Accident Related Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries

I recently attended The 30th Annual Conference on Legal Issues in Brain Injury in New Orleans which was sponsored by the North American Brain Injury Society (www.nabis.org). This was a three day conference and the presenters were nationally recognized neurologists, neuropsychologists, brain injury rehabilitation experts, and life care planners that specialize in brain injury.

There are very few attorneys who have the knowledge to properly litigate and document accident cases involving brain injuries. This was my second brain injury conference and the technology to prove the nature and extent of brain injuries is improving. Therefore, if someone has sustained an accident related brain injury, it is crucial to select an attorney who is knowledgeable and sincerely interested in proving the brain injury to the insurance company and their lawyers so that fair and adequate compensation can be obtained.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury, although it often is not treated as such. Many times a person will be sent for a CT Scan or MRI of the brain after a car accident or a fall and be told it was normal and that they are fine. However, these tests do not show shearing injuries or damage to the white matter in the brain and tests such as DTI-MRI (Diffuse Tensor Imaging MRI) or fMRI (functional MRI) and others are necessary. Neuropsychological testing can also help to pinpoint the area of the brain affected.

A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) mostly affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain (even without contact to the skull), and interferes with the connections and pathways between these two lobes. The frontal lobes control our socialization, experience and attention. The temporal lobes control our emotions. If their is damage to the orbital lobes, there may be vision or sensation disturbances, as well as headaches.

Children are more at risk for TBI from rotation/whipping/rocking of their head due to the size of their head compared to the rest of their body and their lack of strong neck muscles. TBI in children is typically progressive and changes over time. Also, in a car accident, the head acceleration for a woman is 50% greater than for a man and they are at a greater risk for a TBI. This means that a 10mph car accident is like a 20mph car accident for a woman.

Here is a list of symptoms often the result of a TBI, many of which people may not associate with their head injury:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Distorted/blurry vision, slower reading, difficulty keeping a gaze, difficulty tracking a target, eye strain, loss of pieces of vision
  • Altered sense of smell, loss of smell, always a bad smell
  • Altered sense of taste, food doesn't taste the same, things taste metallic
  • Sensory loss, clumsier, drop things, slower, death grip, using helper hand to guide other hand
  • Memory issues, short term memory problems, forgetfulness, using notes as reminders, forget where parked car, leave stove on, leave refrigerator open, forget names of people/places you know, forget how to get somewhere you always went, difficulty finding a word
  • Emotional issues, moody, irritable, loss of patience, people saying you are "different", anxiety, PTSD (clenching teeth, jaw pain, sleep disturbances and anxiety are all signs of PTSD.

There is too much information to share in one article about concussions and brain injuries. However, if you have any of the above symptoms after being involved in an accident it is important to speak to a personal injury attorney that understands brain injuries, what you are going through and is committed to guiding you through the legal process.

If you have any questions about an accident where a concussion, post concussion syndrome and traumatic brain injury is involved, feel free to call me to discuss how my knowledge can help you.