How Do You Know if You Suffered a Brain Injury?

The brain is one of the most unique – and most vulnerable – organs in the body. While the brain is protected by the skull, which helps to prevent injuries in the event that the head is slightly impacted, the skull, too, has vulnerabilities. As a result, if the head is impacted with the right amount of force, a person may incur traumatic brain injury, or TBI.

When most people think about brain injuries, they picture something catastrophic such as losing consciousness, being unable to stand or walk or failing to recognize names and faces.

While all of these are certainly symptoms of more severe injuries, a TBI does not always have such obvious symptoms. A person who is involved in a car accident, slips and falls or suffers any other accident type may suffer from a TBI without even knowing it. However, even mild TBI can impair a person’s thinking, movement, senses and emotions, and the injury can be dangerous if not treated.

We present the following information to help you to understand the types and levels of TBI, to recognize symptoms of brain injuries and to get a clearer picture of how a traumatic brain injury attorney can help if you or a loved one has suffered TBI due to the negligence of another.

Types and Severity of Traumatic Brain Injury

No two brain injuries are alike. However, brain injuries can be placed into categories based on the type and severity. The Brain Injury Alliance of Utah provides an excellent overview of these different types, which are:

  • Concussions – The most common type of TBI. This type often is incurred when a person experiences a blow to the head, whiplash injury or violent shaking.
  • Contusions – This type of TBI essentially is a “bruise on the brain.” It also is known as bleeding of the brain.
  • Coup-Contrecoup injury – This term refers to an injury that is on one side of the brain and directly on the opposing side. This type of TBI happens when enough force hits the head so as to force the brain to slam into one side of the head and then into the opposite side of the head.
  • Diffuse axonal – This type of brain injury is caused from severe shaking of the head or by rotational forces, such as with a car accident. It can involve the shearing of axonal brain structures.
  • Penetration – This is a penetration injury. It is caused when the skull and brain are literally penetrated by an object such as a knife or bullet.

Not only are there multiple types of brain injuries but multiple levels of severity, too, which each carry different symptoms (many of which overlap).

Multiple different scales are often used to judge the severity of a TBI.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) may be used to assess comas and brain injuries.

Using the scale, persons with a score of 3-8 are considered to have a severe form of TBI, while those with a score of 9-12 are deemed to have moderate TBI and those with a score of 13-15 mild TBI.

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

Mild traumatic brain injuries will have different symptoms than moderate-to-severe TBIs. The Mayo Clinic reports that people should be aware of the following symptoms of TBI:

  • Mild Traumatic Brain InjuryEven a mild traumatic brain injury should still be checked out by a doctor. Symptoms of this type of brain injury include:
    • Fatigue
    • Vomiting or nausea
    • Loss of consciousness for a very brief amount of time
    • Headaches
    • Dizziness
    • Disturbances in sleep (sleeping more or less than usual)
    • Blurred vision
    • Sensitivity to sound and light
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Difficulty remembers small things
    • Changes in mood or emotion.

    A person does not have to have all of the symptoms above in order to have a mild traumatic brain injury.

  • Moderate-to-Severe Traumatic Brain InjuryObviously, a moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury is more worrisome and can be more dangerous if not treated quickly. Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries can include any of the signs and symptoms of mild injury, as well as the following symptoms:
    • Loss of consciousness for a more prolonged length of time
    • A lasting headache
    • Repeated vomiting
    • Seizures
    • Slurring of speech
    • Confusion
    • Irritability or agitation
    • Coma
    • Dilation of pupils in the eyes
    • Inability to wake up
    • Weakness in extremities
    • Inability to stand, or extreme dizziness
    • Unusual behavior such as aggression
    • Depression
    • Loss of appetite
    • Not sleeping well.

    If you have any of the symptoms from either category above, it is important that you see a doctor immediately.

Diagnosing and Treating TBI

A doctor will start by performing a physical exam. If more tests are needed to diagnose your brain injury, you may need to get a computed tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

Depending on the severity of your TBI, treatment will vary. For mild cases of TBI, the only thing that may be needed is plenty of rest and to refrain from physical activities.

However, other forms of TBI may require more intensive treatment. In some cases, surgery may even be needed to stop swelling in the brain and prevent permanent coma or death. In many cases, rehabilitative therapy may be necessary in the following weeks or months.

How an Experienced TBI Attorney Can Help You

Incurring a TBI – or caring for a loved one with a TBI – can be difficult to do. Not only may you have questions about your diagnosis and treatment as well as your future, but you may also have questions about who will pay for your injuries and other damages you have sustained.

One great resource for brain injury victims and their families is the Brain Injury Association of Virginia (BIAV). The BIAV can answer some of your questions and provide support during this difficult time.

For help with seeking compensation to pay for your injuries, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. If you believe that someone else’s negligence was the cause of your injury, the attorneys at Marks & Harrison can help you with pursuing full and fair compensation.

To receive a free and confidential consultation, contact us today.

Bryan L. Meadows is the Managing Attorney of Marks & Harrison's Fredericksburg office, where he concentrates his practice in the area of personal injury law. A graduate of Christopher Newport University and the Penn State University School of Law, Bryan served as the Managing Attorney of GEICO's Staff Counsel in Roanoke prior to joining Marks & Harrison. He is licensed to practice in Virginia state courts and the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia. Additionally, Bryan has served as Treasurer on the Board of Directors for the Brain Injury Association of Virginia and as President of the Salem/Roanoke County Bar Association.