Each year in the United States, nearly 1.5 million people will suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Causes for TBI vary from falls to traffic crashes and physical assaults. Additionally, a large number of military personnel returning from active war zones, such as the war in Iraq, suffer from TBIs. Traumatic Brain Injury is defined by the Brain Injury Association of America as a “blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain.” While not all blows or jolts to the head result in TBI, it’s sometimes hard to tell the severity of a brain injury right away. A TBI can result in short or long-term independent function problems.
It’s reported that, of those who suffer TBIs, 50,000 die each year. The latest data show that 235,000 are hospitalized with 1.1 million persons treated and released from an emergency department. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 3 million Americans currently have a long-term need, which may be for life, for help in performing daily activities as a result of a TBI. Part of the insidious nature of TBIs is they are often missed in initial medical examinations after a blow or jolt to the head. Symptoms are subtle and can be easily overlooked. Also, the effects of TBI may be delayed and not be evident for days or weeks before they appear.
Carol Stanley, one of our employees, is quite familiar on a personal basis with the many surprises of TBI. In January 2007, she received word that her son Jason, a college student, had been the victim of a violent assault. Jason was pushed to the ground and hit his head on the pavement. While he was unconscious, his attackers continued to beat him. When Jason was initially examined by emergency personnel, he seemed relatively intact. He did have some cuts to his head but they weren’t serious. Jason’s doctors felt he was not seriously injured and assured his mother he would be fine. But within the next 24 hours, Jason woke up vomiting blood. Carol rushed him to the emergency room. Jason couldn’t stand up without becoming dizzy and nauseated. Doctors then discovered fractures to his skull and jaw, and damage to the nerves in his right ear. Jason was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit, where he stayed for five days under close observation in the neurology ward.
Although Jason recovered, he is left with a Traumatic Brain Injury. He and his mother are now learning something else most people don’t know about TBI: there are long-term lasting effects. People who suffer from TBI experience cognitive defects including difficulties with attention and memory, confusion, sleep disorder, emotional disorders, speech and language problems, and sensory and perceptual problems. They also might experience physical problems such as chronic pain and seizures. TBI also can increase the risk of developing conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other brain disorders that can become more prevalent with age. You can read Jason’s Story at www.southerninjurylawyer.com.
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