Traumatic Brain Injury Cases

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1.4 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI) annually. The majority of TBIs are classified as “mild” brain injuries. This term, however, is misleading, as the effects of these injuries are rarely “mild”.

Many people mistakenly believe that you must lose consciousness in order to suffer a brain injury, but this is not true. Also, a recent mild TBI, and even a more significant brain injury, may not always show up on a CT scan or MRI. Additionally, contrary to what many people think, it does not require a hit on the head to sustain a TBI. For example, a person in a serious rear-end collision might suffer a TBI without striking his head on anything, where the violent whip like motion of the neck causes the brain to collide with the front, back or side of the inside of the skull. This can result in significant TBI even though the head itself struck nothing and there was no outward sign of head trauma.

We have found over the years that we have been representing the seriously injured and their families, that TBIs are frequently misdiagnosed when the patients first come to the emergency room, HMO or their private physician’s offices. Sadly, these patients are often misled into believing that their symptoms are “nothing to worry about” and that they do not need to seek further medical treatment. The result is often a delay of agonizing weeks or months before the patient decides to be seen again. If the patient is fortunate, the TBI is properly diagnosed at that time but often it takes multiple return visits before the TBI is finally diagnosed.

The common causes of traumatic brain injury include:

• Car and truck accidents
• Motorcycle accidents
• Bicycle accidents
• Pedestrian accidents
• Falls
• Acts of violence
• Sports injuries and other recreational injuries

The Symptoms Can Be Difficult to Detect

The symptoms of TBI can be hard to diagnose and may include some or all of the following:

• Dizziness
• Disorientation, confusion
• Headaches
• Short-term memory loss
• Difficulty concentrating
• Agitation, aggression
• Changes in behavior patterns
• Mood swings
• Changes in appetite
• Changes in ability to smell, taste, or hear
• Difficulty sleeping
• Depression
• Fatigue

These symptoms also may not be present immediately following the injury and may not develop until weeks or months after the initial traumatic event. Additionally, people suffering from TBI may have difficulty describing their symptoms clearly to the treating physician or may not even realize that the symptoms they are suffering may be related to the trauma they have experienced.

At times, patients with TBI are reluctant to admit that they are suffering from mental impairment and may not be forthcoming about the full-spectrum of their symptoms, because they are embarrassed or concerned that the symptoms represent some disease process rather than a . What this means is that the physician who sees this patient must take a detailed and thorough history. While a complete history is a simple but essential diagnostic tool whose importance is taught in medical school, it is unfortunately often ignored in the emergency room, where diagnosis is frequently based solely on superficial exams – or skipped in the HMO clinic or office setting because of the limited time the physician is expected to spend in the work-up and evaluation of patients.

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