Brain damage often results in serious and lasting consequences. If you have suffered a brain injury, your quality of life can be severely impaired through mental and physical disability. If the injury was caused through the negligence of someone else, you deserve to be compensated – for the injury itself and the life-changing effects from it.
Sadly, brain injuries can occur in many different situations:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries refer to injuries where brain damage is caused by an external force. This could be through physical contact, blast waves, or forces causing a rapid ‘acceleration-deceleration’ motion to the head (such as whiplash). The term also includes the secondary effects caused by such trauma – symptoms such as swelling in the brain or oxygen deprivation to areas of brain tissue.
All traumatic brain injuries have the potential to cause catastrophic injuries.
Traumatic brain injuries are often categorised into open and closed injuries:
- Closed – This covers injuries where the skull remains intact but trauma is still caused to the brain. This could be from an impact to the head, which does not perforate the skull, or from sharp jolting movements which displace the brain. These forces can strain and tear nerve tissues, or damage blood vessels leading to internal bleeding in the brain.
- Open or penetrating – This covers injuries where the skull is broken through. Damage to the brain can result from the initial trauma or from the brain being left exposed. High speed collisions and impacts from projectiles or from sharp objects can all cause open head injuries.
Common types of traumatic brain injury include:
- Second-Impact Syndrome (SIS) – This refers to a rapid swelling of the brain. It is caused by a concussion occurring when the victim is still recovering from an earlier concussion. In some cases, this could be weeks after the original concussion was sustained. It can often prove fatal.
- Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI) – This is a term given to a kind of trauma over a widespread area of the brain. Unfortunately, it is one of the most common types of traumatic brain injury. It can result in unconsciousness, a persistent vegetative state, and death. If consciousness is regained, there is expected to be a high degree of physical and mental impairment.
- Hypoxic-Anoxic Injuries (HAI) – This covers injuries caused by a partial or complete lack of oxygen to the brain. The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen to function, if the supply is stopped, or insufficient, then brain function will be immediately impaired. After around four minutes without oxygen, lasting damage to brain tissue can occur, leading to the risk of serious cognitive impairment. There are many possible causes, including choking, chemical poisoning, or complications at birth.
- Cerebral contusion – This term refers to a bruising of the brain tissue. A cerebral contusion occurs when the small blood vessels in an area of the brain are damaged, causing blood to leak from them. Cerebral contusions can cause a decline in long-term mental function.
- Coup-contrecoup injury – This term refers to a pattern of cerebral contusions (see above) which can occur at the impact site of a trauma and also upon the opposite side of brain. It happens when strong forces are involved: the initial impact causes one contusion, then the ‘recoil’ effect leads to the brain hitting the inside of the skull on the opposite side, resulting in another area of the brain being damaged.
- Concussion – Concussions are temporary brain injuries caused by a trauma. Their symptoms normally occur straightaway but can appear at a later time, even up to a few days after the trauma. At their most minor, concussion symptoms can include: headaches, dizziness, and nausea. More severe symptoms, however, include: memory loss, persistent vomiting, behavioural changes, and sensory impairment. It is important to monitor concussion symptoms carefully in case they indicate a more serious brain injury. Whilst recovering, it is also very important to avoid any further concussions – (see Second-Impact Syndrome above)
The long-term effects of brain damage can completely change a person’s life. They can cause:
- Personality changes
- Reduced life expectancy
- Cognitive impairment
- Physical disability
- Sensory deprivation
- Epilepsy or seizures
With any injury, the most important consideration is your health and wellbeing. This is true whether you are making a compensation claim or not. Given the potentially drastic consequences of brain injuries, you must make sure you are receiving the medical care you need.