The Many Shades of Brain Injury

You might think of a brain injury as an obvious and life-altering condition. Brain injury accidents may seem cataclysmic, thanks to the popularization of them as plot devices by authors such as Nicholas Sparks or movies like 50 First Dates. In reality, brain injuries are not always severe enough to cause permanent change to a person’s daily life. Simply put, brain injuries occur on a spectrum from minor to severe.

However, brain injuries occur more easily and in more ways than most people realize. Understanding of brain injuries in the United States is very limited, with only a media-informed knowledge of severe brain injury. Because people do not realize the many ways in which brain injury can occur, they do not always take action when they need to.

The Different Types of Brain Injury

All brain injuries involve damage to the skull severe enough to cause harm to the brain. However, brain injuries can range from mild trauma to severe, life-threatening disability. Four main types of injury disrupt the brain’s normal function.

  • Acquired brain injury (ABI) refers to damage that occurs at a cellular level. Common causes of ABI include tumors, strokes, and other forms of neurological illnesses. ABIs are not associated with major physical injuries and usually associated with pressure on the brain.
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is what most people think of when they hear about these types of injuries. An external force damages the skull and/or causes the brain to move in the skull. As a result, severe brain damage can occur.
  • Congenital brain damage results due to genetics or birth injuries. While not included in the standard medical definition of brain injury, this form of damage can result in severe complications to an infant. For example, oxygen deprivation can cause severe congenital brain damage, leading to cerebral palsy.
  • Localized or focal brain damage is another form of brain injury not discussed with ABI or TBI. In these cases, a person suffers significant neurological damage when a bullet enters the brain.
Common Causes of Brain Injury

Multiple situations and factors could lead to brain injury. Oxygen deprivation is one of the most common causes of brain damage – when the brain does not receive oxygen for a long period, brain cells begin to die and irreversible damage occurs.

Common causes of TBI include:

  • Physical altercations and violence
  • Injuries during sports
  • Slips, falls, and trips
  • Car accidents
  • Blows to the head

On the other hand, common causes of ABI include:

  • Neurological infections and illnesses
  • Strokes
  • Tumors
  • Aneurysms
  • Long-term drug abuse
  • Exposure to poison or toxic materials

In the case of congenital brain damage, many injuries occur due to oxygen deprivation and low blood flow during birth. Umbilical cord complications, such as strangulation during birth, can also lead to brain damage.

Doctors usually have fetal monitoring devices to detect any abnormalities in a baby’s heart rate, allowing them to give proper care to minimize the risk to a baby. Sometimes, delayed treatment or ignored symptoms can result in permanent brain damage in newborns. This brain damage can lead to severe neurological disability, including difficulty walking, speaking, and eating.

The Numerous Symptoms of Brain Damage

There are four major categories of brain injury symptoms: cognitive, physical, perceptual, and behavioral. Depending on the type of injury and the circumstances of the brain damage, people will experience different symptoms. If you experience harsh symptoms, such as a loss of consciousness or severe headaches, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Cognitive symptoms of brain injury include:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty putting words to thoughts
  • Poor attention span
  • Difficulty processing information
  • Impaired decision-making

Physical symptoms include:

  • Constant headaches
  • Paralysis
  • Tremors and seizures
  • Light sensitivity
  • Unconsciousness
  • Mental and physical fatigue
  • Slurred speech
  • Inconsistent sleep

Perceptual symptoms include:

  • Difficulty with spatial awareness
  • Difficulty keeping balance
  • Difficulty sensing time
  • Greater sensitivity to pain

Behavioral symptoms include:

  • Significant changes in emotional reactions
  • Increased aggression and irritability
  • Low stress tolerance
  • Sluggishness and fatigue
When Should You Seek Medical Attention for a Brain Injury?

When it comes to brain injuries, time is of the essence. The longer an injury goes undetected, the more severe the consequences can be. Waiting too long to seek help can lead to irreversible damage and lifelong consequences. Even if you think the injury is not that serious, it is better to play it safe and visit a doctor immediately.

If you do not have signs of a serious head injury and feel alert, normal, and responsive, the injury is likely mild. However, if you or someone you know starts to experience any of the following symptoms following a head or brain injury, seek emergency medical attention immediately:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Constant, worsening headache
  • Difficulty balancing
  • Memory loss
  • Mood swings
  • Increased aggression and irritability

If you or someone you love experienced a brain injury due to medical malpractice or a preventable accident, you may require legal assistance. The attorneys at Cerebral Palsy LLC can help you discuss your options for damage recovery.

Contact Cerebral Palsy LLC to receive your free case evaluation today.