March is observed as National Brain Injury Awareness Month. This is a time for us to recognize that more than 5 million Americans are living with permanent disabilities caused by traumatic brain injuries. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traumatic brain injury contributes to about 30 percent of all U.S. injury deaths each year. At least 2.5 million children and adults suffer from traumatic brain injuries each year in the United States. Of those, about 2.2 million are treated in emergency departments and about 280,000 are hospitalized.
Traumatic brain injury occurs when an external mechanical force causes brain dysfunction. This type of injury usually results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or the body. An object that penetrates the skull can also cause a traumatic brain injury. A mild traumatic brain injury may cause temporary dysfunction of brain cells. However, a more serious brain injury could result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other brain damage that could result in lifelong disabilities or even death.
Brain injuries can range from mild to severe. The impact of a moderate to severe brain injury is depends on the severity of the initial injury, the functions that have been affected, the resources available to aid recovery and areas of function that have not been affected by the injury.
The impact of a moderate to severe brain injury can include:
Falls are responsible for a majority of traumatic brain injuries. Among children 14 and under, falls cause 50 percent of traumatic brain injuries. For seniors over the age of 65, falls are the cause of 62 percent of traumatic brain injuries. Traffic accidents are the second leading cause of brain injuries accounting for roughly 17.3 percent of all traumatic brain injuries. However, auto accidents are the leading cause of death from brain injury. The third leading cause of brain injuries is striking or being struck by an object. This happens often in a construction zone setting or in the case of a workplace injury. Assaults account for 10 percent of traumatic brain injuries in the United States.
There is no getting around the fact that life is a lot different after a traumatic brain injury. In addition to the physical and physiological changes a brain injury might trigger, being afflicted with a brain injury could also mean loss of a job, career or disruption of one’s education. It can change your plans for the future, alter the way you meet and make friends and could even affect the way you think about yourself. Life after a brain injury brings a number of challenges not just for the injured, but also their family members.
Soon after suffering an injury, victims tend to dwell on the abilities they have lost. Emotionally, this could be overwhelming, frustrating and often…depressing. Unfortunately a brain injury is not something you can “walk off.” And severe brain injuries are debilitating and catastrophic, leaving victims with permanent and lifelong disabilities that affect different facets of their lives.
Brain injuries also have a tendency to present a number of psychological challenges and may affect one’s mental health. Depression, anger, stress and anxiety are some common repercussions of a traumatic brain injury. It is important the patients and their families seek out care and support if they experience mental health problems. In addition to treatment, victims also need lengthy rehabilitation including vocational training to regain some level of independence.
The costs of living with a brain injury can add up to millions of dollars during a person’s lifetime. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), acute care and rehabilitation of brain injury patients in the United States costs about $9 billion to $10 billion per year. This does not include indirect costs to society as well as to families, such as costs associated with lost earnings, work time, and productivity, as well as the costs linked to providing social services. While costs vary according to the extent of the injury and its specific long-term effects, it is estimated that the cost of caring for a survivor of severe traumatic brain injury is between $600,000 and $1,875,000 over a lifetime.
If you have suffered a brain injury as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of surgery, rehabilitative treatment, therapy, loss of livelihood and pain and suffering. For example, if you have suffered an injury in a car accident, the negligent driver who caused the accident may be held liable. If you suffered a brain injury in a slip-and-fall accident in a shopping mall due to the property owner and/or manager’s negligence, you could seek compensation from those at-fault parties for your injuries, damages and losses.
The experienced Orange County brain injury attorneys at Timothy J. Ryan & Associates know and understand the challenges victims and families face in the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury. We will strive to help you obtain maximum compensation for your losses. Call us at (800) 838-6644 for a no-cost consultation and case evaluation.