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Typically, people think of brain injuries as being caused by trauma. However, brain injuries can also be the result of a non-traumatic incident. In general, brain injuries are classified into two categories: traumatic brain injuries and acquired brain injuries.
Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries
By definition, a traumatic brain injury is a disruption of brain function resulting from a blow, bump, jolt, or penetration to the head.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2006 and 2010 in the United States, the majority of traumatic brain injuries were caused by four different events: falls, motor vehicle accidents, assault, or struck by/against an object.
Falls — Falls accounted for 40 percent of all TBIs between 2006 and 2010. Children and the elderly population are especially susceptible to injuries from a fall. Fifty-five percent of TBIs in children age 0 to 14 were caused by falls, and 81 percent of TBIs in people over the age of 64 were caused by falls.
Accidental hit by object — Unintentional blunt trauma accounted for 15.5 percent of traumatic brain injuries. In children under the age of 15, blunt trauma was the cause of TBI in 24 percent of cases. Oftentimes these injuries occur on the job, such as at a construction site or oilfield.
Motor vehicle crashes — Motor vehicle crashes accounted for 14 percent of traumatic brain injuries. However, approximately one out of four TBI-related deaths between 2006 and 2010 were the result of an auto accident.
Assault — Approximately 10 percent of TBIs were caused by assault, and about 75 percent of these injuries occurred in people between the age of 15 and 44.
Children participating in sports and other recreational activities are susceptible to traumatic brain injuries, especially concussions. According to the CDC, an estimated 329,290 children were diagnosed and treated in an emergency department for a concussion or TBI caused by a sports or recreation-related injury in 2012. Emergency department visits for these injuries have more than doubled among children under the age of 19 between 2001 and 2012.
An acquired brain injury is typically caused by a severe medical event, medical condition or disease, near drowning event, tumors, hazardous chemicals, or medical errors rather than a physical strike. An estimated 795,000 people suffer from an acquired brain injury each year in the United States.
Common causes of acquired brain injuries include:
Errors in medical treatment
Medical conditions or diseases
Near drowning event
Severe medical events (stroke, cardiac arrest)
Anoxic or hypoxic brain injuries can be caused by a disruption in the brain due to an insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain. An anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain does not receive any oxygen. A hypoxic brain injury occurs when the brain receives some, but not enough for the brain to fully function. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, brain cells can be damaged and lost permanently. The extent and severity of the damage depends on how long the oxygen deprivation lasts.
Hypoxic and anoxic brain injuries can be caused by a crushed windpipe, inhalation of smoke or other harmful chemicals, electrocution, anesthesia complications, or problems with a mechanical ventilator. These types of brain injuries can be the result of improper medical care or medical malpractice, such as not receiving enough oxygen during surgery or a procedure.
Symptoms of Brain Injuries
Knowing the warning signs of a traumatic brain injury can improve the recovery process and increase the chance of positive outcomes. Some symptoms are easily recognizable, quick to find, and can resolve within days. However, more severe TBIs are much more difficult to notice and can cause symptoms that last for weeks, months, or years.
The following symptoms may indicate a severe traumatic brain injury and may require immediate medical attention:
Severe headache that gets worse and does not resolve
Weakness and numbness
Dizziness or loss of vision
Loss of consciousness or confusion
One pupil larger than the other (black part of the eye)
Vomiting or nausea
Seizures and convulsions
Although non-traumatic or acquired brain injuries share many symptoms with TBIs, other symptoms may include:
Disruption of decision-making tasks
Difficulty forming words or using the correct word
Lack of coordination
Weakness in the extremities
In severe cases, brain injuries can result in coma, a permanent vegetative state, or even death.
Contact an Experienced Brain Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, contact Thomas J. Henry. Our injury attorneys have experience handling cases involving clients with brain injuries of all types and levels of severity. Brain injuries are one of the most devastating injuries a person can sustain. These injuries can cause financial hardships in addition to the physical, mental, and emotional pain associated with the injury. You deserve to be compensated for your medical bills, future and past lost wages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish that you have been put through.
Call our experienced injury attorneys today for a free legal consultation. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve.