Every year, more than one million Americans are seen by doctors and at emergency rooms after suffering a head injury. Of those people, 50,000 to 100,000 will have suffered a brain injury which will linger and will affect their every day lives including work and school. The majority of traumatic brain injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents. Even if an accident victim does not hit their head on a the windshield, steering wheel or another fixed object, a brain injury can occur.
Sometimes diagnosing a brain injury is more difficult than one might think. Common tests used to examine the brain include CT scans (which use X-rays) and MRIs (which use magnetic fields). While both of these tools are fantastic in seeing blood and tumors in the brain, they are not good at seeing tears in the brain which can be microscopic. Studies show that in 85% to 90% of patients with brain injuries, there is no evidence of the injury on a CT scan or MRI.
Some predictors of a brain injury after a trauma can include the following:
- PERL – a test to determine if a person with a brain injury has pupils that are equal and reactive to light.
- Loss of Consciousness – this means that the accident victim lost conscious awareness and the person may be unable to react to stimuli. Loss of consciousness can range from being momentarily dazed or “out of it” to being in a coma. The Glasgow Coma Scale is a neurological scale which allows a physician to asses the level of consciousness after a brain injury. In the Glasgow scale, there are 15 points on which a patient can be rated on based upon eye response, verbal response and best motor response. The lower the number in the scale, the more severe the injury.
- Amnesia – loss of memory for events leading up to the traumatic injury. Generally, people with longer periods of amnesia have more severe injuries.
- Concussion – the most common type of traumatic brain injury. Symptoms can include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, forgetfulness, irritability, anxiety, depression, mood swings and insomnia. Most people who suffer a concussion recover after a few months but up to 20% of patients can suffer symptoms for much longer periods. Diagnosis can include the Glasgow Coma Scale, testing pupil reactions and size and observing symptoms. Sometimes concussions can produce an abnormal EEG or PET scan.
- Encephalopathy – is a term that is often used to describe a brain injury. Symptoms of encephalopathy include confusion, memory loss, inattention, aggression, agitation and stupor.
- Focal neurologic signs – are signs which indicate to the physician that there may be an impairment in the brain or nervous system. Frontal lobe signs can include unsteadiness in walking, rigidity (hypertonia) of limbs, paralysis of limbs, head or eye movement, difficulty in expressing oneself (aphasia), seizures, changes in personality and loss of smell. Parietal lobe signs can include loss of tactile sensation, inability to pay attention, loss of ability to read or write, loss of ability to find a place and loss of ability to identify something by its touch. Temporal lobe signs include deafness, tinnitus, amnesia or memory loss, hallucinations and loss of ability to understand language. Occipital lobe signs include loss of vision, inability to recognize objects, faces or colors, visual hallucinations. Cerebellar signs include loss of balance and coordination. Spinal cord signs include paralysis and loss of sensation.
- Seizure – thrashing movements and loss of awareness caused by electrical discharges in the brains.
This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We are a personal injury law firm that specializes in representing people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury due to motor vehicle accidents, constructions accidents and falls. We work hard to insure that brain accident victims receive the compensation they deserve to provide for medical and rehabilitation costs, loss of wages and for pain and suffering.