If you’ve ever seen a movie where a character’s concussion is played for laughs, you’ve already witnessed one of the most persistent myths about those who have traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Often sustained after catastrophic car accidents or violent assaults, a TBI can have long-lasting mental and physical repercussions, many of which remain invisible to the public at large.
At Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP, our Birmingham brain injury attorneys understand just how serious these injuries can be. From evidence that TBIs are strongly linked to homelessness to the high rates of TBIs found in prison populations, it’s important that we debunk the cultural stigmas surrounding this condition – and allow those injured the chance to recover from their injuries.
What Is a TBI?
There are many different levels of traumatic brain injury, starting at mild concussions and ending with permanent damage to portions of the brain. TBIs can result anytime that the victim experiences a severe blow to the head, whether caused by a fender-bender car accident or a sports-related injury. It’s also possible to suffer similar brain damage due to lack of oxygen, although these are called “non-traumatic brain injuries” due to the lack of direct force.
Here are the different medical categories of TBI and their general symptoms:
- Mild: Also called a concussion or a minor head trauma, the symptoms of even a mild TBI can last for up to a year (longer if untreated.) Symptoms may include confusion, memory loss, fatigue, dizziness, depression, and seizures.
- Moderate: In order to diagnose a moderate brain injury, doctors will look to see how long you were unconscious. If the loss of consciousness was greater than 30 minutes, the brain injury will be classified as moderate. Symptoms are more severe than mild TBIs, and rehabilitative therapy may be required.
- Severe: Also known as a coma. There will often be little to no meaningful response or voluntary action, but the patient can still experience some degree of sensation.
- Vegetative State: In a vegetative state, the patient will have no response to pain or other sensations, although they may experience some arousal.
- Brain Death: No brain function, and little to no signs of life.
Common Myths About TBIs
Saturday morning cartoons and action movies have all contributed to a strangely cavalier culture around brain injuries. There’s a wealth of misinformation out there, ranging from innocent jokes to actively harmful advice and prescribed treatments.
Here are some of the most common myths we’ve encountered:
- A concussion isn’t that serious. Perhaps the most harmful myths center around mild TBIs, as the patient may exhibit more subtle signs of brain damage. But a concussion is serious enough that doctors recommend immediate treatment, and it can take up to a full year for the symptoms of a concussion to subside.
- You need a loss of consciousness to have a TBI. Although loss of consciousness can indicate a brain injury of any degree, you don’t actually have to go unconscious to be diagnosed with a TBI.
- If you’re not bleeding, it’s not a TBI. In addition to measuring the degree of your brain injury, the doctor will assess whether you have an open or penetrating head wound, or a closed (blunt) head wound. While open wounds carry more serious risks due to the possibility of hemorrhage and infection, blunt wounds can be equally serious, and result in brain death in severe cases.
- TBIs have to show up in brain scanning. It may be surprising, but modern CT and MRI scans cannot always accurately diagnose TBI, especially if you have a mild to moderate brain injury. While technology is always improving, doctors do not currently rely on brain scans to diagnose TBI.
- It’s easy to recover from a mild TBI. Nothing could be further from the truth. From rehabilitation to cognitive behavioral therapy, mild TBIs can demand a lot of time, money, and medical attention to heal.
The True Cost of a Brain Injury
While anyone can sustain a traumatic brain injury, the sad truth is that TBIs are disproportionately represented among those in poverty and in prison, often because of the ongoing threats of violence both of these populations face. As one UK study discovered, more than 65% of their female prisoners had some form of TBI due to experiencing higher rates of domestic violence. And a 2012 article in Scientific American noted that American prisoners have a brain injury rate that is 7 times higher than the general population.
Another study found up to 45% of all homeless men had sustained a TBI at some point in their lives, even though the general population experiences brain injuries at a rate of only 12%. Most often taking place in their early teenage years, untreated and unacknowledged brain injuries may have played a role in causing these individuals to face difficult financial circumstances, by combining high medical bills with lingering mental and physical symptoms.
Dedicated and Compassionate Counsel for TBI Victims
No matter how you sustained a TBI, it’s clear that the effects should not be taken lightly, even if the people around you fail to understand its seriousness. At our injury law firm in Birmingham, we’ll always listen to your story with a compassionate ear, and help you seek fitting damages from the negligent party that caused your TBI. With a track record of success that stretches back over 130 years, we can provide the representation that you need to seek fair compensation in the wake of a TBI.
Ready to get started? Call 855-965-1688 today for a free consultation with our Birmingham brain injury attorneys.
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