What you should know about traumatic brain injuries and concussions
Misdiagnosis and failure to treat a traumatic brain injury is dangerous
September is National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month.
As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer, I have handled many cases where traumatic brain injuries were an issue.
Traumatic brain injuries are more common than most people realize. According to a report by the U. S. Centers for Disease Control, traumatic brain injuries result in around 2.2 million emergency department encounters, 280,000 hospitalizations, and 50,000 deaths each year.
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by something hitting or penetrating the head that disrupts the brain’s normal function. A TBI can be mild, where there is a brief change in mental status or concussion, or can be severe, where there is a longer duration of unconsciousness or amnesia following the injury.
About 75% of traumatic brain injuries that occur each year are a result of concussions, or other forms of mild TBIs. A concussion occurs when something hits the head that causes the brain to move back and forth in the cranial cavity and get bruised. Experts estimate that about 50% of concussions are never reported to healthcare provider. Considering that the reported concussions alone account for 43% of head injuries in young adults aged 15 to 19, it is easy to see how concussions are a serious issue.
Current medical research has established that repeated mild traumatic brain injuries occurring over an extended period of time result in cumulative neurological and cognitive deficits. In other words, the damage from having multiple TBIs over time add up and later on each other
How traumatic brain injuries or concussions might happen
As a tall person, I have bonked my head on SUV hatch doors and other things from time to time. Speaking of vehicles, anytime there is a car wreck, there is a risk of head injury. People who play sports, of course, have a higher risk of hitting their heads. Competitive sports like football and soccer are legendary for their high frequency of head injuries.
Another situation that is often overlooked is in older people, who are more prone to falling. Any time someone falls, there is a risk of a concussion or traumatic brain injury in that situation. That is one of the main reasons why hospitals, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and rehabilitation facilities consider patient falls to be “never events” that are carefully studied when they happen, so they can be avoided in the future. I have represented patients and medical malpractice lawsuits were healthcare providers did not document or assess a patient after a fall, resulting in brain swelling and serious injuries.
Symptoms of traumatic brain injury or concussion
One of the goals of National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month is to get people thinking about the situations where concussions and traumatic brain injuries can happen. Another goal is to promote knowledge of the signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury.
The major functional categories that may be affected by a TBI include: Thinking, Sensation, Language, and Emotion. Classic symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury, or concussion, include:
· altered vision, including blurry or double vision
· inability to think clearly
· sleep disruption, including problems getting to sleep or staying asleep
· dizziness and impaired balance
· feeling lethargic or having low-energy
· concentration and memory problems
· sensitivity to light or noise
What you can do
The Centers for Disease Control recommend that people suffering from a concussion or traumatic brain injury see a doctor for evaluation, get lots of rest, and avoid doing anything that could cause another impact to the head. Make sure that the doctor is aware of any medications that you are taking, and get clearance before driving a car, riding a bicycle, or using heavy equipment. This is important because brain injuries slow reaction time.
We are here to help
If you or someone you care for has suffered from a traumatic brain injury that was not properly diagnosed or treated, and it caused a serious injury, call the experienced medical negligence lawyers at Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas, for a free consultation about your potential case. Our phone number is 281-580-8800.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. In 2017, and preceding years, H Texas magazine and Houstonia magazine recognized him as one of Houston’s top lawyers, and Avvo has awarded him with a 10/10 rating. He files lawsuits for patients and their families against hospitals, surgeons, doctors, and pharmacies in medical negligence and wrongful death cases.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC.
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On 4/1/2018, the new law will end the current practice where doctors can secretly enter a DNR order against patient and family wishes
This article was originally published in the September/October 2017 edition of "The Houston Lawyer" magazine
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