Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injuries in the News

Stories involving Traumatic Brain Injuries have been in the news recently. NBA player Chandler Parsons was involved in a 3-car accident involving an alleged drunk driver after leaving practice with the Atlanta Hawks last week. According to CBS News, Parsons suffered “devastating injuries” in the accident, including a Traumatic Brain Injury that could potentially end Parsons’ career as a professional athlete.

Moreover, you may have heard President Trump discuss the US service people that had complained of “headaches” after Iran’s attack on two Iraqi airbases housing U.S. forces. Trump somewhat downplayed the gravity of the injuries, tweeting “all is well” and “so far, so good.” However, the Deputy Commander of the American-led operation in Iraq indicated that the Pentagon was having the affected service members undergo medical examinations to determine if they sustained Traumatic Brain Injuries.

What exactly is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) involves sudden damage to the brain caused by a blow or jolt to the head. Car or motorcycle accidents, falls, sports injuries, and assaults are common causes of TBI. The extent of a Traumatic Brain Injury may range from a mild concussion, to severe, permanent brain damage. A TBI may cause symptoms such as headaches, neck pain, nausea, ringing in the ears, dizziness and/or fatigue. Patients with more severe TBIs may also experience repeated vomiting, nausea, convulsions, seizures, inability to awaken from sleep, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the arms and/or legs, and dilated pupils.

TBI – The Silent Epidemic

The effects of a TBI may last only a few days or may haunt an individual for the remainder of his or her life. TBI may cause impairment in thought, memory, movement, sensation (visual or hearing), or emotional functioning. Symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and changes in personality are not uncommon. These issues may not only impact the sufferer of TBI, but may also affect his or her friends and family. As such effects are not normally outwardly visible, TBI is often referred to as a “Silent Epidemic.”

Are TBIs Preventable?

There are some common sense ways to reduce the risk of sustaining a Traumatic Brain Injury. For example, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.gov) recommend the following:

  1. Buckle Up Every Ride – Wear a seat belt every time you drive – or ride – in a motor vehicle.
  2. Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  3. Wear a helmet, or appropriate headgear, when you or your children:
    • Ride a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter, or use an all-terrain vehicle;
    • Play a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, or boxing;
    • Use in-line skates or ride a skateboard;
    • Bat and run bases in baseball or softball;
    • Ride a horse; or
    • Ski or snowboard.
  1. Prevent Older Adult Falls
    • Talk to your doctor to evaluate your risk of falling, and discuss specific ways that you can reduce your risk of falling.
      • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines to see if any might make you dizzy or sleepy. This should include prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, herbal supplements, and vitamins.
    • Have your eyes checked at least once a year, and be sure to update your eyeglasses if needed.
    • Perform strength and balance exercises to make your legs stronger and improve your balance.
    • Make your home safer.
  1. Make living and play areas safer for children
    • Install window guards to keep young children from falling out of open windows.
    • Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs when young children are around.
    • Make sure your child’s playground has soft material under it, such as hardwood mulch or sand.

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The CDC Pilot Program

In the fall of 2018, the CDC began pilot testing a survey regarding TBI in children and adults. The results of this survey will help refine plans for a National Concussion Surveillance System (NCSS). NCSS will be dedicated to improving the prevention, care and recovery efforts underway at the CDC and among groups invested in helping those affected by TBI.

Scott Bonebrake practices personal injury law in Media, PA, and has been a licensed attorney for nearly 25 years. Please feel free to contact Scott if you have any legal questions, including those regarding TBI as a result of an accident or fall. You can reach Scott at 610-892-7700, or at sbonebrake@noelandbonebrake.com.