Guide to Traumatic Brain Injuries

Head injuries and how to treat them

Traumatic brain injuries can affect more than the victim – they can affect the whole family. Read more to see what kind of injuries can occur – from concussions to whiplash – how they happen and what you should do when neurologic injuries arise.

Brain injuries affect more than just the victim – they affect the lives of family members and other close relationships as well.

Major adjustments have to be made within a household after a traumatic brain injury occurs, and the victim often feels pressured or compelled to recover faster than he or she is able. Relearning tasks like brushing hair or walking can be monumental at first, and this can require an entire family’s attention.

Recovery from a traumatic brain injury takes time, support and knowledge. This guide is a primer to walk you through what can cause a TBI and various treatments that show promise.

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What is traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury is an injury to the head from an external force that results in cognitive dysfunction.

Take a car accident, for instance: If a car is traveling at 45 miles per hour and hits another vehicle, it will go from 45 miles per hour to zero in an instant.

This means that the brain, which is floating in cerebral fluid, will be propelled against the hard bone of the skull with the force of this impact because of whiplash; brain tissue will "squish" against the interior of the skull, blood vessels will burst and blood will stream into areas of the brain where it's not supposed to be.

Post-Accident Journal Form
Sample accident journal/diary to help you document the effect on your daily life
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This is a problem because there's so little room in the brain to begin with. There isn't a place for this extra blood to go, so the brain will swell and the pressure will make parts of it stop working. Some areas of the brain may even begin to die, and this necrotic brain tissue can cause seizures, strokes or even death.

What types of injuries may occur?

No brain injury is the same. Most of them are caused when the following happens to brain tissue:

  • Bruising
  • Tearing
  • Twisting
  • Bleeding
Traumatic brain injuries are caused by bruising, tearing, twisting + bleeding brain tissue. Tweet this

However, patients may develop more than one type of injury, and further injuries can develop after the initial injury depending on where blood goes. Patients might experience specific injuries like:

  • Subdural hematoma: a blood clot that forms between the dura (tough outermost membrane, or the top lining of the brain) and the brain.
  • Epidural hematoma: a blood clot that forms between the dura (the top lining of the brain) and the skull.
  • Anoxic brain injury: an injury caused by lack of oxygen to the brain.
  • Diffuse axonal injury: damage to the axons (pathways) that connect different areas of the brain.
  • Intracerebral hemorrhage: a blood clot in the middle of the brain, which is usually quite difficult to remove.

Following a brain injury, doctors will attempt to stop the intracranial bleeding, control the increasing pressure, maintain blood and oxygen flow to the brain, and remove any clots. Then they will decide if any further surgery is necessary, as well as medications or medical equipment such as a ventricular drain (which would help control pressure inside the skull).

Traumatic brain injuries and legal cases

If you were in a car accident that caused a traumatic brain injury, you should absolutely speak with a personal injury attorney. Here is Enjuris' directory of attorneys if you haven't found one yet.

These are very complicated injuries with ramifications that can last a lifetime, and its effects can touch upon an entire family. An experienced attorney can help you unthread the complicated case and take on the burden of the legal aspects while you focus on getting back to normal. The health side of this is a full-time job, so adding the legal case on top of that can be overwhelming.

Speaking of jobs – if you were injured while on the job, then talk with a workers' compensation attorney. Being hurt "on the job" can mean while you were working or while you were completing a job-related function.

The minutiae of this can be complicated (for instance, were you delivering a package, but then decided to run a personal errand for five minutes? Lawyers could fight about the details of that for a few years), so speaking with an attorney can help.

Workers' compensation benefits will assist you tremendously while recovering from a traumatic brain injury, especially if you are unable to work.

Brain injury resources / family resources

Your family and friends will be remarkable sources of strength for you during this difficult time.

However, having a network of people who are going through the same struggles as you are will be a comfort that you will definitely need. People who "get it" are hard to come by, and finding them can be hard. Here is a list of resources that have helped others with their recovery from a traumatic brain injury.

We wish you the best of luck in your recovery!

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