Brain injuries are often poorly understood by the general public. This is, in part, because the symptoms can vary widely based on the portion of the brain that was damaged. Similarly, to the casual observer, the effects of a brain injury may not be readily observable or, if observed, may be mistaken for a different condition. Looking at the different aspects of a brain injury may help to promote a better understanding.
Some brain injuries are mild, meaning that they result in only minimal damage that has a small effect on a person’s functioning. Others are severe, meaning that their effect is more widespread. For example, a severe brain injury may cause the patient to go into a coma or experience paralysis in one or more limbs.
The effects of a brain injury may be either short-term or long-term. For example, the patient may experience a brief loss of consciousness but come to within a matter of minutes, or the patient may go into a coma that can last a long time. The duration of the effects usually relates to the severity of the injury, with more severe injuries typically resulting in effects that last longer.
Brain injuries are either acquired or traumatic. Acquired brain injuries are caused by a disease or medical condition, such as an infection or a stroke. Traumatic brain injuries result from an external force, such as a blow or jolt to the brain. Penetration by a foreign object can also result in TBI, as can violent shaking or explosions. Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, responsible for approximately half of all TBIs.
Because the brain is responsible for not only conscious thoughts and actions, but also automatic body functions, the symptoms of a brain injury can be wide-ranging. However, they can be classified into four broad categories.
- Behavioral/Emotional: The patient may exhibit increased aggressiveness, impatience, and irritability. Emotional reactions may be heightened or flattened.
- Cognitive: The patient may experience memory loss or demonstrate a shortened attention span. Decision-making ability may be impaired, and the patient may have difficulty understanding abstract concepts.
- Perceptual: The patient may experience smell and taste disorders or changes in hearing and vision. Sense of touch may be affected, and sensitivity to pain may be heightened. The patient may exhibit balance issues or spatial disorientation.
- Physical: Physical signs of brain injury are often — though not always — observable by others and can include loss of consciousness, slurred speech, seizures, tremors, and paralysis. Less observable symptoms include light sensitivity, extreme physical and mental fatigue, and persistent headaches.
Approximately 2 million brain injuries occur in the United States per year, of which 200,000 are traumatic brain injuries. If someone else is responsible for your brain injury, a brain injury accident lawyer, like a brain injury accident lawyer in Memphis, TN, may be able to help you hold that party accountable. Contact a lawyer today to set up a consultation.
Thanks to Wiseman Bray PLLC for their insight into better understanding brain injuries.