Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is damage caused by a jolt or blow to the head. The most common causes can be motorcycle or car accidents, falls, assaults, and sports injuries. While minor crashes can result in concussions, a severe injury can cause permanent brain damage.
If you are a resident of Georgia and suffered a traumatic brain injury, this article is for you. Not only are you going to learn what TBI is, but also various aspects of treatment and how you can apply for a personal injury claim in Georgia.
What is a TBI?
A jolt or blow to the head from a penetrating or blunt trauma can cause a traumatic brain injury. The primary damage occurs at the time of impact and affects a specific lobe or the entire brain. Sometimes it may even fracture your skull; however, you can still suffer a TBI without any damage to the skull.
As your brain takes an impact of a blow or a jolt, it crashes back and forth within the skull cavity. This can cause tearing, bruising, and bleeding of nerve fibers. You may feel confused right after the accident and not remember exactly what happened or anything at all. Other symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision, or losing consciousness.
Even if you feel fine, TBI may show its harmful effects a little later, as the brain goes through a delayed trauma. It swells and pushes against the walls of the skull, reducing the oxygen-rich blood flow. This is what you call a secondary injury and the major cause of brain damage.
While moderate TBI may last for hours, days or months, a more severe brain injury can last for years and cause long-term brain damage that may last your entire life.
It is imperative that you seek good medical care if you have suffered ANY type of TBI regardless of how mild you may think it is.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
While mild brain injuries include confusion, memory loss, disorientation, loss of consciousness, and headaches, here are three of the major brain injuries that can cause severe and permanent damage.
Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI)
DAI is stretching and shearing of your nerve cells at a cellular level. The cause is the sudden back and forth movement of the brain within the skull cavity. This tears and damages your nerve axons responsible for connecting nerve cells throughout your brain.
This damages your brain’s normal transmission pathways and results in substantial damage to your wakefulness and how your brain perceives things.
Traumatic Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (TSAH)
Traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage is your brain bleeding into the space surrounding it. This space contains cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This fluid acts as a floating cushion and protects your brain from hitting the skull too hard within the skull cavity.
Severe trauma to the head may result in small arteries within the brain bleeding into the CSF. The blood spreads on the surface of your brain, causing severe damage.
Rupturing of a blood vessel may cause a blood clot known as a hematoma. It can be a small clot or a large one that compresses your brain. The effects of a severe hematoma vary depending on the area where the clot has formed.
A clot between your brain’s dura lining and skull is known as an epidural hematoma. On the other hand, a clot between the brain and dura itself is what you call a subdural hematoma. If a clot forms inside your brain’s tissues, this is known as an intra-cerebral hematoma. While minor hematoma heals as your body absorbs them with time, severe hematoma may require clot removal surgery.
What is the Treatment Procedure?
Your doctor may prescribe bed rest and medication to recover from mild traumatic brain injury. However, moderate to severe TBI requires intensive care at a hospital. In the case of any swelling and bleeding, surgery might be the only solution to save your life.
If surgery is not an urgent need, you will definitely require consistent monitoring under the Neuroscience intensive care unit (NSICU). The doctors will measure and try to control the brain swelling and reduce chances of any permanent damage.
Intensive care is critically important for life-threatening trauma to the brain as it can result in comatose or paralysis. The neurologists monitor the patient and wake them up every hour to assess the brain functions and mental status.
Intracranial Pressure (ICP) monitoring
This requires placing a catheter through a small hole in the patient’s skull and positioning it inside the ventricle to measure the pressure within the head. This will enable the NSICU team to act quickly in case the pressure gets critically high.
Brain Oxygen Monitor (Licox)
The NSICU team places a catheter through a hole in the skull and position it within brain tissue. This catheter measures the brain’s temperature and oxygen level. The team will make adjustments to oxygen to ensure maximum oxygen levels reach the brain through the blood. They use a newer monitor with the Licox to evaluate the brain’s blood flow; this is known as Hemedex.
Ventilator and Feeding Tube
In a life-threatening situation, the patient may require a ventilator’s support to breathe and stay alive. In this case, the person may not be able to eat and require a nasal-gastric insertion of a feeding tube to supply sufficient nutrition.
Whether it is a skull fracture, removal of large clots, or repairing bleeding vessels, all these conditions can cause extreme and high intracranial pressure. This may require one or more surgical procedures to help save a patient’s life.
This surgery involves cutting a hole and cutting a bone flap out of the patient’s skull to repair the damage, including a skull fracture, blood clot removal, or blood vessel repair. Once the surgery completes, they put the bone flap back on and secure it back with screws and plates in your skull.
This surgery becomes inevitable when a patient’s life is in danger because of extremely high intracranial pressure. The surgeons remove a large section of the skull, allowing the brain to swell and expand. The next step is to place a biological tissue on top of the patient’s exposed brain, close the skin and freeze the bone flap in a freezer.
It may take 1 to 3 months for the swelling to heal, and surgeons will put the bone flap back and secure it with screws and plates. This is known as cranioplasty.
This surgery involves inserting a breathing tube directly into your windpipe through a small incision. This is the tube that connects to the ventilator to help keep the patient alive.
PEG – Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastronomy Tube
This surgery involves inserting a camera into the stomach through a patient’s throat to ensure correct PEG tube placement.
Making a Personal Injury Claim in Georgia
While mild traumatic brain injury may not require continuous medical attention–though it will require treatment–severe TBI will require intensive care, hospitalization, even surgeries, and after-care. Such an injury may leave you or a loved one with lifelong brain damage. Imagine the physical, emotional, and financial suffering.
So, if you or a loved one has suffered or is suffering from the effects of a TBI due to someone else’s fault, you may be eligible for a personal injury claim. Our team at Tobin Injury Law can help.
Remember–a TBI, regardless of how “small” it is, remains a TBI. And therefore you need to see a neurologist.