March is national Brain Injury Awareness Month. This week, our Chicago brain injury lawyers will discuss various aspects of traumatic brain injury (TBI), including causes, symptoms, statistics and prevention.
Traumatic brain injuries are sudden, devastating and life-changing events. In the context of a catastrophic truck accident or several-story construction fall, the magnitude of the brain injury is evident. However, in other instances, the true impact of TBI is more subtle.
TBIs are sometimes referred to as the “invisible injury” and “silent epidemic” by doctors and Chicago brain injury attorneys because the effects of such injuries are generally not obvious to most observers, symptoms may take days, months or even years to show, and victims are often unaware that something is wrong. But the effects of TBI are very real, and can result in severely debilitating short and long-term symptoms.
Anyone can be a victim of a TBI at anytime. Therefore it is critical that each individual know what TBI is, be aware of the symptoms of a TBI, know how to prevent or mitigate such injuries, and understand the steps to take and the options available in the event that one believes they may be a victim of a TBI. Call Passen & Powell at (312) 527-4500 to speak with a top Chicago TBI lawyer regarding a potential legal action relating to a brain injury.
What is a TBI, and what happens when a TBI occurs?
A TBI refers to the damage or destruction of brain tissue that occurs due to a blow to the head, i.e. a “closed” head injury, or when the skull is penetrated, i.e. an “open” head injury.
A closed head injury occurs when a blow to the head whips the head forward and backwards or from side to side, as in a car crash, causing the brain to collide at high speed with the interior of the skull. This can cause damage to specific areas of the brain, most commonly the frontal and temporal lobes, through bruising and tearing of brain tissue and blood vessels both at the point of impact and opposite the point of impact. It can also cause damage throughout the brain by stretching and destroying neuronal axons – the long, threadlike arms of nerve cells that link cells to one another, various parts of the brain to other areas of the brain, and the brain to the rest of the body.
While specific damage from bruising and bleeding can often be detected through CAT scans and MRIs, injury to the neuronal axons generally cannot be detected through current imaging technology. The existence of axonal injury is clear, however, from the effects it has on the individual’s functioning.
An open head injury occurs when a skull is penetrated after substantial head trauma, as for example by a bullet. Damage in these types of injuries tends to be specific and limited to the area of injury, but can be as severe as closed head injuries depending on the path of the object within the brain.
TBI results in several physiological effects. Tissue damage can cause substances normally contained safely within brain cells to be released into the brain. The brain also reacts with biochemical and physiological responses, with the brain entering a hyper-metabolic state and releasing glucose in an attempt to protect itself from the injury. These processes may mask evidence of injury, even as they cause further damage and destroy brain cells, resulting in what is called secondary cell death.
A further effect is seen in the individual’s functioning. TBIs are often accompanied by loss of consciousness, varying from a few minutes or hours to several weeks or even months, depending on the severity of the injury. As the individual regains consciousness, other symptoms may appear, including for example irritability, aggression, amnesia, confusion and disorientation.
Stay tuned for further discussion of TBI in coming days. For a Free Consultation with a top-rated Chicago brain injury lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us today at (312) 527-4500.