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Understanding brain injuries

Recovering from a brain injury is difficult physically, mentally and financially. The long-term effects of head trauma can cause major disruptions and setbacks in one's life. Understanding the facts about brain injuries will help you make more sense of your situation and take appropriate steps to get your life back on track.

Brain injuries explained

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur from both closed head injuries and open head injuries. The damage can be either hidden or noticeable due to a penetration through the skull. TBIs cause two main types of damage:

  • Primary brain damage: Skull facture, blood clots and bleeding
  • Secondary brain damage: Seizures, increased blood pressure and brain swelling

Any secondary brain damage from your injury may not be fully known because it can evolve over time.

Common causes and risks for seniors

TBIs typically occur due to several reasons, including falls, motor vehicle accidents, unintentional blunt trauma, surgical errors and violent assaults. Over two-thirds of TBIs in adults 65 years or older are due to falls. Falling is the leading cause of death related to TBI for the same age group.

Consequences of brain injury

Brain injuries can cause sensory, physical, cognitive-communication, behavioral and swallowing complications. These deficits may significantly affect the injured person's independence. No two brain injuries are alike; therefore, the associated problems vary depending on injury location and extent of the damage. Possible complications may include:

  • Sensory deficits: More or less sensitivity to sensations, inability to identify one's location and altered sensations
  • Physical problems: Seizures, dizziness, vomiting, dyspraxia/apraxia and reduced muscle strength
  • Cognitive impairments: Changes in problem-solving, reasoning, awareness, attention to detail, memory recall and executive functioning
  • Communication deficits: Difficulty producing or understanding speech
  • Behavioral changes: Increased anxiety, agitation, mood swings and depression
  • Swallowing deficits: Difficulty swallowing due to un-coordination or weakness of mouth and throat muscles

Long-term care

Impaired patients can undergo treatment to help them regain their autonomy. Early treatment usually focuses on helping the patient respond to sensory stimulation, promoting family interaction, reducing confusion and improving social skills. Therapy may require vocational rehabilitation for help getting back into school or the workforce.

Regaining your independence after a brain injury can be a complicated, stressful and costly process. The consequences and implications vary widely depending on your specific case. No one should have to deal with the results of a life-altering brain injury alone. If you have suffered head trauma due to someone else's negligence, you may want to seek compensation from the responsible party. Discuss your options with a brain injury attorney.

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