Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury
For decades, the personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Allen & Allen have worked with brain injured clients who have been hurt through the negligence of others, in car or truck accidents, in falls, as the result of product defects, or under a myriad of other circumstances. Our attorneys are accustomed to seeing the many and varied manifestations of traumatic brain injury.
No, we are not physicians, and we do not diagnose brain injuries. However, we try to remain alert to the possibility that a client may have sustained an unrecognized brain injury in addition to his more obvious broken leg, lacerated spleen, or shoulder and neck strain.
Symptoms of traumatic brain injury can range from the subtle, easy to overlook, to the obvious, impossible to ignore. Patients, and even health care providers, often fail to recognize the more subtle symptoms of brain injury, assuming they are either exaggerated or related to other medical conditions. Likewise, family members may notice a change in a relative’s behavior or listen to his seemingly random complaints, but conclude these signs are associated with problems at work or just “getting older”.
The truth is that traumatic brain injuries may be revealed through a wide variety of physical and psychological symptoms. Sometimes it takes a high tech medical device like a MRI or a CT scan to pinpoint or document such an injury. However, the most important thing for the injured person and his family to do is pay attention to all symptoms and act immediately to seek medical help when they suggest a possible brain injury.
Typical signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries (like a concussion) may include some of the following:
- Unconsciousness, usually for a brief period at the time of injury
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Inability to concentrate
- Memory problems
- Amnesia for events occurring just before or after an injury
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Blurred vision, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), or a bad taste in the mouth
It’s easier to recognize and diagnose persons who have suffered moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries because many are hospitalized immediately after an injury and undergo extensive testing. Moreover, their symptoms are likely to be more obvious; they may include:
- Seizures or convulsions
- Continued vomiting or nausea
- Persistent headaches
- Combativeness and/or agitation
- Loss of coordination
- Slurring of speech
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eye
- Profound confusion
- Weakness or numbness in arms or legs
- An inability to awaken from sleep
Always keep in mind that some signs of serious traumatic brain injury come on gradually, weeks or months after an initial injury. For example, an elderly person may fall and hit his head, but the signs and symptoms of his developing subdural hematoma may not become obvious for many weeks. When they do, the patient and/or his family must act quickly to get appropriate, potentially lifesaving medical care.
Children may be harder to diagnose because they are too young to communicate effectively. For this reason, parents should look for changes in a child’s normal behavior such as:
- Altered sleep patterns
- Deteriorating academic performance at school
- Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities
- Listless behavior and unusual crankiness
- Refusal to eat
Even a mild brain injury can have adverse effects on a person’s daily activities, employment, and enjoyment of life. For this reason, the sooner a diagnosis is made and treatment begins, the sooner a brain injured person can move towards recovery.