Tag Archives: brain and spine injuries

What is a Traumatic Brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of such an injury may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. A TBI can result in short or long-term problems with independent function.

Medical professionals say that, like burns, spinal cord injuries and other types of severe injuries, TBIs are catastrophic in nature but differ from other injuries in that they can upset a person’s life on many levels. Not only is there the underlying physical injury, but TBIs result in psychological, social and even spiritual issues.

TBI affects the basis of who we are — our ability to think, to communicate, and to connect with other people. For approximately 85 percent of people with TBI, those problems eventually resolve, but the remaining 15 percent have lingering effects and problems. If you’re dealing with residual symptoms of a TBI, or if you’re caring for a loved one, it can help to understand more about the wide range of challenges that TBI can pose.

A mere tap on the head, and anything can go wrong. Light taps — mild TBI — can result in daily headaches, agitated moods, or periods of sleeplessness. Stronger jolts may cause you to forget your name, or make you think you’re someone different. When you tell someone you’re sad, you may unintentionally yell. A TBI can introduce a frustrating amount of confusion and uncertainty into your life.

If you have been involved in an accident that resulted in a TBI of spinal column injury, the injury and necessary treatment can be significant and confusing. What rights and benefits you may be entitled to can be equally confusing. You need the advice and counsel of an attorney that has experience with TBI and spinal injuries, is aggressive and not afraid to fight with the insurance company to secure everything you deserve. Dan Newlin & Partners are such attorneys. Call Dan Newlin & Partners for a free consultation and learn about the complex area of the law surrounding TBI and spine injuries. Insurance companies have attorneys whose job is to give you as little as possible to settle your injury claim. You need an attorney by your side to help you receive all you are entitled to compensate you for your medical bills, pain and suffering. Please call Dan Newlin & Partners right away at (407) 888-8000. You will be glad you did.

What causes TBI?

Recent studies have revealed that traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 45, with a TBI injury occurring every 15 seconds, causing 5 million Americans to suffer some form of TBI disability. Other than by organic, non-impact sources, brain injuries are caused by sudden traumas.

The human brain is the most complex component of the human body. Encased in the skull, the brain has, on the average, only a quarter inch of bone protecting it from all the dangers of our environment. Inside the skull, the brain is encased in three layers of fluid/tissue known as the meninges, whose purpose is to prevent the brain from excessive movement inside the skull. It is no wonder that the brain is so fragile and susceptible to injury. A foreign object striking the head can penetrate the thin protective layer of the skull causing internal injury and bleeding. A blow to the head from a blunt object can cause a hematoma and result in excessive pressure being exerted on the brain. Even a sudden, abrupt motion of the head, such as whiplash when someone is involved in a car crash, can cause the brain to shift position and bounce around within the skull resulting in significant injury.

The leading causes of TBI are falls (35.25), auto accidents (17.3%), struck by or against solid objects (16.5%), assaults (10%) and other unknown events (20%). Military personnel also have an additional risk of suffering TBI as a result of being exposed to explosive blasts.

Clearly, people with more active lifestyles logically are more susceptible to experiencing a TBI. Statistics show that males are more prone to being the victim of a TBI than females, with men being one and a half (1.5) times more likely to suffer a TBI than women.

Obviously, the more active a person is and the frequency that a person engages in high risk activities, the greater the likelihood that they will suffer a TBI. Sports activities such as football, bungee jumping and parachuting places a person at higher risk of sustaining a TBI than other activities.

The highest age ranges for people to suffer a TBI are from birth to four (4) years of age and fifteen to nineteen, with African-Americans experiencing the highest rate of death as a result of TBI.

If you have been involved in an accident that resulted in a TBI or spinal column injury, the injury and necessary treatment can be extensive and complicated. What rights and benefits you may be entitled to can be equally confusing. You need the advice and counsel of an attorney that has experience with TBI and spinal injuries, is aggressive and not afraid to fight with the insurance company to secure everything you deserve. Dan Newlin & Partners are such attorneys. Call Dan Newlin & Partners for a free consultation and learn about the complex area of the law surrounding TBI and spine injuries. Insurance companies have attorneys whose job is to give you as little as possible to settle your injury claim. You need an attorney by your side to help you receive all the compensation you are entitled to for your medical bills, pain and suffering. Do not hesitate. Please call Dan Newlin & Partners right away at (407) 888-8000.

Are there different types of TBI?

Other than by organic, non-traumatic causes, brain injuries are caused by sudden traumas. Every brain injury is different, but there are two basic types: open head injuries and closed head injuries.

Open head TBIs are graphic and gory. The origin of the injury could be a bullet wound, knife penetration, a baseball bat impact, or a high-speed collision, the outcome is usually bloody and extreme. The femoral artery, one of the largest arteries in the body, constantly provides blood to the brain and head. Stretched tightly over the skull, the scalp tends to bleeds profusely if it is cut. If the skull is cracked or pierced, fragments of bone can get lodged in the brain. Since the brain is comprised of layers of soft, permeable tissue, it is difficult, sometimes impossible, to extract broken bone fragment or foreign objects that may become lodged in the tissue. For these reasons, brain surgery is very risky and extremely complicated.

In a closed head injury, although nothing actually penetrates the skull, the damage that results is often every bit as severe as an open head injury, sometimes even more so. Since the skull is not broken one may assume closed head injuries produce less severe injuries. That is an incorrect assumption. In closed head injury, pressure builds up and damages brain tissue. If you fracture the skull, you may let off excess pressure thus saving the brain from further damage.

During a closed head injury, a sudden, direct force, such as the impact from a baseball bat or striking a steering wheel, may be applied against the skull (Direct Impact, or Coup). That force causes the skull to come in direct contact with the brain. The same impact may cause the head to “snap back and forth” causing the brain to strike the skull on the opposite side of the initial impact (Secondary Impact, or Contrecoup). Other causes of Secondary Impact could be the result of whiplash or striking ones head against a wall. It is not uncommon that there could be both a Coup and Contrecoup injury from a single impact.

The most common type of closed head injury is a concussion — a strong blow from an external force. If a person’s head is whipped around, a small tearing effect called shearing occurs throughout the brain, resulting in a diffuse axonal injury. Axons are the hair-like extensions of nerve cells that transmit messages, so in a diffuse axonal injury, the messages either get mixed up, or they don’t come through at all. The three primary injuries that result from a closed head injury are Bruising (bleeding), Tearing and Swelling.

BRUISING

If a person is driving a car at 55 miles per hour and strikes another car traveling at a similar speed, the person’s brain goes from 55 miles per hour to zero in less than a second. The soft tissue of the brain, due to inertia, continues to travel at a high rate of speed, slamming against the hard bone of the skull. The brain tissue is compressed and distorted against the skull and that force may cause blood vessels to tear. If blood vessels tear, they will release blood into areas of the brain in a rapid and erratic way.

Why does bleeding in the brain present such a concern to medical professionals? The greatest concern is that there is only so much space in the skull and there is no room for this extra blood. The skull is unable to expand to accommodate the extra blood because it is hard and brittle. As a result, the blood exerts pressure on everything inside the skull, including soft, pliable brain tissue. Brain tissue is soft and delicate and can easily stop functioning properly or may even die off. In the event there is any bleeding in the brain, the pressure will make critical areas of the brain cease functioning. Any areas that control important bodily functions, such as breathing or heart rate could be impacted, and a potentially fatal condition may develop within hours of the accident. It is not uncommon for people that have sustained a head injury from a car accident to exhibit no negative effects immediately after the accident. In less than an hour, they may begin to become more and more confused and eventually lapse into a coma. That is the primary reason why Emergency Medical Technicians at the scene of the accident advocate people going to a hospital following a car accident.

TEARING

In a car accident, the brain may be propelled forward, then snapped backward. In this forward/backward motion, the brain can be torn. The brain can also be torn by the effects of “energy”. If you take a block of ice and hit it with a hammer (assuming you don’t completely shatter the ice), you will see little cracks in the ice. Energy from the hammer has been transferred to the ice, producing the web-like cracks. Tearing in the brain is very serious. Tearing in the brain “cuts” the wires that make the brain work.

One of the problems with tearing is that it happens on a microscopic level (the brain has about 100 billion of these “wires”). This tearing may not show up on typical medical tests. Devices that take pictures of the brain will not see these small tears. Two common ways of viewing the brain are with a CT Scan (using X-rays) and an MRI (using magnetic fields) to create pictures of the brain. Both of these techniques are very good at seeing blood and tumors in the brain, but they are not good with tears (which are very small). In a number of medical studies with people who have head injuries, only 10 to 15 percent had “positive” CT Scans or MRI findings.

SWELLING

If a heavy object is dropped on your toes, your foot will turn “black and blue” where the heavy object landed due to blood leaking under the skin. Your foot does something else—it swells up. As a defense mechanism, your body knows your foot has been injured and sends blood to heal the injured toes. If your brain is struck your body does the same thing. The problem is, there is no extra room for the blood in your skull and the pressure begins to build up. This pressure pushes against the brain and damages cells in the brain. Excessive pressure can stop important components that control breathing or the heart rate. This may necessitate a doctor installing a intra-cranial pressure monitor or ICP to let off the excess pressure and return the brain’s pressure to a less dangerous level.
If you have been involved in an accident that resulted in a TBI or spinal column injury, the injury and necessary treatment can be overwhelming. The rights and benefits you may be entitled to can be equally unclear. You need the advice and counsel of an attorney that has experience with TBI and spinal injuries, is aggressive and not afraid to fight with the insurance company to secure everything you deserve. Dan Newlin & Partners are such attorneys. Call Dan Newlin & Partners for a free consultation and learn about the complex area of the law surrounding TBI and spine injuries. Insurance companies have attorneys whose job it is to give you as little as possible to settle your injury claim. You need an attorney by your side to help you receive all the compensation you are entitled to for your medical bills, pain and suffering. Please call Dan Newlin & Partners right away at (407) 888-8000. You will be glad you did.

Are there any signs of TBI that I can look out for?

If you suspect you, or someone you know, may have suffered a brain injury as a result of a car accident or other trauma, no self test can replace the examination of a qualified medical professional. If you had a TBI, your ability to objectively recognize symptoms may be significantly compromised. Having said that, below are some signs that a head injury may have occurred.

Do you suffer headaches more frequently that you did before your injury? If so, do you have pain in your temples and/or forehead? Do you have pain that originates in the back of the head, and does it migrate to the forehead? Do you ever experience sharp pains (like being stabbed) in the head which may last from several seconds to several minutes?

Does your memory seem like is worse since your injury? Do you often forget what people have said to you 15 or 30 minutes before? Do people tell you that they have to ask you the same question multiple times? Do you have a hard time remembering things that you have just read?

Since your accident or injury, do you have a hard time choosing the right words to say when speaking to people? Do you have a hard time understanding what people say to you? Are simple mathematical computations more difficult for you to perform?

Do you get fatigued, either mentally or physically, more easily? Does that fatigue increase the more you try to think or are in highly emotional situations? Are you angered more easily or become more irritated since your accident? Do you become depressed or cry more often?

Can you sleep throughout the entire night or do you wake up frequently during the night and early morning? Do you often wake up early in the morning and are unable to get back to sleep?

When you are in noisy or crowded places, do you feel more anxious or overwhelmed than you did before your injury? Are you more impulsive or make poor decisions than you did before?

Have you had a loss of sense of smell, blurred vision, and increased sensitivity to light or sounds?

Can you focus on what you are doing and concentrate as well as you did in the past? Do you find yourself easily distracted and/or have a difficult time organizing and completing tasks?

If you find you are exhibiting any of the symptoms above, or just don’t feel you are the same, after being involved in an auto accident, slip and fall or other traumatic injury, consult the assistance of a qualified doctor, who can refer you to a neurologist, neurosurgeon or other specialist. Proper, and timely, diagnosis and treatment is critical to a rapid recovery.

If you have been involved in an accident that resulted in a TBI of spinal column injury, the injury and necessary treatment can be significant and confusing. What rights and benefits you may be entitled to can be equally confusing. You need the advice and counsel of an attorney that has experience with TBI and spinal injuries, is aggressive and not afraid to fight with the insurance company to secure everything you deserve. Dan Newlin & Partners are such attorneys. Call Dan Newlin & Partners for a free consultation and learn about the complex area of the law surrounding TBI and spine injuries. Insurance companies have attorneys whose job is to give you as little as possible to settle your injury claim. You need an attorney by your side to help you receive all you are entitled to compensate you for your medical bills, pain and suffering. Please call Dan Newlin & Partners right away at (407) 888-8000. You will be glad you did.

I was involved in a car accident and my back hurts. Could I have a spine injury?

A simple answer to this question is yes. The spine is a complex combination of bone, tissue and nerves located in your back that runs from the base of your skull to your tailbone. It is comprised of three major component groups, 1) the vertebrae, which is the hard, bony part most commonly recognized as the skeleton, 2) intervetebrial discs, or soft tissue, which acts as “shock absorbers” cushioning the vertebrae when you twist and turn, and 3) nerves, which run the length of the spine, and are often referred to as the “spinal cord”. While it is not uncommon to sustain an injury to the vertebrae and spinal cord, the majority of auto accidents result in a soft tissue, or disc injury.

There are three main areas of the spine that contain discs: cervical (neck), thoracic (ribcage) and lumbar (lower back). A disc is like a jelly donut, made up of a hard, outer shell, and a thick, gelatin like center. The outer shell is called the annulus fibrosis. It is similar to a radial tire, having vertical, horizontal and diagonal bands that provide support and structure for the soft interior. The gel-like substance inside the annulus fibrosis is called the nucleus pulpolpus. The gel-like center allows for flexibility, to a certain degree, when the spine (vertebrae) flexes and moves. When the movement is too extreme, such as when the body is subjected to the sudden trauma of an auto accident, the gel may thrust into motion by the force of impact and exert undue force on the annulus fibrosis causing a the shell of the annulus fibrosis to bulge, tear or herniate (rupture, or leak). The resulting bulge, tear or herniation may result in pressure being exerted on a nerve in the spinal cord which may result in pain, numbness or tingling sensations. Since the nerve ending may run a great distance from the location of the actual bulge, tear or herniation, the resulting sensation may appear in an area other that the actual disc injury. Surprisingly, you may have a disc injury in the cervical area and feel little, or no pain in the neck, but feel shooting pain down the arm or in the fingers. Similarly, an injury to the lumbar region can cause sensations down the leg and as far as the toes. Although disc and vertebrae damage can contribute to spinal cord dysfunction, broken bones and herniations are not necessarily the cause of spinal cord injuries, and usually have a greater chance for recovery through therapy, or in more extreme injuries, surgery.

If you have been involved in an accident that resulted in a TBI of spinal column injury, the injury and necessary treatment can be significant and confusing. What rights and benefits you may be entitled to can be equally confusing. You need the advice and counsel of an attorney that has experience with TBI and spinal injuries, is aggressive and not afraid to fight with the insurance company to secure everything you deserve. Dan Newlin & Partners are such attorneys. Call Dan Newlin & Partners for a free consultation and learn about the complex area of the law surrounding TBI and spine injuries. Insurance companies have attorneys whose job is to give you as little as possible to settle your injury claim. You need an attorney by your side to help you receive all you are entitled to compensate you for your medical bills, pain and suffering. Please call Dan Newlin & Partners right away at (407) 888-8000. You will be glad you did.