According to the Mayo Clinic, traumatic brain injury is defined as an injury to the brain and nervous system that can have a wide range of psychological and physical effects. These injuries are usually caused by a jolt or violent blow to the head or body such as from an automobile accident, or even a slip and fall. An object that penetrates the brain tissue such as a sharp, broken piece of skull or a bullet can also cause a traumatic brain injury.
A traumatic brain injury can also be categorized as either mild or moderate-to-severe. A mild traumatic brain injury can affect the brain cells temporarily. A moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury can result in bleeding, torn tissues, bruising and other damage to the brain. Long-term complications of a traumatic brain injury can result in coma and death.
WHAT IMPORTANCE DO TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES HAVE TO PERSONAL INJURY CASES IN ILLINOIS?
The personal injury team at Koester & Bradley has been handling head injury cases in Champaign and across the state of Illinois for decades. Tom Koester and Ryan Bradley have seen firsthand how damaging a head injury can be—whether from an auto accident, a slip and fall case, medical malpractice or a defective product. The majority of closed head injury cases in Illinois are the result of car and semi-truck accidents. The reason is simple, the high rate of speed which cars and trucks travel on Illinois roadways leads to severe impact and brain injury. Head trauma and brain injury may not always be obvious either since a personal injury victim can sustain tremendous impact and the injuries with no visible damages.
While loss of consciousness is a tell-tale sign of a head injury, this is not always the case. Symptoms can even arise days, weeks, or months after the accident. This is why it is vital to seek medical attention after a slip and fall or auto accident—even if you feel fine at the time.
COMMON TYPES OF TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY IN ILLINOIS PERSONAL INJURY CASES
- Concussion: A mild traumatic brain injury caused as a result of the head receiving a direct impact blow causing the brain to slide back and forth forcefully against the skull’s inner lining. Being violently shaken or sudden acceleration or deceleration of the head in a motor vehicle accident can also cause this mild traumatic brain injury
- Contusion: A bruise on the brain as a result of the head receiving a direct impact blow. Surgical intervention may be necessary if swelling or brain herniation should occur.
- Coup-Contrecoup: Bruising on opposite sides of the brain that occurs when the force of the initial impact causes the brain to bounce into the opposite side of the skull. The “coup” is the initial impact” and the “contrecoup” is the second impact. This traumatic brain injury can occur with or without blunt trauma directly to the head.
- Diffuse Axonal: This is the most common and devastating traumatic brain injury that results in the formation of extensive lesions throughout the white matter of the brain. Direct blow to the head, falls where the head whips back and forth, motor vehicle accidents, sport injuries and injuries which cause the brain to shake violently back and forth rapidly are the causes of this traumatic brain injury. Neuroimaging is required to identify this injury.
- Penetration: This severe traumatic brain injury is caused by a foreign object entering the brain or a piece of skull or bone is broken off during impact of a direct blow which enters the brain and damages tissue and ruptures nerves. Brain surgery is required to remove the foreign objects and repair the skull.
COMMON CAUSES OF TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES LEADING TO PERSONAL INJURY AND ACCIDENT CASES
- Slip and Fall Accidents. These types of accidents happen in public places, stores, and even private residences. These cases are also known as premises liability cases in Illinois.
- Motor Vehicle Accidents. Koester & Bradley has found from our decades of car accident experience that motor vehicle accidents are a primary source of head injuries in Illinois.
- Sports and Recreation. Also known as closed head injuries these types of brain injuries happen in organized sports, general recreational activities, and other activities involving impact or falls. Recently, football, soccer, baseball and basketball have been pinpointed as causes of closed head injuries.
- Fall from a Height, e.g. work-related accidents involving a fall from ladders or scaffolding. Often these types of brain and head injuries result in worker’s compensation cases as well as personal injury cases when the victim is working.
- Birth Injury, e.g. cerebral palsy. These are some of the most heartbreaking cases since there are often injures to a baby during a childbirth process due to medical malpractice.
- Explosive Blasts/Combat Injuries
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A MILD TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY DUE TO PERSONAL INJURY AND ACCIDENT CASES?
The Champaign-Urbana Accident and Injury Lawyers at Koester & Bradley have found that most head injuries from car accidents or personal injuries are considered “mild” but are not mild for the victim.
PHYSICAL HEAD INJURY SYMPTOMS
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Sleeping more than usual
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- No loss of consciousness but a feeling of disorientation
- Brief loss of consciousness from a few seconds to a few minutes
- Nausea or vomiting
- Problems with speech
SENSORY HEAD INJURY SYMPTOMS
- Light or sound sensitivity
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Changes in smelling ability
- Bad taste in mouth
COGNITIVE HEAD INJURY SYMPTOMS
- Feeling depressed or anxious
- Memory/concentrations issues
- Mood changes/swings
Cognitive head injury symptoms are among the most difficult to ascertain after an accident. Often times, the victim is embarrassed to admit to cognitive difficulties and friends, family, and loved ones are the first to notice.
SYMPTOMS OF A MODERATE-TO-SEVERE TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY FOLLOWING A PERSONAL INJURY CASE
PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS OF MODERATE-TO-SEVERE HEAD INJURIES
- Persistent headache or worsening headache
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
- Clear fluids draining from nose or ears
- Dilation of one or both eye pupils
COGNITIVE SYMPTOMS OF MODERATE-TO-SEVERE HEAD INJURIES
- Unusual behavior
- Slurred speech
- Profound confusion
- Coma or other consciousness disorders
SEVERE COMPLICATIONS THAT CAN OCCUR AFTER A TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY
- Vegetative State
- Minimally Conscious State (severely altered consciousness with some signs of self-awareness)
- Brain Death
PHYSICAL COMPLICATIONS OF ACCIDENT-RELATED SEVERE HEAD INJURIES
- Frequent Headaches (sometimes persisting for months after the initial injury)
- Hydrocephalus (fluid buildup on the brain)
- Infections, e.g. Meningitis
- Cranial Nerve Damage (may result in dizziness, ringing in ears, hearing loss, loss of vision, double vision, loss/altered sense of taste, loss/altered sense of smell, paralysis of facial muscles)
- Bad smell or difficulty smelling
- Balance difficulties or dizziness
- Bitter taste in mouth
- Blind spots
- Double vision
- Difficulty recognizing objects
- Impaired hand-eye coordination
- Persistent ringing in the ears
- Tingling, Itchy or Painful skin
- Memory Difficulties
- Concentration Difficulties
- Learning Difficulties
- Reasoning Difficulties
- Judgment Difficulties
- Inability or difficulty making decisions
- Inability or difficulty problem-solving
- Inability or difficulty organizing
- Inability to make plans
- Inability to begin or complete tasks
- Inability to Multi-task
COMMUNICATION COMPLICATIONS OF SEVERE HEAD INJURIES FROM PERSONAL INJURY ACCIDENTS
- Difficulty speaking or writing
- Difficulty understanding speech or writing
- Difficulty following or participating in a conversation
- Difficulty or inability to organize thoughts and ideas
- Inability to use muscles to make speech
- Difficulty starting or stopping a conversation
- Difficulty with turn taking or topic selection in conversation
- Difficulty reading cues from listeners
- Difficulty with tone, pitch or emphasis to express emotion, attitudes or subtle differences in meaning
- Difficulty understanding nonverbal cues
BEHAVIORAL AND EMOTIONAL COMPLICATIONS
- Verbal or physical outbursts
- Difficulty with self-control
- Difficulty in social situations
- Lack of awareness of abilities
- Risky behavior
- Lack of empathy for others
- Mood swings
INCREASED CHANCE OF DEGENERATIVE BRAIN DISEASES
- Alzheimer’s disease (causes progressive loss of memory and other thinking skills)
- Dementia pugilista (causes symptoms of dementia and movement problems)
- Parkinson’s disease (causes symptoms of tremors, rigidity and slow movements)