What are brain injury symptoms?

Anyone who has suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), knows how debilitating and life altering it can be. Few people realize, however,  just how common these injuries are. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traumatic brain injuries are responsible for 275,000 hospitalizations and 52,000 deaths every year. The most common cause is, of course, a car wreck.

A traumatic brain injury can result from a crash even if there was no direct impact to the head. Just violently whipping the head back and forth in a crash can cause a brain injury.  This is what happens to babies diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome.  The same thing can happen to an adult during a crash.  (Think of the brain as Jello in a Tupperware bowl being shaken back and forth.)

Whether a brain injury is mild or sever depends upon the amount of damage to brain tissue.  But, even a so-called “mild” TBI can be very problematic, as it may affect mood, emotions, personality and the like.

Clinically speaking, a mild TBI is “a traumatically induced physiological disruption of brain function, as manifested by at least one of the following: 1. any period of loss of consciousness; 2. any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the accident; 3. any alteration in the mental state at the time of the accident  (e.g. feeling dazed disoriented, or confused); and 4. focal neurological deficit(s) that may or may not be transient; but where the severity of the injury does not exceed the following: i) loss of consciousness (LOC) of approximately 30 minutes or less; ii) after 30 minutes, an initial Glosgow Coma Scale (CGS) of 13‑15; and iii)  post‑traumatic amnesia (PTA) not greater than 24 hours” (per the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine).

A mild TBI is most likely not going to be pictured on a CT scan or an MRI image.  This is because the injury is microscopic.  Clinically speaking, it is described like this: “The primary neuropathology of TBI is diffuse axonal injury (DAI) caused by shearing forces generated in the brain by sudden deceleration.  These shearing forces disrupt fragile structures running in the long axis of the brain, primarily axons and small vessels.  Axonal injury causes swelling and often lysis of the axon with wallerian degeneration.  The role of release of excitatory neurotransmitters from the synapses of damaged axons as a cause of downstream cell loss in uncertain.  Vascular injury can disrupt small veins, producing  petechial hemorrhages or local or focal edema.  The primary distribution of injury seems to be parasagital deep white matter spreading from cortex to brainstem.  This pattern may be responsible for  the eventual predominance of attentional and “executive” deficits in even the mildly impaired.  …  It is the inertial force transmitted by sudden deceleration that causes DAI; more force means more injury” (from NEUROLOGY 1995; 45:1253‑1260).

What this means is that a mild TBI is generally going to be diagnosed some time after the crash from the before-and-after differences in the person hurt in the crash. And, the best evidence is the anecdotal reports of persons who have spent time with the injured person both before and after the crash. To begin the process of finding out if your loved one has suffered a mild TBI, you can use report like the following (Symptom Summary), to be filled out by close family and friends is critical in diagnosing a mild brain injury.  Show this evidence to the experienced personal injury lawyer and he or she will be able to help you find help. Yes, cognitive therapy is available and does help persons suffering a mild TBI.

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