Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, affects about 1.7 million people each year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. That number includes 52,000 people who die from TBI and 275,000 who require hospitalization. The CDC estimates that TBI is a contributing factor in nearly one-third of all injury-related deaths.
An overwhelming number of TBI cases result from preventable accidents, such as automobile crashes, workplace accidents, slips and falls. Brain injury at childbirth can cause cerebral palsy, a neuro-muscular impairment that cannot be cured. In some cases, a TBI from a motor vehicle accident, a fall, or child abuse can cause cerebral palsy in a young child.
Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury
A TBI can also be caused by a blow, bump or jolt to the head, or by a piercing head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. The damage can adversely affect brain cells, blood vessels and tissues that protect the brain, impairing critical functions such as speech, vision and memory.
A TBI may be mild, leading to a brief change in mental status or a mild concussion. Most brain injuries are mild concussions and other forms of mild TBI. Some TBIs are categorized as severe and can lead to an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia.
Traumatic brain injury is often called a silent epidemic because outsiders cannot see the signs of serious brain damage or may attribute symptoms the injured individual exhibits to another cause. Symptoms of TBI include:
- Memory loss
- Inability to focus
- Sensitivity to noise and light
Any violent blow to the head can lead to TBI. The CDC reports that the leading causes are:
- Falls – These are the leading cause of TBI in the U.S. and account for 35 percent of those injuries. Falls cause 50 percent of the TBIs among children age 14 or younger and six of every 10 TBI cases among adults 65 years old and older.
- Motor vehicle accidents – Car accidents cause 17 percent of all TBI cases and are the leading cause of all TBI-related deaths (32 percent). The sudden jolt from striking another moving vehicle, such as in a front-end or rear-end collision, can cause immediate bleeding and swelling around the brain or tear the brain’s protective tissue.
- Struck by / against events – About 16.5 percent of TBI cases are caused by collisions with a moving or stationary object. For instance, a TBI may result from falling materials at a construction site or by slamming into heavy equipment at an industrial plant or warehouse.
- Assaults and blasts – These incidents can also trigger TBI symptoms, causing temporary or permanent disability that can have a devastating impact on the lives of TBI victims and their families.
Brain Injury and Childbirth
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that appears in infancy or early childhood and permanently affects body movement and muscle coordination. It is usually the result of harm to a child’s brain that happens before birth, during birth or shortly after birth.
Cerebral palsy is most often caused by lack of oxygen (asphyxia) to a child’s brain during pregnancy or delivery or immediately thereafter. Other pre-natal (before birth) contributors to brain damage include infections, blood disease and genetic disorders. This is why it is so important for a medical professional to order appropriate tests that can detect problems with the pregnant mother or pre-natal child, such as an infection or oxygen deprivation.
A small number of children develop cerebral palsy as the result of brain damage in the first few months or years of their life. It may be caused by head injury from a motor vehicle accident, a fall or child abuse or from an infection, such as bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) says.
Cerebral palsy sufferers have lifelong problems with balance, posture and motor function, including mobility. Problems can range from mild to severe. A child with cerebral palsy can often benefit from early and sustained physical therapy, though in more severe cases assistive devices like wheelchairs or speech synthesizers will always be a part of the individual’s lifestyle.
Contact a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Today for Legal Help
If you or a loved one has suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) as the result of another person’s negligent or reckless conduct, the Chicago personal injury attorneys of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. can help. We have offices in Chicago and Waukegan, and we represent clients throughout Illinois. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call us today toll free or use our online form.