Common Questions After a Brain Injury

Why should I choose D’Amore Personal Injury Law to handle my brain or spinal cord injury case?


Are Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries Common?

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 1.7million traumatic brain injuries occur each year in the United States. It is a major cause of death, especially among young adults, and lifelong disability is common in those who survive. It is estimated that in the USA, around 5.3 million people are living with a brain injury-related disability. Brain injury commonly leads to impaired attention, inability to form visuospatial associations and poor executive function. Up 70% of brain injury survivors develop depression. Many survivors also exhibit increased impulsivity, poor decision-making, and impulsive–aggressive behavior. Such impairments in self-regulatory behaviors can affect interpersonal relationships and contribute to the poor community, social and vocational integration, and may lead to long-term placement in an institutional setting. In the United States, monitoring of brain injury causes is conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The annual incidence of spinal cord injury (SCI) in the United States is approximately 17,000 new cases each year. The number of people in the U.S. living with a spinal cord injury is estimated to be almost 300,000. The average age at injury has increased from 29 years during the 1970s to 42 years currently. Males account for approximately 80% of new SCI cases.

Vehicle crashes are currently the leading cause of injury, followed by falls, acts of violence (primarily gunshot wounds), and sports/recreation activities. Medical and surgical errors are also known causes of spinal cord injuries.

Incomplete tetraplegia (four affected limbs) is currently the most frequent neurological category. Incomplete paraplegia (two affected limbs), complete paraplegia, and complete tetraplegia follow respectively.

What causes brain injuries?

Brain injuries are caused by concussions and other traumatic head forces that cause damage to the brain (e.g., car crash, gunshot wound to the head, assaults, falls). Brain injuries can also be caused by subconcussive head impacts or hits to the head that don’t cause full-blown concussions. Furthermore, brain injuries can be caused by other health issues like strokes, bleeding in the brain, lack of oxygen to the brain, brain infections, fluid buildup in the brain, toxic exposure and poisoning, and brain tumors.

Can brain injuries cause mental illness?

Yes, brain injury can cause mental illness, depending on the area(s) of the brain injured. Some injuries (e.g., a gunshot) are confined to a focal area whereas in other injuries (e.g., excessive shaking), the damage to the brain diffuses throughout the brain. Research has found that those with TBI are more likely to develop schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder.

Are TBIs permanent?

TBIs can result in permanent brain damage as a full recovery is not guaranteed and largely depends on the severity of the brain injury, the nature of the injury, and the treatment received among other factors. Mild TBIs are defined as loss of consciousness and/or confusion and disorientation for less than 30 minutes while severe TBIs are defined as loss of consciousness for more than 30 minutes and memory loss after the injury or penetrating skull injury for longer than 24 hours. Some TBIs may not be permanent but they may be long lasting.

How are TBIs diagnosed?

  • Mild TBIs may not be diagnosed until a person begins to struggle with tasks or social interactions previously done without problems.
  • Doctors may assess the initial severity of the brain injury by using the Glasgow Coma Scale: higher the score, the less severe the injury.
  • CAT scan, MRI, SPECT, and/or PET scan may be performed to bring out evidence and location of brain injury.
  • Neuropsychologist may perform a cognitive evaluation with formal neuropsychological testing.
  • Evaluations by physical, occupational, and speech therapists may be done to determine specific deficits of an individual.

What are the long term effects of a TBI?

The long term effects of TBI are physical, behavioral, mood, and cognitive impairments, including headaches, aggression, irritability, anxiety, depression, rapid mood changes, impulse control problems, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, confusion, impaired judgment, memory loss, dementia, and eventually an early death.

Difference Between a TBI and a Concussion

  • All concussions are TBIs but not all TBIs are concussions.
  • TBIs can be moderate or severe. A concussion is a mild or moderate TBI.
  • TBIS are divided into two categories: open and closed. Open head injuries are when the skull is broken or removed, allowing an outside force to act directly on the brain. Closed head injuries happen through an intact skull where the external force never comes into direct contact with brain matter.
  • Concussion is the most well known type of closed brain injury. Concussions do not result in immediate danger of death but can have nasty long lasting effects. Concussions are usually difficult to diagnose.
  • Severe TBIs can be life endangering and can lead to a coma. Severe TBIs can also result in long-term disabilities and permanent brain damages.

What is a CTE brain injury?

A chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) brain injury is a progressive degenerative disease that afflicts the brain of people who have suffered repeated concussions or other traumatic brain injuries, e.g., athletes and military service members that have impacted the cranium over a period of years or decades. The brain gradually deteriorates and loses mass over time. A protein called Tau forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells. Symptoms may not appear until years after the onset of head impacts. Symptoms may include aggression, depression, paranoia, and impulse control problems. As the disease progresses, some experience problems with thinking and memory, such as confusion, impaired judgment, memory loss, and dementia.

What is Acquired Brain Injury?

Acquired Brain Injury is “damage to the brain, which occurs after birth and is not related to a congenital or degenerative disease. These impairments may be temporary or permanent and cause partial or functional disability or psychosocial maladjustment” (World Health Organization, 1996).

How to Deal with the Brain Injury of a Spouse

  1. Participate in family counseling with a counselor who specializes in traumatic brain injuries. The counseling will help each family member to identify behaviors that contribute or exacerbate the problem behaviors of your injured spouse, learn new strategies for your spouse and your family to use when your spouse experiences volatile emotions and anger, and practice those strategies repeatedly until they become second nature to your family.
  2. Create a safety plan for when your spouse’s behaviors or emotions become dangerous. The plan should include a safe place for each family member to go when your spouse’s anger gets out of control.

Chances of Recovery from Brain Damage

  • Every person and every brain injury is unique. Generally speaking, the more severe the brain damage, the less likely the person will fully recover. Some of the factors that affect recovery are: severity of injury, part of brain damaged, patient’s personality and attitude toward recovery, participation in official and unofficial rehab programs, and support from patient’s family and friends.
  • Brain has a limited ability to heal itself by repairing or growing new brain cells after injury. Most of the recovery is the brain rewiring itself and finding other pathways to bypass the broken channels.

Who receive’s money after a successful brain or spinal cord injury lawsuit?

In brain and spinal cord injury cases, much of the money will be for the person who has suffered the injury. While family members often suffer right along with their injured loved one, the law does not usually allow them to be financially compensated. If the injured person is a child, or not mentally capable of handling their own affairs, the law requires the money be placed in a protected trust and only used for the injured person’s direct benefit.

This can be difficult for many parents and family members to accept. We often hear things like “why would anyone think I would steal from my baby?” Or, “I have other children and family members who have been impacted by the added time and money it has cost to care for our injured loved one. Why can’t we use the money to help our whole family?”

These are legitimate and totally understandable questions. Dealing with these issues is never easy. That is why we continue to work with our clients even after the case is successfully resolved. We work with trust managers, trust lawyers, and asset managers who are experts in this area of law, and who understand that our clients need to be cared for as a family unit. While each case is different, our goals are always the same: (1) ensure that the injured victim will be able to afford the care and services he/she will need in the future; (2) ensure the injured victim will be safe and secure even after his/her family can no longer care for him/her; (3) ensure that the family is satisfied with the plan that has been put into place.

Do I have a case?

The answer to this question is rarely easy. The first step is contacting us to discuss the facts and circumstances of your injury. We never charge a fee for this discussion. In fact, we don’t charge our clients any fees unless we are able to secure a recovery for them.

How much will it cost to file a brain or spinal cord injury case?

Nothing. There is no cost to you unless we win. If the case is successfully resolved, the costs of the lawsuit are repaid from the recovery.