The Long-Term Consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury
Most people don’t know that even a so-called mild traumatic brain injury can have profound and long-lasting effects. A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a medical emergency that occurs when there has been a hard blow to the head or an item has penetrated the brain. Any event that causes the brain to bounce around within the skull can lead to a TBI.
From here, chemical changes can take place and brain cells are damaged and can begin to die. TBIs cause many different types of injuries, some of which may show up years later. There are mild, moderate, and severe TBIs, but each one should be looked at and treated as soon as possible.
How do car accidents cause traumatic brain injuries?
Car accidents can lead to a TBI in many different ways. Each accident, even one as simple as a fender-bender, can cause this type of injury – and it can even become severe. When an accident happens, there does not have to be a direct blow to the head for a brain injury to arise. Any kind of change in momentum where the brain continues to move within the skull will lead to a person experiencing a TBI. If a vehicle hits you from the side at high speeds, your head may involuntarily move from side to side with incredible force. Even if your head does not hit the window, this movement could at least lead to a concussion.
If a car hits you from behind, your head can go back and forth, also causing your brain to shift. This sudden jerking can cause diffuse axonal injuries, where the brain’s nerve fibers tear. These are severe and can become life-threatening. It could also lead to an intracranial hematoma, where blood begins to fill up in the brain due to a blood vessel breaking. These may not even become visible for a few days or weeks after the accident happens.
A vehicle striking a pedestrian directly can be even more dangerous. Since a pedestrian does not have any protection in an accident, they become more vulnerable to TBIs. Aside from brain contusions and the brain jolting around within the skull, many objects can penetrate the brain. In a car accident, sharp glass and other debris may be flung around at high speeds. Bone fractures from the strike can also lead to the brain being pierced by bone fragments. When an accident happens, it’s important to remember that concussions can be considered “invisible injuries.” Even if you think that you may be fine, or your loved ones feel that you are okay because they do not visibly see any symptoms, you should get yourself checked out by a medical professional.
How expensive can traumatic brain injuries be?
Defining exactly how much a TBI can cost is very difficult. Every situation is different and involves distinct injuries. Each accident could lead to varying vehicle expenses and other types of losses. Nevertheless, it can go without saying that a TBI can lead to thousands of dollars in expenses, especially medical. In some instances, it can cost a person millions of dollars in medical bills and loss of wages, especially if coma or death were involved, as medical costs are highest for those who do not survive.
When it comes to medical bills, some of the costs that can be considered are rehabilitation, medications, and other special service costs. Some of the common costs associated with TBI include the following:
- Hospital bills can average up to more than $400,000, according to the National Institutes of Health
- Medical equipment can cost anywhere from $1,200-$1,500 per piece up to $30,000 or more total, according to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- In-home care can cost upwards of $4,000 per month, according to the publication Paying for Senior Care
- If you need your home modified, it can cost anywhere from $820 to more than $8,000, according to estimates from HomeAdvisor
A TBI is not only traumatic in the physical and emotional aspects, but also the financial side of things.
What are the long-term physical effects of traumatic brain injuries?
TBIs can lead to innumerable long-term effects. These effects may start as seemingly benign, such as dizziness, but can eventually lead to serious effects on your health. These injuries can have far-reaching consequences that are not easily seen or recognized by friends or family members, and they can make daily life so much more difficult. A TBI can cause muscle weakness and imbalance, loss of sensation in affected areas, sensory overload, and headaches. Earlier onsets of systemic issues such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are common. It is also usual for victims to have impairments in motor skills, muscle strength, coordination, and eye movement. Other complications include nerve damage, blood clots, stroke, and infections in the brain which cause further damage.
What are the long-term emotional effects of traumatic brain injuries?
Those who suffered a TBI face many long-term emotional and mental effects, as well. They will endure memory problems that can last for months or even years after their injury. Whether temporary or permanent, these are devastating effects that can cause a lot of grief for the patient who has already had to tolerate much physical pain because of the accident. These complications include forgetting appointments, conversations, and familiar places. This can be very frustrating for someone to deal with on a daily basis, as much of our day relies on our memory.
A TBI patient will also undergo mood changes; the way they feel can drastically change after the injury. These constant mood swings can also lead to extreme isolation and depression, as they can feel very hopeless and alone during this time. It may take months or even years for people to see the mental impact that these injuries can have on everyday life. They will also find that they have a decreased ability to multitask and concentrate. They may catch themselves daydreaming more than usual or have trouble paying attention during regular conversations or at their workplace.
Traumatic brain injuries can be life changing. They leave behind thousands of dollars in medical expenses, if not millions if a fatality was involved. The injured person will suffer through years of pain, therapy, and medications before they can recover (if ever fully), depending on the severity of their case. Don’t let this go unseen. Call the office of Breakstone, White, & Gluck, or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation today with a Boston traumatic brain injury attorney.