Vehicle accidents, including those involving tractor-trailer trucks, are a major cause of traumatic brain injury or TBI. Brain injuries can occur as a result of a direct blow or impact during a wreck, or simply because of the rapid acceleration or deceleration typical in such an event. The severity of a brain injury resulting from a truck accident is a product of the type, intensity and duration of the force or forces at work in that accident.
Injuries to the brain are separated into three general classifications: mild, moderate, and severe. Brain injuries are also grouped according to whether they are confined to a specific area (focal) or spread over a wider area (diffuse).
Different brain injuries will present different symptoms depending primarily upon whether the injury is focal or diffuse in nature and on which part of the brain is affected. Symptoms vary widely and include anything from headache, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting, to convulsions, lack of motor coordination, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, unusual or bad taste in the mouth, and fatigue. Brain injuries can also cause cognitive and emotional symptoms including mood swings, confusion, loss of memory, and difficulty with concentration or thought process.
One aspect of brain injuries that makes them especially difficult to address both medically and legally is the fact that brain trauma can cause what is known as secondary injury – damage to the brain that manifests after the initial event. Though most secondary brain injury occurs within the 12-24 hour period immediately following the initial injury, some may occur days or even weeks afterward.
Secondary brain injuries occur when the initial trauma has caused physiological disruptions that affect the blood-brain barrier through the release of chemical agents that may upset the delicate balance of brain chemistry. Some secondary brain injuries interfere with blood flow resulting in insufficient oxygen in the brain. Others can cause cerebral edema – swelling of the brain – and raise the intracranial pressure, which when too high can be devastating, and even fatal.
In cases where a client has suffered a traumatic brain injury, we consult with the members of the medical team, including neurologists, neuropsychologists, and neuropsychiatrists, to recommend that state-of-the-art diagnostic techniques and equipment are utilized. Recent advances in medical technology including the development and use of newer, more powerful 64 slice CT scans and functional MRI for neuroimaging, can not only improve diagnostic accuracy, but also guide care and greatly improve outcomes for victims of traumatic brain injury.
As you would probably expect, the prognosis for victims of TBI worsens with the severity of injury. Most cases are mild and readily respond to intervention ranging from minimal first aid to the use of prescription medications. However, all traumatic brain injuries must be treated seriously as all have the potential to cause serious and long-lasting disability.
Victims of TBI who stabilize in the hospital may be transferred to a subacute nursing unit or an independent rehabilitation hospital after which it is often possible for patient needs to be met in outpatient care. Loved ones of more seriously injured victims, particularly those who are unable to function independently, will need to explore options that include supported living facilities or group homes.
Whatever path of care is necessary, finding the appropriate treatment facility is essential. Many facilities are ill-equipped to handle victims of TBI. We’re there to listen and support our clients in whatever choice of facility they make.
One of our greatest strengths as a firm is our expertise in dealing with the many legal and medical ramifications of injuries sustained in trucking accidents. As you may know all too well, an accident with a big rig often involves serious injuries and even fatalities. We aren’t doctors, but we consult with the medical professionals who treat our clients. It is crucial that we thoroughly understand the diagnosis and prognosis of each injury, the optimal approach to treatment, and the extent of recovery that can be hoped for so that we can convey essential understanding of medical complexities to jurors who need it in order to render a fair verdict.