brain.
These are just a few of the secondary brain injuries that can develop within the first weeks or months after both mild and severe traumatic brain injuries.
Sadly, every day in New York — countless pedestrians, vehicle passengers, and construction workers are surprised to realize that they have suffered a life-changing brain injury. Our New York brain injury accident attorneys work hard to help TBI survivors win the settlement amounts (or verdicts) owed to them so they can continue down their separate roads to recovery.
Rehabilitation for adult brain injuries in New York
Most large metropolitan area hospitals provide a variety of excellent inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs for TBI (traumatic brain injury) survivors. And New York City’s Mount Sinai Medical Center has one of this country’s 16 top brain research programs. Simply ask your neurologist or brain surgeon for a recommendation.
NYU Langone Health offers one of the many local brain injury recovery and rehabilitation programs for adults. Brainline.org provides links to several other New York state hospitals ready to help treat brain injury patients.
Traumatic brain injury treatment programs for children are finally improving
Fortunately, new resources are being developed for children who suffer TBI’s caused by serious falls, being subjected to abusive shaking — or being present during a serious vehicle accident. Their needs are quite critical since immediate and extensive care is often required to help provide them with proper learning skills for school. Without early intervention and treatment, children who have suffered serious TBIs may soon find it extremely hard to compete as well as others in schools — and later in America’s competitive job force.
At present, New York-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital and New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital both offer Pediatric Intensive Care Units that can often readily treat kids who need complex neurosurgery or brain trauma care.
One of this country’s leading providers for children suffering from brain injuries is the Cleveland Clinic. This medical group offers a program called the Acquired Brain Injury Multidisciplinary Clinic. New York area hospitals may want to review and copy the highly diverse inpatient and outpatient programs offered by this clinic. Children seen in this program can access all the following types of care.
- Basic physical medical care and rehabilitation
- Psychological support and care
- Speech therapy
- Recreational and occupational therapies
- Social work support with coordinating the many diverse types of care. Many parents and other caregivers are pleased to learn that a multidisciplinary team evaluates every child.
Finding traumatic brain injury support groups near you
New Yorkers can often find excellent support group activities that are run by the Brain Injury Association of New York State. If they cannot help you find a support group for adults or children in your part of the state – there’s an excellent chance that a local neurologist or hospital
will be willing to help you start such a program. Registered nurses and others can often help monitor such meetings once or twice a month over Zoom – or other similar online platforms.
If you have suffered a serious brain injury after an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you need to contact our New York City traumatic brain injury law firm. We will carefully investigate all the facts of your case, review all your medical records, and then fight hard to win the maximum compensation available to you. We want every client to fully recover for all lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, and other losses.