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Traumatic Brain Injury - Accidents a Common Cause

  • Published: 2011-08-07 : Author: Jacobs & Jacobs, P.C.
  • Synopsis: Learn about traumatic brain injury and how to reduce risk during your favorite summer activities.

Main Document

Learn about traumatic brain injury and how to reduce risk during your favorite summer activities.

Every year, an estimated 1.7 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury ("TBI").

Fortunately, three quarters of TBIs are relatively minor. Even so, TBI is to blame for over 50,000 deaths annually, and some five million people currently live with TBI related disabilities. Knowing more about TBI and its causes can be beneficial for anyone whose life has been touched by a severe head injury.

What Is TBI

A TBI may result either from a blow to the cranium, or a penetrating head wound. Not every head impact results in a TBI, but those that do interfere with normal brain functioning.

TBIs can vary widely in severity. A concussion is a mild form of TBI that is usually not life-threatening (although the potential negative effects of a concussion should not be underestimated). More severe TBIs often involve lengthy periods of amnesia or unconsciousness. Permanent disabilities, or even death, are not unheard of in the most serious cases of TBI.

Warning signs of TBI immediately following an injury include any loss of consciousness or memory, a change in mental state or localized problems in nerve functioning. TBI can result in a diverse range of long-term effects as well. Some common issues include balance, coordination, or strength impairments, language and memory defects and emotional or behavioral disorders.

Risk Factors/Causes

Certain age groups are at an elevated risk for TBI, including children under four, adults over 65 and teenagers aged 15 to 19 are at the highest risk for TBI. Across every age group, males are more likely than females to sustain a TBI.

Falls, motor vehicle accidents and sports injuries are some of the most common causes of TBI. Motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian accidents alone account for about half of TBIs.

Many of the activities that can lead to TBI skyrocket in popularity during the summer months. Motorcycling and bicycling, for instance, are two warm-weather activities that bear a close relationship to TBI: head injuries are the leading cause of death and disability from cycling accidents.

Safety Tips

Of course, wearing a helmet that fits properly and meets safety standards while participating in riskier activities is one way to drastically lower your odds of sustaining a serious TBI.

In Connecticut, all bicyclists under the age of 16 are required by law to wear a helmet. Motorcycle riders are likewise legally compelled to use approved headgear at age 17 and younger. Although older bicyclists and motorcycle enthusiasts are not subject to helmet laws in Connecticut, helmet use is always a good idea for anyone operating a two-wheeled vehicle.

Helmets serve as an effective failsafe for cyclists who are involved in crashes. But, avoiding an accident altogether is far more preferable. Wearing bright, reflective clothing, clearly signaling to drivers and using head and tail lights on your bike all make you more visible. Bicyclists can also lower risk by avoiding the most dangerous situations, like riding at night or in heavy traffic.

For a suspected TBI sustained during any activity, it is imperative to seek immediate, competent medical attention. Every year, thousands of cases of traumatic brain injury are misdiagnosed or ignored. Even mild forms of TBI can cause long-lasting damage without treatment.

Staggering Costs

The economic toll TBI takes in terms of direct medical expenses as well as indirect costs like lost productivity annually exceeds $60 billion. The estimated lifetime care expenditures alone for someone suffering from a severe TBI are between $600,000 and $1.8 million. As burdensome as the financial costs of TBI can be, they pale in comparison to the loss of time, companionship and the health of a loved one.

After seeing to the immediate medical needs of a TBI victim, it is important to get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney. You and your loved one may be able to recover monetary damages to help pay for medical bills, property damage and wages lost due to an inability to work, in addition to compensation for pain and suffering.

It is important to act quickly, however. If you wait too long, the statute of limitations can bar a lawsuit to recover for a TBI. In addition, it often becomes easier for an at-fault party to dodge responsibility for an accident as time goes on; witness memories fade, physical evidence disappears and it becomes more challenging for your attorney to complete a thorough investigation.

If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI, do not wait--call a personal attorney today to explore your legal options.

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