25 Feb

National Brain Injury Awareness Month: Traumatic Brain Injuries

Personal Injury

traumatic brain injury

March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month, and because brain injuries are actually on the rise in the United States, we are taking this blog post to discuss different kinds of brain injuries, tips for preventing brain injuries, and what to do if you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury in an accident that wasn’t your fault.

There are many ways that people can get brain injuries. They can fall – from heights, or just fall and land the wrong way – the CDC recently reported that fall-related brain injury deaths in the United States increased by 17% between 2008 and 2017 (young children and elderly adults are the most at-risk for this category). Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, all things considered.

They can be injured while playing sports – of the estimated 1.7 to 3.8 million traumatic brain injuries that occur each year in the United States, 10% arise due to sports and recreational activities (amongst American children and teens, sports-related brain injuries account for over 21% of all traumatic brain injuries).

They can be involved in a motor vehicle accident as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, cyclist, or motorcyclist – vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of TBI-related hospitalizations after falls. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of hospitalization for teens and adults between the ages of 15 to 44, according to the CDC. (Because we are personal injury lawyers, we most commonly encounter victims of TBIs sustained during a vehicle accident or after a slip and fall on someone else’s property.)

They can be a victim of violence – child abuse and domestic assault can lead to brain injuries, including shaken baby syndrome, which is a traumatic brain injury that occurs when infants are violently shaken. People in the military can be injured after experiencing an explosive blast, where a pressure wave passing through disrupts brain function, or a penetrating wound.

Not all brain injuries are classified as “traumatic” – traumatic brain injuries are caused by a blow to the head, while non-traumatic brain injuries can be the result of illness, oxygen deprivation, aneurysms, cardiac arrest, lead poisoning, tumors, and more. While traumatic brain injuries only affect certain areas, non-traumatic brain injuries can spread to the cellular structure of the brain.

Traumatic brain injuries obviously sound serious, and they are; while TBIs range from mild to moderate to severe, severe TBIs can cause comas, vegetative or minimally conscious states, seizures, fluid buildup in the brain, infections, strokes, headaches, vertigo, cranial nerve damages, paralysis, hearing or vision loss, cognitive impairments like memory loss, difficulty speaking or writing, behavioral changes, degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, and even brain death. In short, getting a TBI is dangerous, potentially fatal, and should be avoided if possible.

Not all accidents are up to your control, but there are a few things that you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones as safe as is up to you.

  • Always wear a seat belt while riding in vehicles.

    Seat belts keep you in your vehicle, which is where you want to stay. They keep your body securely fastened and dramatically decrease the risk of traumatic brain injuries occurring, either from you leaving your seat and your head striking the windshield, or being ejected from the vehicle and hitting your head on something else. The CDC found that among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat belts reduced the risk of death by 45% and cut the risk of serious injury by 50% in case of an accident. Passengers and drivers not wearing a seat belt are 30x more likely to be ejected from a vehicle in case of a crash (more than 75% of people who are ejected die from their injuries). Wear them, even in the backseat, and make sure before taking off that your passengers are all wearing them too.

  • Always wear a helmet when playing a contact sport, riding a bike or scooter, etc.

    Sadly, a fall as little as 2 feet can result in a TBI. Our brains are incredibly sensitive, and we shouldn’t take unnecessary risks like not wearing a helmet while riding something or letting our children ride without one. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88%. Yet it is also reported that 55% of children reported not always wearing a helmet while riding their bike.

  • Evaluate your fall risk.

    For elderly adults, falls are more likely to happen because of muscle weakness, decreased flexibility, slower reflexes, vision deterioration, or forgetfulness of where objects are. There are many things that seniors can do to prevent falls, such as decluttering their home, installing grab bars in the bathroom, and exercising regularly. View this list for more ways to avoid falling in or around your home.

  • Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or while texting.

    There is simply no excuse for getting behind the wheel while drunk or buzzed or high – your reflexes are scientifically proven to be slower, regardless of how “fine” you feel, and you could hit another vehicle or another object and suffer a serious brain injury. Distracted driving is unfortunately more common, but not much less dangerous – taking your eyes off the road, even if just for a second, increases the chances that you will not be able to stop quickly enough if the driving conditions around you change.

  • Check the playground.

    Unfortunately, many children suffer traumatic brain injuries after falling while using playground equipment like monkey bars, swings, or climbing equipment. You can help keep your child as safe as you can by ensuring that the playground you take them to has soft material under it, like wood chips, sand, or mulch (as opposed to gravel or cement or just ground), and that there are no tree stumps or rocks that could trip your child before releasing them to play.

  • Don’t put off getting a medical exam after a fall or a crash.

    It is not always immediately apparent that a traumatic brain injury has occurred following an accident, impact, or fall. Some signs and symptoms may appear immediately, but others take weeks to show up – and by then it may be too late. If you or your child or someone you love is involved in an accident or had a fall and hit their head, even if you/they do not “feel” hurt, it is incredibly important to go get checked out by a medical professional right away in order to prevent life-threatening complications.

Even if you follow all of the tips in this blog, you ultimately do not have control over the actions of others or accidents occurring. Traumatic brain injuries can be devastating physically, emotionally, and financially; if you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, The Florida Law Group can help you fight to hold them accountable and recover the maximum monetary damages you deserve. We have recovered over $1 billion dollars for our clients. Our compassionate personal injury attorneys are standing by to hear your story and fight for justice for you!