Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when an external force damages brain tissue. Each year in the United States, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), an estimated 1.5 million to 2 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury, and Florida is home to about 93,000 TBIs each year, according to the Brain Injury Association of Florida (BIAF). ASHA reports that half of all TBIs nationwide happen in transportation accidents, though for people age 75 or older, falls are the leading cause of TBI hospitalization. In Florida, according to BIAF, 39.6 percent of traumatic brain injuries in 2005 were caused by falls, while 20.8 percent were caused by auto accidents. When an accident leaves one suffering from a traumatic brain injury, an experienced Orlando accident lawyer can advise the victim of his or her legal rights.
Traumatic brain injuries can affect patients long after they have been released from the hospital. In fact, ASHA says that approximately one-third of adult patients hospitalized for a TBI will need help with daily activities one year after their discharge. By 2015, BIAF expects that 435,350 people in Florida will be living with TBI-related disabilities. Living with a TBI-related disability affects victims and their families emotionally and financially, and a compassionate Orlando injury attorney will help those with traumatic brain injuries understand their legal rights and whether they are entitled to compensation under the law.
A traumatic brain injury can happen in one of two ways: a patient can experience a penetrating head injury when a foreign object enters the brain and damages a certain area, or a patient can sustain a closed head injury from a blow during a car accident, truck accident, bike accident, slip and fall accident or other incident. Both types of traumatic brain injury, penetrating and closed, can cause primary damage, including skull fractures, bruised brain tissue, bleeding inside the brain, blood clots, tears and nerve damage, as well as secondary damage, such as swelling, fever, seizures, chemical imbalances and cardiac, lung, or nutritional changes. While traumatic brain injuries may seem scary and in some instances catastrophic, they are treatable.
Symptoms of a TBI
It may be days or weeks after an accident before a patient experiences symptoms of a traumatic brain injury. If you or a loved one experiences any of the below symptoms following a head injury, seek medical treatment:
- Headaches or neck pain that won’t go away
- Problems remembering, concentrating or making decisions
- Slowed thinking, speaking, reading or acting
- Getting lost or easily confused
- Tiredness or lack of motivation or energy
- Mood or sleep changes
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of balance
- Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds or distractions
- Blurred vision or eyes tiring easily
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
- Ringing in the ears
Treatment of a TBI
A patient’s prognosis will depend on factors such as the severity and type of injury and what parts of the brain have been affected. For mild injuries, treatment usually involves resting both the body and the brain. If the injury is moderate to severe, treatment may involve working with neurologists, psychiatrists, physiatrists, rehabilitation therapists, case managers and social workers, and recovery may take months to years. A patient may even require long-term care or supervised living. If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury due to the negligence of others, a knowledgeable Orlando injury lawyer can evaluate your legal options.
Preventing a TBI
The steps below can reduce your chances of sustaining a traumatic brain injury:
- Wear a helmet when riding a bike. Approximately 85 percent of head injuries sustained during a bicycle accident can be prevented with the use of helmets.
- Wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a vehicle and use child safety or booster seats for small children.
- Avoid falls in the home by using step stools to reach high items, installing handrails on stairways, using safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs if there are small children in the home, using non-slip mats in the tub or shower, removing tripping hazards, and installing window guards to prevent children from falling out of windows.
- Keep firearms stored unloaded in a locked cabinet, with bullets stored in a separate, secure location.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury following a slip and fall accident, a car accident, a truck accident or a bike accident, learn about your legal rights by contacting an experienced Orlando accident attorney.