Identify a traumatic brain injury with these 5 symptoms

hospital buildingAccording to a study by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injuries account for approximately 30 percent of all injury deaths in the U.S. Auto accidents are among the primary causes of TBIs, and were responsible for an estimated 26 percent of TBI-related deaths within a recent four-year span. With 845 automotive crashes on Illinois roadways in 2014, a personal injury lawyer Arlington Heights recognizes that knowing how to identify a TBI has never been more critical. Here’s a look at five common symptoms of brain injury sufferers.

1. Loss of consciousness

Often, loss of consciousness occurs when someone suffers a traumatic brain injury. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the length of the loss of consciousness someone experiences following a TBI can help classify whether they are mild, moderate or severe in nature.

Mild TBIs

Also called a concussion, the Alzheimer’s Association defines mild TBIs as those that either don’t cause loss of consciousness or those that do so for 30 minutes or less. Symptoms occasionally appear at the time of impact or shortly thereafter. However, some symptoms may take days or weeks to become obvious, and while some only last a short while, others can last months or even longer.

Moderate TBIs

Those who experience moderate TBIs are knocked unconscious for more than 30 minutes. Symptoms are frequently similar to those experienced by mild TBI sufferers. However, they may be more severe in nature, and they may take longer to subside.

Severe TBIs

Those who suffer severe TBIs are generally unconscious for a 24-hour period at minimum. As is the case with moderate TBIs, symptoms of severe TBIs are similar to those of mild TBIs. However, they are are typically far more serious and sufficiently longer-lasting.

A personal injury lawyer Arlington Heights knows that while symptoms of TBIs vary in severity, the signs are generally consist among victims.

2. Disruption in Sleep Patterns

According to the University of Washington, many brain injury sufferers also experience sleep disruptions and disturbances as a result of their injuries. This occurs because the brain is in charge of telling the body when it is time to sleep, and any change in brain function may cause issues with normal sleep patterns. Sleep issues may be characterized by:

  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Disrupted sleeping and waking patterns
  • Narcolepsy (falling asleep without warning throughout the day)

While sudden changes in sleep patterns may be an indication of a TBI, some modifications do not become apparent until days, weeks or even months after the initial impact occurs. Any signs of disrupted sleep patterns should be reported to a medical professional if a TBI is suspected.

3. Speech issues

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, deficits in communication are common following a traumatic brain injury. These may include difficulty speaking or understanding when others speak, slurred speech, or trouble properly programming the oral muscles necessary for speech. TBI sufferers may also have trouble reading, writing or spelling properly, and they may struggle with social communication. Difficulty taking turns while speaking or staying on topic during conversation may also be characteristic of TBI. It is not uncommon for those afflicted to be unaware of their deficits which can prove particularly frustrating for friends and family members.

4. Cognitive impairment

ASLHA cites cognitive impairment as another commonly experienced symptom among those suffering from a TBI. Cognitive deficits range in severity, and may encompass struggles with any number of thinking-related tasks. TBI patients often experience issues with solving problems. Many also struggle with what are known as executive functions, or those involving self-evaluation or successfully setting and achieving goals. TBI sufferers may also experience struggles with organizing, keeping plans or staying on task, while many also experience issues maintaining impulse control. While struggling to learn new things is also common among those suffering from traumatic brain injury, most do not suffer from long-term memory loss, meaning it is highly uncommon for patients to forget the faces or names of people they knew prior to the accident.

5. Behavioral issues

Many friends and family members of those suffering from TBIs notice mild, moderate or even severe behavioral changes following the accident. According to ASLHA, these changes may be broad and varied among sufferers, but often include difficulty expressing emotion, irritation, enhanced anxiety, combativeness or general agitation. Increased stress levels and spikes in depression are also common following a brain injury, as are strong mood swings.

According to a report published by NCBI, TBIs can result in additional troubling symptoms among those afflicted, such as pathological laughing or crying, a loss of one’s inhibition, or severe aggression. Close, individualized clinical evaluation is necessary for determining the most effective course of treatment following a TBI.

What to do when a TBI is suspected

Because TBIs often arise from emergency situations, immediate assessment is optimal for successfully identifying, and then treating, the brain injury. A personal injury lawyer Arlington Heights knows that medical professionals may use a 15-step assessment tool to determine the severity of the injury. Because the symptoms of TBI do not always occur until after the initial impact, however, the responsibility of recognizing the signs sometimes falls on friends and family members.

Anyone who suspects a TBI, no matter how long after an accident occurs, should seek medical attention, or see that the person they believe is afflicted does so as quickly as possible. If after seeking medical attention the presence of a TBI is determined, afflicted personnel may want to contact an attorney. 

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