Michigan Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney

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What Really is a Traumatic Brain Injury?traumatic brain injury image for Thurswell Lawyers in Michigan

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result when a person suffers a blow to the head, a penetrating head injury, or a jarring movement, all of which are possible in an auto accident. Every head injury does not automatically lead to a brain injury, but if the impact negatively affects the brain’s normal function, a brain injury is often the diagnosis.

The Different Categories of Brain Injuries

Brain injuries vary in intensity and typically fall into three categories:

  • Severe Brain Injuries: A crushing blow that penetrates the skull and brain, a severe brain injury is life-threatening. It is likely that the victim of an open head injury will find their life altered forever and their abilities challenged significantly.
  • Moderate Brain Injuries: A moderate head injury involves a loss of consciousness, sometimes for hours. The physical, behavioral, and cognitive complications of this injury are often permanent but, at the very least, can last for months and require therapy to overcome.
  • Mild Brain Injuries: A mild brain injury, often called a concussion, may or may not include the loss of consciousness. If a blackout occurs, it is only for seconds or minutes. Medical tests may not accurately diagnose a mild brain injury so, if a TBI is suspected, it is necessary for doctors to observe and test a person’s mental and physical functions to make a confident diagnosis.

Brain Injury Terms

Patients trust their medical providers to give them the care they need to stay as healthy as possible, and in the case of a brain injury, prompt diagnosis and treatment is critically important. If a doctor misdiagnoses or fails to diagnose a brain injury, the patient may not get the treatment needed. Specific errors made by medical professionals include both diagnostic and treatment errors:

Diagnostic errors

  • failure to identify a traumatic brain injury
  • failure to order the appropriate tests (CT scan or MRI)
  • error in communicating with other medical staff
  • error in following up and tracking test results

Treatment errors

  • lapse in treatment
  • utilizing an inappropriate treatment method
  • mismanagement of medication
  • inappropriate use of birthing instruments (in the case of birth injury)

When such errors occur, the brain condition can worsen and cause additional physical and emotional suffering, along with extensive medical bills. In some cases, brain injury errors on the part of medical staff can even be fatal.

Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury

While severe and moderate head injuries are quite obvious, a mild brain injury can easily be overlooked, especially if there are other bodily injuries from an auto accident that demand immediate attention. Negligence or delay in the diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury, however, can negatively impact relationships, career, and the ability to function independently.

If a TBI was not diagnosed after your auto accident or an accident involving a loved, there are typical brain injury symptoms to watch for, including:

  • amnesia
  • easily distracted and unable to concentrate
  • nausea or vomiting
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • impulsiveness
  • problems with short-term memory
  • slow to process information
  • ringing in the ears
  • difficulty finishing a task
  • unmotivated
  • lack of self-control
  • visual impairment
  • changes in taste and smell
  • difficulty with problem-solving
  • changes in sleep patterns
  • inability to find the right words

Not all brain injuries present the same way – symptoms vary widely from one person to another. Behavior that is erratic, confusing, irrational, moody, or otherwise inexplicable after an auto accident could indicate that a traumatic brain injury was suffered. A misdiagnosis of a TBI can change the life of the sufferer forever and impact the livelihood and happiness of their loved ones.

Most Common Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

Concussions. Concussions can occur in both open- and closed-head injuries. The most common type of brain injury, a concussion can develop from an impact to the head or a sudden change in movement. The jolt of a car accident, for example, can easily cause a concussion. If there is an absence of swelling, bleeding, or open wounds, or if symptoms are not evident immediately, a concussion can easily be overlooked or misdiagnosed, which delays treatment. Healing from a concussion can take weeks, months, or even years.

Head Contusion. A contusion on the body is a blow to subsurface tissue that doesn’t break the skin and results in a bruise. A bruise seems like a mild injury, but when it impacts the brain, it can be serious. When the brain suffers a contusion from a direct blow to the head, the results can lead to bleeding. Swelling, skin discoloration, and pain may be evident. Many contusions heal on their own without medical intervention, but the more severe contusions of the brain often require surgery. Athletes and children are some of the most common sufferers of head contusions

Penetrating Injuries. A penetrating traumatic brain injury occurs when bone, skin, hair, or fragments of any kind penetrate the skull and are forced into the brain. This serious, life-threatening injury can rupture brain tissue and requires immediately medical care. Gunshot wounds are the most common cause of death by this type of TBI, but similar injuries occur in auto accidents or from being struck on the head by an object.

Diffuse Axonal. A diffuse axonal traumatic brain injury occurs when the brain is rapidly shifted inside the skull. The quick acceleration and deceleration of the brain results in the tearing of connective fibers and nerve tissue in the brain. The diagnosis of a diffuse axonal injury can offer proof of shaken baby syndrome. This TBI can also occur in auto accidents. Severe shaking or rotation can lead to brain damage, coma, and death.

Lasting Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury

The recovery from a brain injury, even the mildest of injuries, can be lengthy, trying, and exhausting for a victim and loved ones. There may never be a full recovery, and the lasting effects of this injury from an auto accident could reverberate forever.

  • Physical Disabilities After a Head Injury: Balance and coordination can be affected, fatigue and weakness may be experienced, and some victims suffer seizures.
  • Cognitive Effects of a Brain Injury: Cognitive side effects of a TBI are common and troublesome because they are not always easy to recognize and can be mistaken for other problems, such as mood disorders or attention deficit disorders. Emotional and behavioral issues can present differently, depending on which part of the brain was damaged. Everything from risky behavior to depression, apathy to anxiety, and anger to impulsiveness can result from a TBI.
  • Neurological Deficits After a TBI: The way the nervous system responds can be impacted by a TBI and lead to side effects such as paralysis, weakness, loss of sensation, numbness, loss of coordination, and poor fine motor skills.

How a Brain Injury Can Be Overlooked or Misdiagnosed

Brain injuries range from mild to severe, but all brain injuries have the potential to cause life-changing effects and impact an one’s personal and professional relationships. When a TBI is overlooked or misdiagnosed, the patient does not receive the treatment needed to heal and adapt. Misdiagnosis can also mean that a patient may be treated for a problem that has a deeper root cause – such as a mood disorder – while the brain injury itself is not adequately addressed.

Brain injury misdiagnoses can occur for a variety of reasons:

  • The TBI is not obvious. Any violent movement of the head or an impact to the skull can shift the brain and potentially cause bruising, bleeding, swelling, or tearing. Side effects of such trauma, however, are not always obvious. If emergency personnel are unaware of the circumstances surrounding a patient’s accident or injury, or if they fail to ask questions that would provide more information about potential injuries, the TBI can be overlooked.
  • Symptoms present later. An individual who’s been involved in a car accident, for example, may not have hit their head but might have experienced a jarring motion to the skull and brain. Beyond the obvious discomfort is the possibility that such a motion caused a brain injury. The outward symptoms of a TBI might not show immediately following the accident, but it is a medical professional’s responsibility to explore all avenues for potential injury and diagnosis.
  • Scans are not accurate. Some medical personnel may rely on brain imaging tools, such as CAT scans or MRIs, to diagnose a brain injury. Frequently, a TBI will not be detected through these tools and a more comprehensive, hands-on testing is necessary for an accurate diagnosis. Unfortunately, some medical professionals rely solely on imaging results and fail to diagnosis the TBI.
  • Poor medical care. When patients spend time in a hospital because of injuries sustained in an accident or fall, they should be monitored for any changes to their condition that could indicate progressing brain injuries. Inadequate monitoring can lead to an overlooked or late diagnosis.

If You Have Suffered a Brain Injury in Any Accident

Recovery from a TBI is not predictable. Setbacks should be expected. There are likely to be difficulties in regulating moods, which is an especially brutal side-effect for the sufferer, who is unable to explain inappropriate reactions. A TBI is life-altering. It may be difficult to do your job, care for your family, maintain a relationship, socialize, or manage the responsibilities you have as an adult. The costs of therapy and recovery, whether temporary or long-term, will add up quickly. Life as you know it can be changed forever.

If you have been injured in an auto accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result, and if your brain injury was misdiagnosed, contact Thurswell Law for a free consultation. We have extensive experience in proving brain injury cases, and understand the frustrations and challenges you are dealing with because of your injury. Our knowledgeable brain injury attorneys will give you the best chance to receive full compensation for your suffering.

There are no fees unless you collect. Call us at (248) 354-2222 to schedule your free consultation.

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