What you should know about traumatic brain injuries

Trauma to the brain can cause serious side effects that show up later, even when the initial injury does not seem to be severe.

Many people in New York have experienced a bump on the head at some point in their lives. This type of injury can be superficial and heal quickly, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, head injuries result in death for around 138 Americans every day.

What is a TBI?

WebMD explains that a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, happens when the brain sustains damage that interrupts the brain's normal function. This could happen when a blow to the head causes a fracture in the skull and affects the brain. It could also happen when there is no contact with the outside of the head. For example, if a person is in a car accident and experiences whiplash, the force of the motion could slam the brain against the inside of the skull.

A brain bruise, with or without swelling, is known as a contusion, while bleeding that results in a clot is called a hematoma. Concussion may be the most familiar type of TBI, but people may not realize that even minor concussions could lead to long-term damage.

What are the leading causes of TBI?

The CDC lists falls as the number one source of traumatic brain injuries that sent people in the U.S. to the emergency department, led to hospitalization or caused death between 2006 and 2010. Those in the 65 and older age group were much more likely to sustain a fatal TBI from a fall. Blunt trauma and motor vehicle accidents contributed to nearly 30 percent of the total TBIs, and the second highest number of TBI-related deaths was attributed to traffic crashes.

What are the symptoms of TBI?

Even when a person never loses consciousness after a blow to the head, it could still cause quite a few problems, according to the Mayo Clinic. At the outset of a mild head injury, there could be some disorientation or confusion, a dazed feeling or dizziness. The trauma could also cause sleep-related issues, fatigue, nausea or headache, as well as mental or mood disturbances, visual or auditory problems or difficulty remembering or concentrating. These side effects may not show up until days, weeks or even years after the accident.

The more severe the head injury, the more pronounced these symptoms may be. In addition, if the injury causes nerve damage, a person may experience issues affecting the face, such as paralysis, numbness, loss of sight or smell and difficulty swallowing. Behavioral changes, problems with communication and emotional problems may also be caused by a TBI.

Brain injuries often result in ongoing medical needs, and at the same time a person may lose the ability to hold a job or maintain normal function. When another person's negligence or reckless behavior causes the injury, an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to provide assistance in holding the responsible party liable.