Symptoms of Brain Injuries
Symptoms Related to Damaged Lobes
The brain is a complex organ that the medical community is only now beginning to understand. Because of its extraordinary complexity, the degree and consequences of brain injury are measured by a patient’s physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral symptoms. A seemingly light knock to the head may cause irreversible, debilitating damage in one person, whereas another patient may make a greater than expected recovery with the assistance of quality medical treatment and rehabilitation. For this reason, fully grasping the symptoms you experience is crucial to your health recovery and to your legal case.
Searcy Denney was founded 45 years ago with the sole purpose of helping injury victims in Florida. Our Florida brain injury lawyers have substantial experience representing brain injury clients. We are very familiar with the diagnostic tests and symptoms, as well as what the results mean to our clients condition.
Diagnosing Brain Injuries
Diagnosis for TBI consists of determining the severity and location of damage to the brain and resulting symptoms and disabilities. To do so, doctors may prescribe these common TBI analyses and tests:
- Physical examination of the patient and understanding of the underlying accident
- Examination of physical, speech, visual, movement and occupational impairments
- CAT scan, MRI and PET scan that produce images of the brain
- Cognitive and neuropsychological examination by trained specialists
- Glasgow Coma Scale, Ranchos Los Amigos Scale, Loss of Consciousness, Posttraumatic Amnesia, Disability Rating Scale, Functional Independence Measure and other diagnostic scaling systems
Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)
The GCS encompasses several diagnostic tests medical professionals use to measure brain damage, including motor response, verbal response and eye opening. In each category, the doctor records a number with 1 indicating no response no sounds and no eye opening respectively.
- Vegetative state, persistent vegetative state and brain death measure 3 or less points out of a possible 15.
- Coma or severe disability, in which there is no response and no voluntary activity, equals 3 to 8 points out of a possible 15.
- A patient with a score of 9 to 12 has a moderate disability that may benefit from rehabilitation.
- A score of 13 to 15 (out of a possible 15) corresponds with mild brain damage.
Loss of Consciousness (LOC)
The longer a patient remains unconscious following a head injury, the more likely he or she sustained more serious brain damage, according to researchers. Loss of consciousness or mental status change equal to half an hour is considered mild, whereas between 30 minutes and six hours is moderate, and more than six hours is severe.
Posttraumatic Amnesia (PTA)
Posttraumatic amnesia is common after a head injury. Patients who sustain moderate to severe brain damage may never fully regain memory. However, patients with mild brain damage do typically recover memory over time. The PTA examination measures the time between the injury and when a patient begins to understand what is happening.
Disability Rating Scale (DRS)
The DRS is used to determine improvements or decline of function throughout TBI recovery. The lower the score, the less of a disability the head injury is at the time of assessment. A progressively declining score is a good sign that the patient is improving. Zero to one point indicates no to mild disability. By comparison, 22 to 29 points means the patient is in a vegetative or extreme vegetative state.
Functional Independence Measure (FIM)
The FIM offers another disability rating system that doctors use to assess disability resulting from TBI. However, on the FIM scale, a high score indicates milder disability, with seven showing complete independence and one the need for total assistance. A progressively escalating score is a positive sign for patient recovery.
Symptoms Related to Damaged Lobes
Each lobe of the brain performs a unique role in triggering individual functions of the body. Therefore, the location of the injury determines what functions are affected. For example:
- Frontal lobe injury can impair movement, memory, thinking and behavior.
- Parietal lobe injury can affect language and touch.
- Temporal lobe injury can impact learning, feelings and hearing.
- Occipital lobe injury may result in visual disturbances or loss of sight.
- Cerebellum injury can cause imbalance and incoordination.
- Brain stem injury can hinder breathing, heart rate and temperature and may result in brain death.
A blow to the front of the head may cause difference symptoms than a blow to the back of the head. Often, the brain is damaged in more than one lobe, which manifests in a wide range of symptoms and increases the overall severity of the injury.
Understanding the Severity of a Brain Injury
The symptoms of brain injury range from medically mild to severe. Severe brain injury typically causes irreversible, permanent disabilities, which may correspond to damage in multiple lobes of the brain. Although mild does not mean minor, patients often have a greater chance of full recovery over the long term. However, multiple minor concussions or concussions that occur in quick succession can ultimately increase the severity of the brain damage.
Mild Brain Damage
“Mild TBI” is somewhat of a misnomer. When referring to a traumatic brain injury, “mild” does not mean slight, nominal, moderate or insignificant. Every brain injury is serious. However, the symptoms of mild brain damage are less severe and, with good medical care, you can often recover from mild brain damage.
Searcy Denney focuses exclusively on personal injury recovery. During our 45 years in practice, our Florida brain injury lawyers have developed the resources and experience to effectively assist the victims of car crashes, violence, sports injuries, near drowning, falls or blows to the head.
Our Florida personal injury law firm can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to after a mild brain injury.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Mild Brain Injuries
Brain damage is not always immediately obvious. You may initially feel fine and develop symptoms days or weeks after your injury. In some cases, family members, friends and coworkers are the first to notice subtle changes in your memory, cognition, judgment and behavior – all signs that indicate brain damage. For this reason, mild brain injuries may initially be easy to miss without diagnostic tests, such as an MRI, a CAT scan, a PET scan and a professional cognitive and neuropsychological evaluation.
Because symptoms often do not immediately appear, our law firm recommends anyone who suspects a head injury seek immediate medical care. Only a doctor can accurately diagnose traumatic brain injury and determine the severity of the condition.
If these symptoms manifest after a blow to the head, a fall or other trauma, you may have suffered mild TBI:
- Temporary loss of consciousness (under 30 minutes)
- Poor attention span
- Blacking out
- Sensory disturbances
- Ringing in the ears
- Light, sound and smell sensitivity
- Lightheadedness and dizziness
- Behavior changes
- Amnesia or temporary memory problems
- Cognitive impairment
- Fatigue, sleepiness, exhaustion, or drowsiness
- Nausea and vomiting
Complications of Mild TBI
Fifteen percent of patients who sustain mild brain damage experience symptoms that last at least one year. These long-term symptoms may include several serious physical, cognitive and behavioral problems that greatly impair your independence, functionality, work performance, family relationships and enjoyment of life.
Complications may also arise as a result of mild TBI, including:
- Posttraumatic seizures
- Brain inflammation
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Long-term headaches
- Lingering memory impairment
- Lingering problems with focus and cognition
Repetitive trauma to the brain, such as is experienced by football players and boxers, may lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Searcy Denney considers these repercussions when calculating damages. Our legal team analyzes your scores on the posttraumatic amnesia (PTA) test, Disability Rating Scale (DRS), Functional Independence Measure (FIM) and other diagnostic tools to fully understand your injuries.
Severe Brain Damage
About 2.5 million people suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year. Of those, about 50,000 people die and 275,000 are hospitalized for serious injuries. The medical community refers to the most serious TBIs as severe brain damage. Survivors of severe brain damage often have lifetime disabilities, some which require constant assistive care.
Our Florida brain injury attorneys understand the heartbreak and strain that accompanies severe TBI. In many cases, the family becomes the voice of the victim who can no longer communicate, understand or function. We help you recover vital funds needed to care for your loved one and to bring the negligent parties to justice for injuring your family member.
Symptoms of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
The brain is an intricate organ and injuries to the brain can manifest in a variety of ways and degrees that impair cognition, memory, judgment, behavior, attention, senses, emotion and physical conditions. Common symptoms of severe TBI include confusion, dementia, seizures, long-term memory loss, headaches and motor skill impairment.
Your previously intelligent, kind, healthy, happy loved one may become childlike, aggressive, depressed and entirely reliant on you after their brain injury.
Altered Consciousness of TBI Victims
In the worst cases of traumatic brain injury, your loved one may have fallen into altered consciousness that renders him or her completely dependent upon caregivers 24 hours a day. Recovery may be slow and incomplete or impossible if your loved one is in a limited state, as described below.
- Coma may occur as a result of massive, widespread damage to the brain. A comatose patient is unresponsive and unaware to surroundings and stimulus, and may either recover consciousness or fall into a vegetative state.
- Minimally conscious state is severely altered consciousness with minimal level of awareness, from which a patient often may recover, but with lingering brain damage.
- Vegetative state may occur as a result of massive, widespread damage to the brain. While unaware of everything going on around them, the patient may make sounds, blink and reflexively respond to stimuli, often giving loved ones’ false hope as to the patient’s condition.
- Locked-in syndrome may occur as a result of damage to the brainstem and lower part of the brain. The condition leaves the patient awake and aware of his or her surroundings, but almost completely paralyzed and unable to move, speak or eat.
- Brain death is an irreversible condition in which all measurable brainstem and brain activity has ceased.
Additional permanent disabilities resulting from severe TBI may include:
- Memory loss
- Loss of movement and paralysis
- Partial or total blindness or deafness
- Extensive behavioral changes
- Substantial cognitive impairment
- Inability to understand language or to speak
Learn More About Symptoms of TBI and How Our Personal Injury Attorneys Can Assist You
For more information about TBI symptoms that affect your physical recovery and your legal claim, schedule a free consultation with Searcy Denney by calling (800) 780-8607 or contacting us online. Our Florida brain injury lawyers take your claim on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not bill you for lawyers’ fees and costs unless we are successful in recovering damages for you.