Life with a Traumatic Brain Injury

Friday, August 4, 2017

Life with a Traumatic Brain Injury

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

traumatic brain injury (TBI), ranges from mild to severe. However, what most people do not realize is that these types of injuries can last a victim for the rest of their lives – even if they have a mild concussion.

Most people, including injured victims, are unaware of the true scope of a TBI injury. TBIs are quite common, but are often missed during an initial examination. In emergency situations, doctors are more focused on saving the patient’s life rather than discovering a TBI.

Before technology was around to monitor intracranial pressure, the rate of death from a TBI was dramatic in the emergency room setting. While the technology has increased and doctors can better predict TBI complications, people with a TBI could suffer for months, years, or the rest of their lives.

The symptoms and complications that stem from this very serious injury will impact a person emotionally, socially, romantically, and even professionally. Some injuries are so severe that the patient never returns to work. Some cannot spend time with their children, and other times they cannot take care of themselves.

Regardless, when a TBI is caused by someone’s negligence, victims do have options. Speaking with a personal injury attorney is the first step toward ensuring you and your loved ones receive compensation for your TBI and the long-term consequences of that injury.

The Emotional Impact of a TBI

After a TBI, the brain, depending on where the injury occurred, could change a person’s emotions dramatically. Just some issues that affect the emotional aspect include:

  • Difficulty controlling mood swings and emotional outbursts. The brain helps keep a person from becoming too intense or experiencing emotional outbursts. However, when someone suffers from a TBI, they may notice that they are on a constant emotional roller coaster. They could be happy, sad, upset, depressed, angry, and continue cycling throughout the day.
  • Severe anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of fear or nervousness that is unnecessary for the situation, and very common for those with a TBI. Some will feel anxious without knowing why, while others may suffer from a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Severe to mild depression. TBI victims could feel sad or depressed, especially after they realize that they cannot do the things they did before their injury. However, those feelings could eventually escalate into serious depression. For some, it could be so bad that they contemplate suicide.
  • Irritability and temper outbursts. Even a person who was normally calm and never upset could find themselves unable to control their irritability and temper. They may have injuries to the brain that affect the controls of their emotional output, or they may be feeling isolated, tired, and in pain.

How Family and Friends Can Help

Family members must be understanding about the fact that their loved one is going through a physical, emotional, and mental injury. They should not take the outbursts or emotional changes personally, and should make every attempt to refrain from arguing or provoking outbursts.

Thinking and Cognitive Impacts of a TBI

A traumatic brain injury does not just impact a person’s emotions, but can also affect their ability to think and process what they have learned. Cognitive problems are quite common after a TBI. The human brain needs cognition to think rationally, choose, understand, and even retain information. A TBI can lead to difficulty with:

  • Controlling impulses
  • Being patient
  • Reasoning
  • Problem-solving
  • Attention and concentration
  • Planning
  • Memory
  • Learning new things
  • Speech

When a person has a TBI, they may find that they cannot focus or pay attention. If they need to take on more than one task, they could become easily frustrated. Also, a person may be easily distracted and have a limited attention span after their injury. Long conversations or sitting still for long periods of time become difficult, and finishing a project or multi-tasking are often impossible.

Sleep Problems and TBIs

Another long-term complication that stems from a TBI is sleep issues. When the body sleeps, the brain recharges. Proper sleep is what allows the body to enter sleep rhythm cycles and refresh itself. When someone has a TBI, they require extra sleep so that their brain can properly heal. Even a mild traumatic brain injury, however, can disrupt a person’s sleep.

The brain may have a difficult time using the natural chemicals it needs to stay asleep or fall asleep. Also, a TBI victim may have difficulty with their sleep rhythms, leading to unhealthy sleep patterns.

Dreaming, breathing, and leg movements while asleep are also affected by a TBI, which means restless sleep. Typically, as the TBI heals, a person will start to resume normal sleep patterns. However, serious TBIs could result in permanent difficulties with sleep, and the victim may require special medications to fall or stay asleep.

The Physical Effects of a TBI

TBIs are not just emotional, mental, and sleep disruptors. In fact, a TBI has numerous physical symptoms that can dramatically impact a person’s quality of life.

Chronic Headaches and Migraines

A common physical complication from TBIs is migraines and severe headaches. These may include cluster headaches, chronic migraines, and unexplained headaches.

Loss of Smell

Depending on where the trauma occurred, a person could suffer from anosmia, which is a loss of smell. While some may think that a loss of smell is not a serious complication, it can be, especially if that person’s career relies on their sense of taste and smell (like a chef).

Changes in Taste

In addition to a loss of smell, the receptors in the brain that control taste buds on the tongue may no longer receive signals from the brain, which will impact a person’s ability to taste and enjoy foods. They may experience a metallic taste or odd tastes to everything they eat. Other times food tastes extremely bland.

Vision Complications

Another physical complication a person might have from a TBI is changes in their vision. They may have blurred vision or lose their vision entirely. Depth perception can be altered. Colors may become difficult to differentiate. This can not only affect their daily life, but their ability to drive or even work.

Balance and Coordination Issues

A very common complication from a TBI, and one that could last for the rest of the victim’s life, is balance and coordination issues. A person may have difficulty standing straight, and they may be unable to adjust their posture or remain standing without assistance. Frequent falls, trips, and slips could be an indication that balance has been affected by the TBI.

The Therapy and Treatments Required for a TBI Victim

Treatments for a mild to severe TBI will vary, but some victims could be in therapy, require medications, and need assistance for the rest of their lives.

While the extent of therapy varies, some procedures and rehabilitation a victim might require include:

  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy – This treatment involves locking into a capsule and receiving 100 percent oxygen in a chamber that is pressurized. Some TBI victims receive HBOT treatments to help restore some function and allow brain tissues to recover quicker.
  • Speech Language Therapy – If the ability to speak is lost after a TBI, victims may need to meet with a speech-language pathologist to relearn how to speak.
  • Neuropsychology Treatments – A neuropsychologist helps a person understand how the chemical changes in the brain affect their physical, social, romantic, and emotional actions.
  • Cognitive Rehabilitation – Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy (CRT), helps patients cope with cognitive complications following a TBI. It may help improve retention and memory issues, and return the cognitive system to its original, or close to its original, state.
  • Physical Therapy – Physical therapists help TBI victims learn how to regain movement and strengthen the physical abilities that still work. They can also help relieve any physical pain a person may experience from other injuries associated with the TBI.
  • Occupational Therapy – Occupational therapy helps people with TBIs handle everyday life. They can learn how to make lists, create priorities, and improve their personal relationships.
  • Vocational Therapy – If a TBI is severe enough that it impacts a person’s ability to work, they may require vocational rehabilitation. These services help the victim regain certain skills or learn new skills that allow them to return to work and contribute to their financial well-being.

The Costs of Living with a TBI are Extensive

Even a mild TBI can result in long-term costs. Therefore, victims and their families may find that a TBI results in a dramatic drain of their financial resources. If the victim cannot work, they may suffer even more financially. These costs can quickly add up to the hundreds of thousands, to millions in medical costs.

Speak with an Attorney for Assistance with Your TBI Case

If you or a loved one has suffered from a serious TBI, and that TBI was the direct result of someone’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Speak with an attorney today from Malman Law regarding your injury case.

Our attorneys understand the complexities, cost, and suffering you and your loved ones are enduring because of your TBI. Let our team help you receive the compensation you deserve to cover medical costs, lost wages, and more.

Speak with us for a free consultation 24 hour per day, seven days per week at (888) 625-6265. You can also request your consultation online.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by President and Founder, Steven J. Malman who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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