What should I do after a traumatic brain injury?
The first thing you should do after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is to consider seeking medical treatment, even if you don’t think the injury is serious. Your injury may be more serious than you realize, and you will also want to get medical documentation in case you need it for evidence in court.
Before discussing what to do after sustaining a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, it is important to know a little about what a TBI is, how common they are, how they are caused, and who are at the highest risk of sustaining this type of injury.
Traumatic brain injuries can range from mild to devastating. Some examples of mild TBI include low-force trauma to the head or a slight concussion. Examples of serious TBI include penetration of the skull and bleeding.
TBI is most commonly caused by bumps, blows, or jolts to the head, leading to a disruption of the normal structure and function of the brain. While a mild TBI may result in nothing more than a headache, severe TBIs can result in extended periods of unconsciousness or memory loss.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were almost 3 million TBI-related hospital visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States in 2014. There were 800,000 children diagnosed with TBI that year. In the same year, over 55,000 TBIs were fatal.
Falls were found to be a leading cause of TBIs, accounting for roughly half of all TBI-related emergency cases. Falls were also found to disproportionately affect children and older adults. Blunt-force trauma is the second leading cause of TBI-related hospital visits.
In terms of risk factors, falls are a leading cause of TBI-related deaths in people aged 75 and over. Intentional self-harm is a leading cause of TBI-related death for individuals in the 45-65 age range. Vehicle accidents are a leading cause of TBI-related death for people in the 15-35 age range.
How the Severity of the Injury Affects Patients
Let’s take a look at the differences between mild and severe TBI. Understanding the differences can help you understand why your doctor has prescribed certain treatments.
Mild Brain Injuries
Mild injuries generally require no special treatment apart from rest and over-the-counter painkillers for treating symptoms such as headaches. However, even mild injuries should be monitored for persistent, worsening, or new symptoms.
If your traumatic brain injury symptoms worsen, you should see a doctor. Your physician may outline a schedule for the patient to return to work, school, or participation in physical activities.
Urgent medical care is generally required for moderate to severe TBIs. This is because you may need to be immobilized to prevent further damage and injury to the head or other body parts. The medical staff will also need to have a closer look at any other injuries that may need to be addressed.
Medical staff will also make sure to prevent secondary damage that can result from inflammation, bleeding, or inadequate oxygen reaching the brain. In many cases, TBI may be one of several issues you will have to cope with after an accident.
What to Do in the Event of a TBI
The treatment for a TBI will be based on the severity of the injury sustained.TBIs can lead to rapid deterioration of the health of the patient if treatment is not quickly administered, especially for moderate and serious TBIs.
To help doctors quickly assess cases as they happen, a 15-point test known as the Glasgow Coma Scale is used to determine the severity of a TBI by gauging a person’s ability to follow simple directions, move their eyes and limbs, and speak coherently. Lower scores mean more severe injuries.
If you believe your traumatic brain injury or your loved one’s injury was caused by negligence, you may want to consider filing a lawsuit to recover your damages. You may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit in cases of fatal TBI. You can follow this link for additional information.
If you or a loved one have been injured or have suffered a traumatic brain injury after an illness or an act of violence, you are not alone. The Family Caregiver Alliance offers resources and information for victims of TBI and the families who care for them.