A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most serious—and most expensive—injuries a person can sustain. Any brain injury can have long-term consequences, but treatment can go a long way toward helping improve health and cognitive function after the brain is injured in an accident.
There’s no one established type of treatment for a TBI. That’s because there are different types of brain injuries, and TBI treatment depends on the type of TBI a person sustains.
Understanding the different types of brain injuries can help you understand why there are different treatment options—but remember that treatment doesn’t always bring the same results.
The brain is a highly complicated organ, and every person who sustains a TBI is injured differently. Two brain injuries that appear similar can have vastly different treatment outcomes, depending on how the injuries impact the physical structure and functional abilities of an individual’s brain. Reach out to a traumatic brain injury lawyer.
What Counts as a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury is any type of head injury that impacts brain function. TBIs can range from mild to deadly. A TBI can occur in countless ways, but some of the leading causes behind traumatic brain injuries include car accidents, falls, physical assaults, and gunshot wounds.
Doctors categorize traumatic brain injuries in different ways—a TBI can be open or closed, depending on whether the skull was penetrated. They can also be complicated or uncomplicated, depending on whether brain imaging scans like a CT or MRI show complications like bleeding in the brain.
How doctors treat a traumatic brain injury depends on the TBI grade or the severity of the injury. Medical professionals treating a TBI will first grade the injury as either mild, moderate, or severe.
A mild TBI, also known as a concussion, is the most common form of traumatic brain injury. Most concussions don’t involve loss of consciousness, but some individuals can experience lasting cognitive issues, especially if they don’t receive immediate medical attention.
Although a concussion is the least severe form of TBI, it’s still a serious injury. Failing to seek medical attention puts you at risk of assuming the injury is not as bad as it initially seemed.
Following medical advice improves the likelihood of a full recovery and helps mitigate the chance of developing concussion complications like personality changes, depression, or early-onset dementia.
A moderate traumatic brain injury is diagnosed when the head injury results in a loss of consciousness that lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to less than 24 hours. These TBIs can cause severe complications that bring significant long-term implications for brain function and overall health.
A severe TBI is a brain injury accompanied by loss of consciousness for a day or longer. Outcomes for a severe TBI can range widely. While a full recovery is possible for some patients, it often takes years of treatment and therapy. Brain function may never fully recover and symptoms may last a lifetime.
Some patients never regain consciousness, remaining in a coma for years.
For those patients who awaken, outcomes depend on the trauma the brain sustained.
It’s common for severe TBI outcomes to include:
- Severe disability
- Inability to return to work
- Constant help with daily activities
- Reduced life expectancy
- Need for ongoing medical care
- Increased risk of other medical issues
A severe TBI diagnosis also significantly increases an individual’s chances of seizures, infections, and pneumonia.
TBI Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosing a traumatic brain injury is typically done through medical imaging and answering a healthcare provider’s questions. Since a TBI occurs from a blow to the head, a doctor will first identify whether a patient has been in an accident involving head trauma.
If the patient is conscious, a doctor will identify whether the patient is experiencing any common symptoms of TBI, like headaches, dizziness, or cognitive changes.
Finally, a patient will undergo testing to identify any TBI complications.
The patient might undergo:
- Imaging tests like an MRI or CT scan
- Neurological exam
- Blood test for proteins that indicate TBI
During diagnosis, medical professionals check for several symptoms that can indicate the seriousness of the injury and the needed treatment.
A doctor diagnosing a patient with a TBI might check for:
- Hearing issues
- Vision issues
- Strength and mobility of neck muscles
- Memory, concentration, and problem-solving abilities
- Neurological responses
The type of TBI a patient has sustained will be diagnosed based on the extent of obvious injuries or symptoms, the length of loss of consciousness, and the testing results. TBI treatment options depend on the outcome of this diagnostic process.
Mild TBI Treatment Options
Medical professionals usually recommend rest and sleep as the most effective treatment for a mild TBI. Individuals healing from a concussion are advised to avoid strenuous physical activity and self-monitor for symptoms like dizziness, pain, or cognitive issues.
Doctors typically recommend that patients avoid using over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or naproxen while healing from a mild TBI. These medications can increase the risk of brain bleed and can mask a patient’s pain level.
Certain activities and stimuli can cause concussion symptoms to worsen.
Some of these include:
- Staring at screens like TVs, smartphones, and computers
- Loud music
- Bright lights
- Activities that require concentrated focus, like reading
- Any physical activity, including walking or standing up
With sufficient rest and refraining from activities that can worsen concussion symptoms, a mild TBI should heal within a few weeks of the injury. A patient healing from a mild TBI should carefully follow a doctor’s recommendations and report worsening symptoms right away.
Concussion symptoms that grow worse over time are a serious sign that the injury may be more severe than a medical provider’s initial diagnosis indicated.
Treatment for Moderate and Serious Traumatic Brain Injuries
Treatment for a moderate or serious TBI depends heavily on the type and extent of injuries. For those with less severe injuries, the primary treatment recommendation is rest.
It’s also common for patients to undergo therapy. TBI therapy can involve:
- Counseling to assist with stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotional effects
- Physical therapy to assist with restoring strength and a full range of motion
- Speech therapy for patients whose speaking ability is impacted
- Occupational therapy for patients needing help to perform daily activities
- Cognitive therapy to assist with brain functions like recall and critical thinking
How long a patient needs to participate in therapy is highly individual. Every TBI affects its victim differently. Some patients might make a speedy recovery, while others may need to work with a therapist for years.
When a TBI is more severe, a patient may need to undergo emergency surgery for:
- Brain swelling (intracranial pressure)
- Brain bleeding (intracranial hemorrhage)
- Skull fracture
- Blood clots (hematomas)
In the most severe cases, the survivor of a severe brain injury may permanently remain in a coma or may experience severe disability as a result of their injuries. In cases like these, family members may need to arrange for long-term care either at home or in an assisted living facility.
The High Cost of a Traumatic Brain Injury
How a TBI Lawyer Determines Brain Injury Case Value
A TBI attorney is a type of personal injury lawyer. If you or a close relative has sustained a brain injury, you can begin the process of seeking compensation by attending a free consultation with a TBI lawyer.
At your meeting, the lawyer will review your case and identify whether any other party can be held liable for the injury and its associated costs.
For example, if the injury was sustained in a car accident, a TBI attorney will work to prove that the other driver’s negligence was the reason for the crash and injury. Once a personal injury lawyer proves negligence, the other party is legally responsible for the injury costs.
Compensation in a TBI Claim
A lawyer will then build a case for compensation by identifying all the economic and non-economic forms of damage that have come because of the brain injury.
A lawyer can help your family gain compensation for financial damages such as:
- Medical bills
- Ambulance bills
- Therapist costs
- Medical device costs
- Assistive care costs
- Loss of wages and benefits
A lawyer can also help you gain compensation for non-financial forms of damage, like emotional anguish, loss of companionship, or diminished quality of life.
Since a traumatic brain injury can have a devastating impact on a family’s emotional and financial well-being, cases involving severe TBI often bring significant compensation that routinely reaches six or seven figures.
How a TBI Attorney Fights for Compensation
Once a TBI lawyer has built a case for negligence and identified your case value, they’ll enter into negotiations on your behalf with the insurance company of the person responsible for the injury.
The timeframe and success of insurance negotiations often depend on multiple factors, including the skill and experience of your personal injury lawyer and the willingness of the insurance company to negotiate.
Serious injuries, in particular, can pose a challenge when it comes to identifying a target compensation goal; medical professionals might not immediately be able to identify a patient’s long-term prognosis or the extent to which future procedures will be necessary.
Giving a lawyer enough time to work with the doctors, insurance companies, and other parties is a key element of successfully gaining compensation for a traumatic brain injury.
Brain Injury Compensation and Legal Time Limits
A lawyer may need to file a lawsuit initiating legal action if the insurance company doesn’t make a fair settlement offer. How long a lawyer has to take this step is limited by a legal time limit called the statute of limitations.
Every state sets its own limit on the amount of time you have to file in court over a personal injury caused by negligence—for example, in Florida, the time limit is four years after the accident.
It takes time for a lawyer to investigate and build a case, and insurance negotiations can be lengthy affairs, especially when they involve severe injuries and large compensation.
A traumatic brain injury is a tragic and life-altering event. It can be hard to think clearly or know what to do next in the aftermath of a TBI. Calling a personal injury lawyer is the safest way to ensure a legal professional is working to protect your future and your finances as you navigate the difficult adjustment to life after a traumatic brain injury.