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Why Did We Write This Guide?

We wanted to give you the most extensive and detailed guide of traumatic brain injury. This resource has the objective of helping you understand the causes, treatment options, frequently asked questions, how someone can live a normal life with TBI and  how a law firm help you get the compensation you deserve.

Who Is This Guide For?

If you’ve only began reading about brain injuries and want to learn more about how you can help someone who suffered a TBI, this Brain Injury Guide is for you.

How To Use This Guide?

This guide should give you an overview of TBI’s – understanding diagnosis, symptoms, treatment options and help available. This guide is available for download for free, by clicking on the button below.

1 Introduction

Your Brain Injury Has Occurred

head injury iconIncurring a brain injury in Illinois can be a terrifying experience – especially when the outcome of your brain injury is unknown or the prognosis is grim. If you have sustained a traumatic brain injury, you may have questions about how your brain injury will:

  • Affect your ability to return to work
  • Engage in physical activity
  • Continue living your life as you did prior to your accident.

If you are the family member of a person who has sustained a brain injury, you likely have worries about whether your loved one will recover, and if not, what life will look like moving forward.

Brain injury victims and their families should try to do as much research as possible understand in order to the journey that lies ahead. Knowing more will help when it comes to making decisions about medical treatment, at-home care and other important matters.

If the brain injury was caused by the negligence of another person, victims and their families may also be thinking about taking legal action in order to recover damages. They may have questions about what goes into a personal injury lawsuit and whether it is worth it.

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

brain injury iconA traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a “bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.” Traumatic brain injury can range in severity from mild (brief change in mental state or consciousness) to severe (extended duration of unconsciousness).

A traumatic brain injury can affect a person physically, cognitively and emotionally. The CDC states that TBI can impair:

  • Thinking, memory, and reasoning
  • Sensations such as touch, taste and smell
  • Language and communication abilities
  • Emotion, leading to anxiety, depression, anger and more.

A traumatic brain injury can be serious enough to render a person unable to care for himself or herself for the remainder of his or her life.

TBI severity is ranked using the Glasgow Coma Scale. reports that the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) measures the three following functions:

  • Eye opening
  • Verbal response
  • Motor response.

The higher the number that is assigned on the GCS, the less severe the brain injury.

For example:

  • A score of 6 for motor response indicates that the patient’s motor responses are normal. A score of 1, however, indicates that the patient is demonstrating no motor responses whatsoever.
  • A verbal response score of 4 indicates that the patient is having disoriented conversation. A verbal response score of 2, on the other hand, indicates that the patient is able to make sounds but is unable to form words.

Why Do Brain Injuries Occur?

head trauma iconA head may be bumped, hit, jolted or penetrated during a variety of accident types. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of TBIs every year. They account for 40 percent of all traumatic brain injuries in the United States.

The second-leading cause of traumatic brain injuries is being hit by an object, or blunt trauma. Motor vehicle crashes are the third-leading cause of traumatic brain injuries, comprising 14 percent of all TBIs. The fourth leading cause of traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. is assault.

While the above may be the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries, they are not the only ones. A brain injury may also occur from an accident while playing sports, a motorcycle accident, a pedestrian or bike accident or from an oxygen deprivation accident such as a near-drowning experience. Shaking a baby violently can also cause a traumatic brain injury, known as “shaken baby syndrome” when referring to infants.

What Are Signs of a Brain Injury?

The signs and symptoms of a TBI can vary greatly depending on whether a brain injury is mild, moderate or severe. The following are physical, sensory and cognitive symptoms to pay attention to:

Mild to Moderate

Usually, one of the first signs of a mild to moderate brain injury, according to the Mayo Clinic, is the loss of consciousness for a brief moment or a few seconds. If loss of consciousness does not occur, then the victim may report feeling dazed or may appear to be confused or disoriented. Other physical symptoms are:


In addition to physical symptoms, a victim and his or her family should also stay on the lookout for sensory and mental signs of a brain injury, too. These include:


Moderate to Severe Brain Injury Signs

Many moderate to severe brain injuries will share the same symptoms of mild to moderate brain injuries. However, the more serious the brain injury type, the more developed and prolonged are the symptoms.

For example, rather than losing consciousness for a few seconds, a moderate to severe brain injury may be characterized by a loss of consciousness of a few minutes or even a few hours. Further, rather than mild nausea, a person suffering from a severe TBI may experience uncontrollable vomiting.

Other symptoms of a more serious brain injury are:


The mental and sensory complications of a more serious traumatic brain injury are also more pronounced. Confusion may be profound, and a TBI victim may be unable to speak lucidly and form sentences and may slur speech.

A severe form of TBI may also render the victim unable to remember important details about the accident or about himself or herself such as his or her name or the day of the week. The person may also demonstrate extreme aggressiveness or agitation and may fall into a coma that persists for an extended duration of time.

Signs of a TBI in a Child

Children may respond to a traumatic brain injury differently than adults do. In addition to the symptoms above, a child may also experience mood or behavior changes after experiencing a blow or hit to the head. These may include changes in eating or sleeping habits, acting depressed, crying uncontrollably and losing interest in once-loved activities or toys.

When Should You Get Medical Treatment for a Brain Injury?

Knowing when to seek medical care for a brain injury is not always straightforward. Too often, people fail to seek medical care because they believe their symptoms to be minor – only to have the TBI advance to a more dangerous state.

It is important to seek medical treatment anytime that:

  • A blow, jolt or penetration to the head occurs, and
  • Physical, cognitive or behavioral changes are observed.

Even if you do not believe the injury to be serious, getting medical help from an emergency room medic, family doctor or a specialist could be critical to your outcome.

In fact, failing to seek treatment for TBI can be devastating. A brain injury can lead to fluid buildup and swelling in the brain that, if not quickly remedied, can lead to permanent brain damage.

A brain injury may also lead to an infection (if the head was cut or torn during the accident). The infection can enter the brain and even spread to the rest of the body’s nervous system. Other risks of brain injuries that go untreated include:

  • Altered consciousness, including going into a coma or vegetative state
  • Brain death
  • Seizures
  • Damage to the brain’s blood vessels, leading to blood clots or stroke
  • Damage to nerves within the brain, leading to loss of vision, partial or total facial paralysis, loss of sensation and more
  • Intellectual problems
  • Cognitive problems
  • Behavior and emotional changes
  • An increased risk for degenerative brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

To reduce your risk of suffering the traumatic side effects of a brain injury listed above, it is best to seek medical care as soon as possible after being struck in the head. While prompt treatment of TBI cannot reverse damage or prevent further damage in all cases, it does improve your chances of a more positive prognosis.

When Should You Get Help from a Lawyer?

Traumatic brain injury can leave you feeling physically devastated and emotionally drained. The prospect of hiring an attorney after a traumatic brain injury may seem to be intimidating, exhausting or even unnecessary.

However, in many cases, contacting an attorney can significantly improve your chances of recovering the compensation that you need to pay for your injury and improve your quality of life moving forward.

You should consider getting help from a lawyer if your brain injury would not have occurred but for the negligence of another person. Negligence refers to the failure to exercise the proper duty of care demanded by a current situation.

For example, if your brain injury was incurred during a car accident caused by a drunk driver, the drunk driver acted negligently by failing to operate his or car while sober and in compliance with the law. Or, if your traumatic brain injury was caused when you slipped and fell on a property with broken stair and no handrail, the property owner may be considered negligent for failing to maintain his or her property in a safe and hazard-free condition.

When negligence was the cause of your brain injury, a brain injury lawyer can provide you with legal guidance and services that include:

  • Conducting a thorough investigation into the cause of your injury
  • Helping to you to identify the at-fault party
  • Gathering evidence on your behalf
  • Compiling medical data to demonstrate the extent of your harm
  • Recruiting expert witnesses who can testify on your behalf
  • Filing your claim in full and on time
  • Determining the amount of damages that you have suffered
  • Negotiating for a fair settlement amount
  • Taking your case to court if necessary.

An attorney is also responsible for advocating for your rights during every step of the process. If you have any legal questions, an attorney can provide you with the answers. Your attorney can also help you to explore different avenues of compensation after incurring a brain injury, the types of damages that you and your family may be entitled to receive and the benefits and disadvantages of filing a personal injury action.

Most attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you do not have to pay the attorney up front and will not owe your attorney any money unless your case is successful.

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2 Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury

There are many situations in which a person may suffer TBI, including:

overturned car icon

Motor vehicle accidents

A victim may suffer a closed- or open-head injury due to the impact of a car, truck or motorcycle accident caused by a negligent driver. The risk of TBI is especially high when a bicyclist or pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle. About 16 percent of traffic crashes in Illinois each year involve an “A” injury such as TBI, the Illinois Department of Transportation reports.

person slipping icon


The CDC reports that falls are the leading cause of TBI in the U.S. Falls may be due to negligent property owners who allow dangerous conditions to exist on their property. Fall injuries are a particular concern in our nation’s nursing homes, leading to an estimated 1,800 deaths per year.

Sports and recreation

According to the CDC, nearly 174,000 children ages 19 and younger are treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year for TBI, including concussions, which are suffered while playing sports or engaging in recreational activities. Young athletes may suffer permanent brain damage due to the failure of coaches? the athletic department? to provide proper protective equipment to them or manage concussions after they occur

person falling icon

Workplace accidents

Falls from heights, being struck by tools and equipment and collisions with forklifts, trucks or other motor vehicles at construction or industrial sites may cause a victim to suffer brain injury.

stethoscope icon

Medical negligence

Many children suffer permanent brain damage due to the negligence of doctors, nurses, midwives and others during deliver. Birth injuries can lead to permanent conditions such as cerebral palsy.

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3 Initial Medical Treatment

surgeon iconThe road to recovery from a brain injury is long and twisted. It must be navigated one step at a time.
The first step on this path is obtaining initial treatment. Fortunately, in and around Chicago, a brain injury victim and/or his or her family have a variety of hospitals available to provide this immediate care.

At this stage of the recovery process, the focus is on:

  • Stabilizing the victim’s health
  • Preserving as much brain functioning as possible
  • Locating medical professionals and services that will be able to assist with the victim’s long-term recovery.

Treatment for a brain injury will then move on to working with specialists and focusing on helping the victim to regain the ability to complete basic activities of daily living. A patient may then be transferred to a specialized rehabilitation facility. Treatment would be aimed at relearning lost or forgotten functions and learning to manage limitations left by the brain injury.

In some brain injury cases, the victim may be in a coma for a period of time before awakening. In other cases, the brain injury may consist of a mild or moderate concussion. While recovery is possible from a coma or concussion, such recovery takes time and skilled medical care.

Why Is Getting Medical Treatment Important?

medical treatment for brain injuryThe importance of getting prompt medical attention and treatment for a brain injury victim cannot be overstated. Even a person who suffers a mild concussion should be taken without delay to a doctor or hospital emergency room for evaluation and testing. CT scans and other medical tests can assist doctors in determining the extent of brain damage and in formulating a treatment plan for the patient.

While mild concussions and brain injuries may resolve themselves with time and rest, a more serious brain injury requires prompt medical intervention to minimize the amount of permanent brain damage and loss.

Types of Initial Treatment for Brain Injuries

The Brain Injury Association of America describes the two main types of initial treatment offered to brain injury victims. The first type is centered on preserving the physical life of the victim, while the second type is designed to preserve brain functioning as much as possible. These two types of treatment are:

head injury intensive careIntensive Care

A brain injury victim that arrives in a hospital will first receive intensive care and treatment that is designed to preserve the individual’s physiological functioning so that organs continue to receive the blood and oxygen they need to function.

Ventilators may be used to help the brain injury victim to breathe if he or she is not breathing autonomously. IV lines are commonly used to deliver fluids and medication to the victim. Depending on the circumstances of the injury, a nasogastric tube may be used to deliver food and medicine directly to the brain injury victim’s stomach if the victim is unable to swallow. The purpose of intensive care (ICU) treatment is to stabilize the victim.

Acute Rehabilitation iconAcute Rehabilitation

Once the victim is medically stable, doctors and nurses will want to begin acute rehabilitation, which is overseen by health professionals with a background and specializing training in treating brain injuries. These individuals will work the victim to attempt to “relearn” basic but important activities of daily living such as putting on one’s clothes and caring for one’s self.

Both of these services – intensive care and acute rehabilitation – are often able to be provided within the same hospital. This minimizes the disruption to the brain injury victim and his or her family.

Facts about Concussions

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a concussion is a “mild form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that can be caused by a bump, blow, jolt” or a rapid acceleration/deceleration movement of the head.

Concussions have been featured prominently in the media recently as some school districts and community organizations ponder whether to suspend sports programs like football over fears of children suffering concussions.

An article in the Journal of Athletic Training claims that there are approximately 300,000 sports-related brain injuries – mostly concussions – that occur to high school and college-aged athletes each year.

Concussions may be mild and go away after a few days, or they may be severe and result in lasting changes to the individual. In either case, a concussion victim should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.

Concussions accompanied by any of the following symptoms indicate that a person is in medical distress and needs immediate care:

  • An increasingly-severe headache
  • Weakness, numbness and/or decreased coordination
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Unable to be woken up or appearing drowsy
  • Unusual behavior
  • Loss of consciousness – even for a brief period of time.

According to the Mayo Clinic, treatment for concussions should consist of:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Avoiding physical activity and staying out of sports participation until symptoms subside
  • Avoiding activities that require thinking or concentration, including watching TV, playing video games or doing school work.
  • Taking pain medication such as acetaminophen.

As notes, a major concern with concussions is the risk of a victim suffering a repeat concussion, or “second-impact syndrome,” which can result in permanent neurological and functional impairment.

Facts about Comas

When a person is in a coma, that person appears to be sleeping but is, in fact, completely unresponsive to the world around him or her. According to, some of the common characteristics of individuals in a coma include:

  • No eye-opening
  • Inability to follow or respond to instructions
  • No speech or attempts at communication
  • No purposeful movement.

Any brain injury victim has the potential to transition from a coma or unconscious state to a conscious state as part of his or her recovery. The severity of the brain injury will play a large role in determining how long a person will remain in a coma. A coma should not last longer than four weeks.

While a person is in a coma, he or she will need near-constant medical care and attention. As the individual comes out of the coma, he or she will gradually gain awareness of his or her surroundings before regaining the ability to interact with those surroundings.

The Washington State Traumatic Brain Injury Council offers tips for family members on how they can help their loved one to recover from a coma:

  • Minimize talking and touching as this can agitate the coma victim
  • While it is OK to explain what happened and where the victim is, keep it brief
  • Bring something familiar that the coma victim may remember such as a picture, favorite piece of clothing or a favorite movie
  • Inform the victim of the time of day, who you are and who else is in the room with you.

Brain Injury-Related Complications

According to the Mayo Clinic, TBI can lead to complications either immediately or soon after the traumatic brain injury is inflicted. The more severe the injury, the greater the risk of one or more of the following complications:

  • Altered consciousness such as slipping into a coma, falling into a vegetative state or suffering brain death (no detectable activity occurring in the brain)
  • Recurring seizures that last for a week or two after the injury
  • Buildup of fluid, which can cause increased pressure in the head and swelling of the brain
  • Intellectual problems, including loss of memory, inability to learn or reason, impaired judgment and attention and trouble with problem-solving, decision-making and organization
  • Communicative problems such as a difficulty with understanding speech or the written word and difficulty communicating appropriately with others in public
  • Behavioral and emotional changes that can result in a lack of self-control, anxiety, irritability and mood swings
  • Degenerative brain disease, or conditions that gradually destroy brain cells and impede brain functioning, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Prompt and competent treatment plays a vital role in the proper management and control of any symptoms or complications that may result from a brain injury.

List of Chicago Area Medical Centers

Residents of Chicago are fortunate to have several medical centers in the area that specialize in brain injuries or feature a unit that focuses on patients who come in with a brain injury. Some of these centers include:

Rehabilitation Institute of ChicagoRehabilitation Institute of Chicago logo – The RIC is a non-profit hospital that has been described as “a leader in rehabilitation services for brain injury survivors” by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Its team features a neurologist as well as physiatrists, nurses, clinical social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech and language pathologists. The RIC focuses on providing “individualized care” to patients.

Rush University Medical CenterRush University Medical Center logo – Rush features one of the region’s largest concussion clinics for athletes as well as the “Road Home Program,” which offers consultations and treatment for Chicagoland military veterans who suffer from traumatic brain injury as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

University of Chicago Medical CenterThe University of Chicago Medicine logo – The home to one of the top medical schools in the country, which has produced 12 Nobel Prize winners in physiology or medicine. The hospital features a unit that focuses on concussions in children.

Choosing a Doctor for Your Brain Injury

When initially seeking treatment for your brain injury, you want to be sure that you are treated by the “right” doctor. But how do you find the elusive “right” doctor in a sea of individuals with impressive-sounding medical credentials?

The search for the right doctor to handle your brain injury treatment should be conducted deliberately and thoughtfully. Treat the search for the right doctor as a job interview: You are interviewing potential candidates for the very serious and sensitive job of caring for your brain and helping you to recover from your brain injury.

As you meet with various doctors, take the time to ask them questions. Some potential questions might include:

What is your educational and professional background? Where did this doctor go to school and complete his or her residency? How long has he or she been in practice? While graduating from a prestigious school and having decades of experience are no guarantee of a positive outcome in your case, a doctor with these characteristics suggests that he or she is dedicated to the profession and will handle your case with care and skill.

Do you specialize in treating brain injuries? Mechanics specialize in working on certain cars, and lawyers often specialize in just a few areas of the law. The vast body of medical knowledge is now so complex that doctors have to focus their attentions in just a few specialties. A doctor who specializes in brain injuries is likely one who keeps up to date on current trends and research, including new and promising methods of treatment.

How have you treated injuries like mine before, and how do you plan to treat my injuries? You should feel free to ask whether you are the doctor’s first brain injury patient or whether he or she has helped other brain-injury patients. If so, how did the doctor help the patient? While past results are never a guarantee of a certain outcome in your case, a doctor with positive past experiences can help calm your nerves and give you peace of mind about your future care. Discuss with the doctor what treatments he or she plans to offer, both initially and long-term.

Additionally, you should take the time to research each doctor, including the reviews any former patients have left online. When doing so, go beyond the “stars” or numerical ratings and critically read and evaluate the reviews and comments left about the doctor.

Doctors who have had several patients make negative, substantive comments about their practice should cause you to pause and consider whether that doctor is the right doctor for you.

Finally, you should do a “gut check” with each doctor. Any doctor that makes you feel uncomfortable or uneasy should be eliminated as a candidate. You will trust your health or the health of your loved one to this person for many years to come. You ought to have confidence and faith in your brain injury doctor.

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4 Understanding Your Diagnosis

TBI iconTraumatic brain injury (TBI) can be a tragic injury. Unlike other injuries, TBI impacts more than one part of the body. It affects many of the body’s systems – all at the same time. The most severe forms of TBI can leave a person in a coma or vegetative state or result in death. But even mild forms of TBI such as concussions can be scary.

You must seek medical care immediately after you suffer any type of suspected head or brain injury. Failure to treat TBI can cause the injury to worsen and lead to lasting, harmful effects one one’s ability to think, move and control emotions.

If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with TBI, you may have many questions about what it will mean for you and your family. We hope many of your questions are addressed in the following guide.

Understanding the Brain

Understanding the Brain iconTo grasp how a traumatic brain injury can impact one’s life, you should know how a healthy brain works. When you understand how a healthy brain works, you can understand how an injury disrupts the brain’s ability to work that way.

The brain is by far the most complex organ in the human body. It is the home of millions of different nerve cells. These nerve cells are responsible for regulating your emotions, thoughts, sensations, movements, perception and behavior. A system of nerves within your body connects your brain to the rest of your body.

Four lobes within the brain are responsible for different tasks, as the Mayo Clinic explains. These four lobes are:

  • Frontal lobe – This is where thinking, planning and organizing occurs. The frontal lobe also controls logic, short-term memory, problem solving and movement.
  • Parietal lobe – When you touch, smell, hear or taste something, this part of your brain interprets that information and makes sense of it.
  • Occipital lobe – When you see something, this part of your brain makes sense of the image and allows you to store the image within your memory.
  • Temporal lobe – This gives us the ability to comprehend different sounds, including speech. It also allows us to organize verbal material.

Your brain contains two other important parts:

  • Cerebellum – It is located at the base of the skull. It is responsible for coordinating muscular activity.
  • Prefrontal cortex – It is located at the front of the skull. It controls many things, including logic, reason, analysis, decision making and emotional control.

The brain regulates nearly everything in the body – thoughts, sensations, personality, movement and more. For this reason, any disturbance to any part of the brain can have a significant impact one’s ability to function in a normal way.

How Does a TBI Impact the Brain?

The effect of TBI on a person depends on two factors:

  • Type – Where the injury occurred and the nature of the injury.
  • Level – The extent, or severity, of the injury.

Let’s start by looking at types of brain injuries.

Types of Traumatic Brain Injury

The Brain Injury Alliance of Utah describes the following as being the most common types of brain injuries:

Contusion – Bleeding within the brain. It can occur when the head is struck by an object or strikes into a fixed object. It may result in memory loss, attention problems, emotional problems and inability to understand or express speech and thoughts. It can also challenge one’s motor control.

Concussion – A short loss of normal brain function due to a penetration injury, direct blow to the head, whiplash or other violent shaking of the head. It may result in seizures, vomiting, nausea and loss of motor abilities. Further, it can also have emotional and cognitive effects that cause emotional disturbances, confusion and memory and concentration problems.

Diffuse Axonal – Brain swelling and coma caused by lesions in the brain. It is typically caused by severe shaking of the brain or disturbance by a rotational force. It commonly occurs in car accidents. The most common symptom is unconsciousness. This injury type can also result in death.

Coup-contrecoup – Where both sides of the brain, at opposite ends of the skull, sustain damage. Typically, this injury occurs when the force of impact is so great at one side of the brain that the brain is forced against the opposing side of the skull. A contusion against the opposite side of the brain is the result. It can impair memory, coordination, swallowing, balance, muscular abilities, and sensation.

Penetration – Where an object penetrates through the skull and brain, damaging the organ. A sharp object, knife or bullet may all cause these injuries. The effects vary greatly. It may slightly affect cognitive abilities, or it may be severe enough to cause a person to enter a comatose state.

Levels of Traumatic Brain Injury

A victim can suffer one of three levels of traumatic brain injury. These levels are:

Mild – This is the least worrisome brain injury level. The victim often is expected to make a full recovery. According to the Mayo Clinic, the signs and symptoms of mild TBI include:

mild TBI symptoms

Moderate or Severe – These levels are characterized by many of the signs and symptoms above. Additionally, one with this level of TBI may experience:

moderate or severe TBI symptoms

Understanding the Glasgow Coma Scale

The Glasgow Coma Scale is often used to determine the severity of traumatic brain injury from which a person is suffering. The scale has three sections:

  • Eye-opening response (highest score you can reach is 4)
  • Verbal response (highest score is 5)
  • Motor response (highest score is 6).

The highest total score a patient can receive is 15. This score indicates spontaneous eye opening response, orientation to time and place and ability to obey motor commands. It indicates mild TBI.

The lowest score is 3. This score indicates no eye opening response, no verbal response and no motor response. A patient with this score may be totally unresponsive, suffering from severe TBI. The patient may be in a vegetative state and face the risk of death.

A score of 8 is a moderate score, but it still may indicate a comatose state.

How Common Are Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Traumatic brain injuries contribute to roughly 30 percent of all injury deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Consider the following additional facts which point to the prevalence of TBI:

  • In a single recent decade, the rates of TBI-related emergency room visits increased by 70 percent.
  • In one year alone, approximately 248,418 children went to emergency departments in the U.S. with sports-related brain injuries.
  • In another year, traumatic brain injuries contributed to the deaths of more than 50,000 people.

Traumatic brain injuries often result from slip and fall accidents, sports injuries and car accidents. Brain injuries can also occur during the birthing process when the fetus is deprived of oxygen, or during a near-drowning accident, when one’s oxygen supply to the brain is cut off.

TBI can occur in a variety of other accidents types as well. It is simply possible whenever the brain is hit or otherwise impacted.

How Does TBI Impact Children?

For children, the signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury may be slightly different than they are for adults. They include:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting
  • Crying
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of interest in toys
  • Changes in personality
  • Changes in eating habits or nursing

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, brain injuries in children present unique issues. This is because a child’s brain – unlike an adult brain – is not fully formed. It is still developing and maturing. So, a child with TBI may suffer longer and more severe consequences than an adult.

The child’s impairments may not be obvious at first. But as the child grows and develops, he or she may demonstrate physical, cognitive, emotional and behavior problems, including:

  • Physical challenges
  • Inappropriate social behavior
  • Trouble learning or retaining new information.

How Does TBI Impact the Elderly?

4-eTraumatic brain injuries also present unique complications when incurred by an elderly adult. In persons ages 65 and older, TBI is responsible for more than 80,000 emergency room visits every year, according to the article, “Traumatic Brain Injury in Older Adults: Epidemiology, Outcomes, and Future Implications.”

The older the person, the less likely a positive TBI outcome: Adults ages 75 and older have the highest rates of TBI-related hospitalizations and deaths, according to the article. An older body and brain is less resilient and flexible.

Further, older adults are also at a higher risk of incurring TBI due to their proneness to slip and fall accidents, which are a leading cause of head and brain injuries among older persons.

Seeking Legal Help After Traumatic Brain Injury

justice iconUnderstanding your traumatic brain injury diagnosis and the effect that your TBI will have on your life can be difficult, emotional and challenging to do. A lawyer cannot reverse what has happened to you or change the past. However, a lawyer can work with you to improve your future.

When you contact an attorney, you should receive help from a team of experienced lawyers, legal assistants, investigators, experts and others. The attorney should immediately get to work on doing everything possible to build a strong case on your behalf.

Above all, a lawyer can help you to seek financial compensation for all losses and future losses related to your brain injury, helping you to receive the best care possible after sustaining a TBI.

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5 Understanding Your Treatment

brain injury treatment iconNo two traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients exhibit the same symptoms, limitations and/or disabilities – even if they suffered the injury in the same fashion. This fact can cause TBI patients and their families to get confused. A doctor may recommend specific treatment for you, and then recommend an entirely different type of treatment for another patient with TBI.

Treatment of TBI patients consists of both short-term medical care and long-term management of symptoms and effects related to the TBI. The treatment a patient receives is different from treatment for other injuries.

For instance, treatment of a broken bone or dislocated joint continues until the injury has healed or the patient won’t receive any benefit from continued treatment. If the patient “regresses” at the end of treatment, the patient may need to go through the same treatment again.

However, in treatment of TBI, a patient may regress at a much earlier stage. As a result, a patient may need multiple types and levels of treatment, according to the Brain Injury Association of America.

The Most Important Member of the Treatment Team – You and Your Family

Early in the course of treatment for your TBI injury, you and your family will meet with a team of:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Medical staff
  • Social support staff.

These medical professionals will assist you throughout the TBI recovery process. They are your “treatment team.” They will assist you in planning for and receiving appropriate care and treatment for your TBI. They should also be a resource for you and your family when you have questions or concerns about the treatment you are receiving.

Over time, members of your treatment team may come and go. However, you and your family are permanent – and important – members of your treatment team. You should participate in treatment team meetings as much as possible and convey:

  • You religious and personal beliefs
  • Questions and concerns
  • Opinions about you or your loved one’s treatment.

It is important for other team members to know and understand your needs, goals and wishes.

Even Treatment of Mild TBI Can Vary Between Patients

Mild traumatic brain injuries are those often sustained in minor auto accidents or in sports-related accidents. They are treated with first-aid, over-the-counter pain medications and rest. Most – not all – symptoms of a mild TBI fade with time. Few cases result in any lasting disabilities or limitations.

Patients, their families and their treatment team must be alert for signs that additional care or treatment may be necessary. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a list of warning signs for mild TBI. You and your family should review those signs and be on the lookout for them.

Emergency Treatment of Moderate and Severe TBI Patients

When a person first suffers a moderate or severe TBI, immediate medical treatment efforts and procedures must be conducted. A patient typically is taken to a major trauma center or hospital such as Rush University Medical Center.

Emergency treatment is focused on:

  • Resuscitating the TBI patient (if necessary)
  • Assessing the patient’s condition and scope of injuries
  • Addressing any life-threatening injuries or conditions
  • Stabilizing the patient’s condition
  • Monitoring the patient’s vital statistics and functions.

Acute treatment will likely be provided so as to minimize the chance of secondary injury and the need for life support. Build-up of pressure inside the skull is an example of a secondary injury.

Treatment team members that patients and their families may meet during this stage are:

  • Surgeons If the patient requires one or more surgeries. There will typically be a trauma surgeon who will act as the head of the treatment team and direct other medical personnel involved in providing emergency treatment.
  • Specialists – Neurosurgeons and/or orthopedic surgeons may be necessary depending on the type and severity of injuries.
  • Nursing staff They will provide additional care and support to the patient by assisting doctors and surgeons with medical procedures, monitoring the patient’s vital statistics and reporting any changes in the patient’s condition.
  • Psychologists, counselors and/or social workers They may be present to assist the patient and family by helping them to make important medical decisions.

These team members will also help the patient and family to understand the nature of the traumatic brain injury, further needed treatment and available long-term care options.

Rehabilitative Treatment of Moderate and Severe TBI Patients

Once a patient has achieved sufficient stabilization in the hospital or trauma center, he or she will likely be transferred to a rehabilitation center to continue treatment.

Here, there are two primary goals:

  • Minimize any further complications.
  • Help the patient recover functionality that was lost due to the injury.

The services provided by rehabilitation centers often consist of:

ongoing treatment for brain injuryOngoing medical treatment, observation, and management of symptoms
The center will continue to monitor the patient’s recovery from a surgery and consumption of medication. The patient will receive preventative care designed to prevent the occurrence of any secondary infections or injuries. If the patient’s medical condition deteriorates, he or she may be returned to a hospital or trauma center for evaluation and treatment.

psychology iconRehabilitation therapy
Psychologists, psychiatrists and nursing staff will work with the patient to assist him or her in better understanding his or her TBI and the limitations he or she may face as a result.

Staff will help the patient with overcoming or adjusting to balance and stability difficulties, difficulty in standing or walking, trouble talking or communicating+ and other similar limitations.

The family of the TBI patient will also be involved and will be advised of any temporary or permanent limitations the patient will have and how this will impact the long-term care of the patient.

For example, if a TBI patient will have permanent difficulty in balancing and walking, staff may discuss with family members the need to obtain a cane for the patient and/or a ramp at home to assist the patient in entering and leaving.

therapy iconOccupational therapy
Depending on the patient’s unique circumstances, therapy staff will also assist the patient in relearning activities of daily living such as cooking, dressing one’s self and balancing his or her checkbook. Being able to relearn these skills will assist the patient in maintaining a greater amount of independence once he or she transitions to a long-term care environment.

Once the patient has received services and benefits from the rehabilitation center, the patient is ready to be moved to his or her long-term care solution.

Centers like the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago often describe their services as helping the patient to “re-enter” the community.

However, this does not mean that the services of the rehabilitation treatment team are finished. A TBI patient may return to a rehabilitation center on an outpatient basis to continue receiving therapy. These services can also be provided in patient’s home or long-term living arrangement.

Long-Term Treatment of Moderate and Severe TBI Patients

Long-term treatment of TBI patients is focused primarily on:

  • Management of any symptoms or limitations the patient may experience
  • Assist patient in living as independently as possible.

The TBI victim may transition from one long-term care facility or location to another throughout the patient’s lifetime as his or her condition improves or deteriorates.

During this phase of treatment, the patient and his or her family are crucial players in the patient’s recovery.

Before reaching this point, medical and rehabilitative professionals should have assisted the patient and his or her family in understanding the nature of the TBI and the limitations he or she can expect to experience throughout his or her lifetime.

Social workers and others will also have been working with the patient’s family throughout treatment to help the family plan for the patient’s long-term care.

Long-term care may be provided at:

home iconHome – Ideally, the patient will be able to live either at his or her own home or at home with a family member. Even when living at home, the patient may continue to receive assistive services from in-home care providers on a part-time or full-time basis.

A number of factors can determine whether living at home is a possibility for TBI patients, including:

  • Financial resources
  • Severity of limitations
  • Disability of the patient
  • Physical capabilities of the family to assist the patient.

home insurance iconIndependent living facilities – These transition centers. They are for patients who may be able to live independently in the near future but still require additional support and therapy. These facilities offer residents different levels of therapy and assistance depending on a patient’s need.

nursing home iconSkilled nursing homes or residential facilities – These are more intensive long-term settings. They may be necessary for patients with TBI that has resulted in the loss of a great deal of functionality. The patient may be unable to make significant gains at a rehabilitation facility.

Patients in these facilities continue to receive rehabilitative therapy. Some may not be able to live independently or in a home setting due to the level of medical care and monitoring they would need.

Management of symptoms may last for the remainder of the patient’s life. It is important for the TBI patient and his or her family to continue participating and communicating with the patient’s treatment team so that prompt and appropriate action can be taken if there is any change or deterioration.

Questions: The Key to Understanding Your TBI Treatment

Most misunderstandings and ill feelings that develop among the patient, family and treatment team occur because:

  • The treatment team fails to explain to the patient and his or her family what they can expect in the short- and long-term treatment; and/or
  • The patient and family fail to indicate their confusion and lack of understanding to the treatment team.

To be an informed patient or family member and play an effective role in the patient’s recovery, it is important that you proactively ask questions about what your treatment team is recommending when you do not understand the proposed course of treatment. Ask your treatment team:

  • Why is this course of treatment recommended? What is its rate of success? Is this an experimental procedure? What does “success” look like, if this course of treatment is successful?
  • What alternative courses of treatment are available? What are the benefits and drawbacks of these alternative courses of treatment? Did you consider any of these alternatives?
  • What is reasonable to expect in terms of the patient’s recovery? Are my or my family’s expectations unreasonable and, if so, why? What permanent or long-term limitations or disabilities may the patient have?

When TBI has been caused by the negligent or other wrongful conduct of another, a lawyer who is experienced in handling TBI personal injury claims can play an important role in making sure that a patient receives the care and treatment that is needed for as close to a full recovery as possible.

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6 How Can a Lawyer Help You?

a judge's galvelBeing involved in an accident where a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is sustained is a life-changing event. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that a TBI has the potential to affect thinking, sensation, language and emotion.

In some cases, the effects of TBI are permanent. A person who has suffered from a TBI may:

  • Be unable to remember certain events or facts
  • Experience severe personality changes
  • Be disabled to the point of being unable to hold a job.

Suffering a traumatic brain injury is also scary, painful and expensive. Victims often incur huge medical costs. They may develop post-traumatic stress disorder as well.

While some traumatic brain injuries heal relatively quickly with minimal medical intervention, others may require years’ worth of therapy and medical treatment.

While doing so may be difficult, one of the best things that you can do to improve the chances of a brighter future is to call an attorney as soon as possible after being involved in an accident that results in a TBI.

A personal injury attorney can help you to understand all of the costs associated with a traumatic brain injury, your rights as a traumatic brain injury victim, the role of an attorney and how to file your claim.

Understanding the Costs of a Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury is one of the most costly injuries that a person can sustain in terms of both actual economic losses as well as emotional and intangible losses. A person who suffers from a TBI may incur hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of medical bills, lose his or her ability to return to work and may suffer from loss of enjoyment of life. Some of the most common costs that are associated with a traumatic brain injury include:

hospital iconHospital stays – Staying in the hospital is incredibly unaffordable, particularly for those who do not have health insurance. gov reports that the average cost of a three-day hospital stay is approximately $30,000. If a person has to be hospitalized for three weeks for a TBI, then the cost of the hospital stay alone is likely to be around $210,000. This is excluding the cost of transportation to the hospital, assuming that emergency services such as an ambulance were used.

medical treatment iconMedical treatment, surgeries, and medications – It is not just the cost of staying within the hospital that is excessive. Any surgeries, treatments or medications that a person undergoes can also total into the thousands of dollars. A surgery on the brain, if necessary, can cost more than $100,000 in itself.
Future rehabilitation – Upfront medical expenses and future treatments can be costly. A person who has suffered from a TBI may require ongoing treatment or therapy. The person may even require around-the-clock care from a home health care aid in extreme cases.

clipboard and heart rateLost wages and benefits – Outside of medical care, a worker may suffer economic losses in the form of lost wages and lost benefits. This is because a TBI can prevent an individual from returning to his or her place of employment while healing from the brain injury. It may even permanently prevent the individual from earning an income again. This can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost earnings and benefits. It can create concerns about how the worker will pay for his or her costs of living and expenses.

noneconomic losses iconNoneconomic losses – The costs associated with a TBI are not purely economic in nature. A person who suffers a traumatic brain injury may suffer intangible losses and harm as well. This includes things like physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life. While putting a monetary value on these things can be more difficult to do, a person deserves to be compensated for all of his or her losses.

Your Rights as a TBI Victim

compensation iconOne of the most confusing parts about suffering from a traumatic brain injury is what to do in the aftermath, particularly when it comes to recovering money to pay for all of the losses highlighted above.

You may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages if your TBI would not have occurred but for the negligent actions of another person.

In a civil action against the at-fault party, you will have to prove:

  • The party owed you a duty of care or that a special relationship existed between you and the defendant (i.e. consumer and manufacturer, pedestrian and driver, property owner and invitee).
  • The defendant violated the duty of care owed to you by acting negligently.
  • The negligence was the direct cause of your injuries.

Negligence is defined as the failure to take proper care in doing something, and is arguably the most important part of a personal injury claim. Negligence is also one of the most difficult components to prove.

An attorney can help you to understand what negligence is and how to prove it. For example:

A property owner has a legal duty to maintain his or her property in a safe and hazard-free condition and to remedy any known hazards on the property in a timely manner. If your accident resulting in a TBI occurred because of a slip and fall on another’s property, in which the slip and fall would not have occurred but for a hazardous condition on the property, then negligence of the property owner has occurred.

Another example of negligence is driving unsafely such as driving at an unsafe speed, driving while distracted, driving while intoxicated or aggressive driving. If unsafe (or negligent) driving was the cause of your accident resulting in a TBI, the negligent driver should be liable for the losses you have suffered.

In Illinois, you must file your civil action against the at-fault party within two years’ time from the date that your TBI was incurred. If you do not file your civil action within this time frame, you will be permanently barred from filing your action at all.

Filing a civil action may seem unnecessary or excessive, but it is often the best — and the only — way to recover the money to which you are entitled.

Filing a personal injury lawsuit can help you to obtain the money that you need for the following damages:

  • Disability/loss of a normal life
  • Shortened life expectancy
  • Pain and suffering (past and future)
  • Emotional distress (past and future)
  • Medical expenses (past and future)
  • Loss of earnings or profits
  • Loss of future earning
  • Caretaking expenses and necessary help
  • Any damage to personal property.

Recovering money for the items above can be essential to supporting yourself and your family and affording the healthcare that you need.

Your family may also suffer losses as a direct result of your traumatic brain injury such as loss of emotional support, household services or income. Your attorney can also advocate for your family members and seek a recovery of a settlement amount that addresses their losses as well.

In the event that a TBI results in death, an attorney can aid surviving family members in filing a wrongful death claim.

The Role of Your Lawyer

One of the biggest mistakes that personal injury victims make is failing to get help from a lawyer. This may be because they believe that lawyers are too expensive and unaffordable. However, as you will find, you can afford a lawyer. More importantly, your lawyer can play a key role in your personal injury claim, including:

Conducting a thorough investigation – Proving negligence is one of the most important parts of a personal injury claim. To prove negligence, conducting a thorough investigation into how the accident occurred is essential.

Consulting with experts – Part of an investigation and understanding how a TBI happened is consulting with accident reconstruction experts and others such as medical experts. Your attorney, who is experienced in personal injury law, will have access and relationships with important experts.

filing claims iconFiling claims – Usually, filing a claim with an insurance company is the first step in the recovery process. However, in some cases, a settlement cannot be reached. Your attorney will be responsible for filing your claim in a timely and accurate manner in the proper court.

settlement iconNegotiating a settlement amount One of the most important roles that a personal injury attorney serves is the role of negotiator. When you file a claim, it is likely that the other party will try to settle. Unfortunately, settlement offers are often much lower than you really deserve. While you may be tempted to accept whatever you can get, your personal injury attorney will be responsible for advising you and seeking an offer that more accurately addresses your losses.

trial iconGoing to trial – Not all personal injury claims are settled out of court. When a settlement cannot be reached, your attorney may suggest that you take your claim to trial. During the trial, your attorney will be responsible for building your case and proving why you deserve the compensation you are seeking.

liens iconResolving liens and structuring a settlement – The hospital may file a lien against you when you have incurred high medical bills. Your attorney can help you to resolve any liens attached to a recovery and ensure that you get your funds within a timely fashion. Further, an attorney can also help you to structure a settlement to ensure that your future needs are met.

key information iconProviding key information – Finally, your attorney serves an important role as the person who is responsible for providing you with all the information that you need to know about personal injury law, your rights as a victim and the claims process.

About Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C.

The attorneys at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. have achieved a record of success when it comes to advocating for victims of personal injury cases. Since the firm was founded, more than $975 million in verdicts and settlements have been secured on the behalf of victims of personal injuries, including 210 cases that recovered $1 million or more. Many of our settlements or verdicts have yielded damages greater than $10 million.

Your first consultation with us is always free, and there is never any obligation to hire us after we meet. Further, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that we do not charge you any money unless your case is successful. If we successfully recover a settlement or verdict on your behalf, then our fee is based on a percentage of that recovery amount. If we do not recover a settlement or verdict on your behalf, we do not get paid, either.

If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury because of another person’s negligence, we encourage you to take action today to start the recovery process.

At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., we want to meet with you as soon as possible. You can call our offices today or use our online form to contact us and request your free case consultation now.

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7 How to Live with TBI

smiley face iconWhen you have been the victim of an accident resulting in serious personal injury, it can take weeks, months and even years to fully comprehend the damages you have suffered. While you heal physically, you also heal emotionally as well. It takes time for you, your loved ones and your friends to adjust to this new set of circumstances.

Part of your recovery from a TBI is learning how to live with your condition and the potential implications this type of injury can have on many aspects of your life.

Recovery from TBI is possible. The more you and your loved ones understand about how to live with your injury, the easier it will be for you and them to deal to adjust to the new situation.

What Every Caregiver Needs To Know

caregiver iconTraumatic brain injuries affect both family and friends of the injured person. Caregivers, in particular, often require extra help and support in handling their new responsibilities.

According to the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAUSA), the demands of attending to an injured loved one can result in overwhelming feelings of depression, fear and anxiety.

After dealing with the shock and uncertainty of the early days in the immediate aftermath of the injury, you will likely get a better idea of the extent of damage caused by the traumatic brain injury and the limitations the injured person will face during recovery.

Doctors, nurses and hospital staff will provide care for your injured loved one while you are hospitalized. Once you get home, these responsibilities will fall on you.

According to the BIAUSA, people with traumatic brain injuries often become irritable and depressed once they are at home and realize they can no longer function the way they did prior to their injuries.

As a caregiver, providing structure in the injured person’s daily activities can help fend off negative feelings and provide a pattern and purpose for the day.

To provide this structure, the BIAUSA recommends taking these steps:

care iconBe knowledgeable about their condition – Know what your loved one can and cannot do by being closely involved with both the doctor and his or her rehabilitation appointments. As tempting as it may be to use this time for personal pursuits, at these appointments, you will gain valuable information that can help you care for your loved one.

living space iconPlan living space accordingly – Plan the room the injured person will stay in so that he or she can be as independent as possible. Due to the injury, your loved one will likely have problems with memory. So, place stickers on drawers labeling their contents and use labeled trays and dividers on the nightstand to hold personal items such as a wallet and glasses. You may want to make up cue cards describing the steps to performing certain activities such as using the television remote.

schedule iconProvide structure in their day – Structure is crucial to avoid frustration, boredom and loneliness. Set up a schedule for the injured person and keep it filled with activities. Perform certain tasks at the same time each day and write down tasks and activities in a place where your loved one can see them.

checkbox iconProvide prompts – Use verbal and written prompts to keep them on task and remind them of appointments or activities they will be participating in each day.

reminder iconGive cues and reminders – Use plenty of lists, post-it notes and cue cards for personal reminders such as what time dinner is or when to take medicines. You can also scatter pictures and positive messages throughout the room to keep his or her spirits up.

Dealing with Depression

depression iconIn facing the sometimes drastic changes that result from a traumatic brain injury, feelings of depression are not uncommon., a national information resource on preventing and treating traumatic brain injuries, states that post-TBI depression can occur in the days immediately after an injury has occurred and last for weeks and even months if left untreated.
Depression, in general, is characterized by overwhelming feelings of sadness, hopelessness or despair. The serious cognitive, emotional and physical disturbances that are common in the aftermath of a TBI can easily cause a depressive episode to occur.

People who have suffered traumatic brain injuries may be depressed over the effects of their injury and its impact on their quality of life. Depression often occurs as an emotional reaction to a new set of circumstances and limitations on the person’s activities. It can also be a chemical reaction occurring as a result of changes in the brain or body. advises that it is also common for depression to occur as the result of post-traumatic stress, in which the person experiences frightening and realistic flashbacks to the accident which caused the injury. recommends treating depression early – before it becomes pathological. The resource also advises family members and friends of the injured person to be alert for the following signs of depression:

  • Lack of concentration and slowed movements
  • Decreased energy and feeling lethargic
  • Loss of desire in participating in social functions, activities or hobbies
  • Withdrawing from other people and retreating into isolation
  • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Feelings of hopelessness and despair
  • Suicidal and self-destructive thoughts and actions.

According to, one of the first steps in treating depression is acknowledging its existence. It is important to realize that it is only natural to feel unhappy or sad over a TBI, and the limitations and changes that occur as a result.

Depression is not a sign of weakness. It is not something to be ashamed of, either. Begin by attempting to make small changes in attitude and behavior.

You can help a person suffering from depression related to TBI by helping them to set up a routine, encouraging them to stay involved in interests and activities and encouraging them to get support from others by sharing their feelings.

A depression that lingers may require more aggressive treatment. Speak with your doctor about the types of help available that can make a difference in alleviating depression and its symptoms. Physical activity such as taking walks and doing yoga can help. Meditation is therapeutic as well in treating depression. In severe cases, you may want to consult with your family doctor about prescribing antidepressant medications.

What Others Have Experienced

dizzyness iconIf you have suffered a TBI, it is important to realize you are not alone. According to the Brain Injury Association of Illinois (Association), more than 1.5 million people suffer TBI each year as the result of accidental injuries.

These injuries occur as the result of a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, which disrupts the normal flow and processes of the brain – often resulting in a diminished or even altered form of consciousness. The Association states that the most common causes of TBI are motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries and violence.

While every brain injury is different, certain problems associated with TBI are common. The Association lists the following common impacts of TBI, which vary depending on the nature and severity of your injury:

  • Cognitive – These types of impairments include problems with processing thoughts, memory loss and impaired judgment and reasoning.
  • Physical – The physical ramifications of TBI commonly include headaches, balance problems, muscle spasms and seizures.
  • Emotional – Emotional disturbances caused by TBI may include dramatic mood swings, depression, increased irritation, anxiety, impulsive and potentially dangerous behaviors and bouts of anger.

Connecting with others in the same situation and hearing their experiences with TBI not only helps sufferers better understand their own injuries and how to deal with them. It can help their family members and caregivers as well.

The Association offers resources for people with brain injuries and their families throughout Illinois. It also offers opportunities for those affected throughout the Chicago and Waukegan areas to connect with other TBI sufferers.

The Association has support groups in which TBI sufferers, their families and caregivers can share their experiences. It also provides a calendar of events and activities available within the local community and information on the latest research and tools for living with TBI.

Current Technology for TBI

megaphone iconIn recent years, there has been increased public awareness regarding traumatic brain injuries and their impacts on the millions of people who sustain these types of injuries each year.

As awareness has increased, so has the number and variety of technological devices available to help make living with and recovering from TBI easier.

According to, assistive technology devices can help people who have suffered a TBI to be more involved and fully engaged in day-to-day life.

While an assistive device may be something as simple as a calendar or a set of post-it notes, there are new technological devices which can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to live with and recover from TBI. offers a list of some of the latest high-tech assistive devices, which include the following:

  • Computer voice recognition and screen enlargement programs to help people with visual impairments
  • Educational aids such as book holders, automatic page turners and pencil grips to assist students in classrooms
  • Lightweight wheelchairs designed specifically for sports and recreational activities
  • Personal digital assistant devices to help with cognitive as well as physical functions such as dispensing medication.

In addition to the above, recently released phone applications highlighted on assist people with TBI through the use of their iPhone, iPad or Android device. Voice recorders, dictation devices, transcribers, interactive calendars and note pads all help people with TBI communicate more effectively and keep track of daily tasks while a variety of memory and naming games can help increase visual and cognitive skills.

Coping Strategies

Learning to live with the changes that result from traumatic brain injuries often means adapting to new ways of doing everyday tasks and activities, while also learning to celebrate successes both large and small.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a number of different ways to cope with the changes brought about by TBI, including:

doctor iconGet support – Talk to your doctor or contact the resources listed above to see about joining a support group. Talking with others in the same situation offers inspiration and encouragement as well as practical tips for dealing with problems or difficulties.

checklist iconKeep things consistent and orderly – Follow a daily schedule and keep things organized to reduce confusion and frustration. Repetition is important. So, repeat names, review instructions and use the same routes for going to the doctor or store.

task list iconAlter your expectations – Allow more time to complete tasks and realize that there are some things that may be beyond your reach at the moment. Take breaks. Arrange your time so that you can rest between activities to avoid mistakes or becoming overwhelmed.

focus iconTry to stay focused – Limit your attention to one task at a time and avoid background distractions such as the television or radio.

Remember that whether you are dealing with the effects of TBI or taking care of someone who has been injured, recovery takes time. If you have suffered a TBI, go easy on yourself and others, allow extra time for doing things and give yourself credit for the small successes each day.

By staying positive, you will be better able to cope with your situation and stand a better chance of making a good recovery.

Contact an Illinois Personal Injury Attorney

If you or someone you love has suffered a traumatic brain injury, contact Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. We understand the serious ramifications resulting from these injuries. We can advise you on how to seek the compensation you need to recover. Serving clients throughout the Chicago and Waukegan areas, we are here to help. Call or contact us online today for a free consultation and personal review of your case.


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8 TBI Resources and FAQs

inquiry iconFacing your recovery from a traumatic brain injury can be overwhelming. If you are currently suffering from a TBI, or if you are caring for a loved one who is suffering from this type of injury, you can make it easier for yourself to understand TBI and the care your loved one will need by working through chunks of information and available resources one piece at a time.

By breaking down the seemingly endless amount of information you find into smaller, digestible pieces, you can understand each on a deeper level and develop an appropriate plan to handle each TBI-related issue that crops up during your or your loved one’s recovery.

Resources & Services for TBI Victims in Illinois

A wide variety of resources and services are available for TBI victims in Illinois. Some of these are fairly general resources that can provide aid to all TBI victims. Others are more specific in their offerings, providing aid and information to individuals in specific situations such as individuals suffering from an injury sustained in the line of duty or an individual who is tasked with caring for a loved one with a TBI.

Below are some of these resources and services available to individuals in Illinois who are suffering from TBI:

Caregiver Action Network (CAN)Caregiver Action Network logo – CAN provides caregivers with resources like peer support and education to make it easier to care for loved ones suffering from TBI and other conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Currently, more than 90 million Americans act as caregivers to their loved ones. Since 1993, CAN has provided the care and support that these caregivers frequently do not receive.

The Brain Injury Association of IllinoisThe Brain Injury Association of Illinois logo – This organization is a non-profit organization that exists as part of a larger national network of associations that help TBI victims and their loved ones. Since 1980, the Association has worked to advocate for TBI victims and those caring for them by facilitating conferences and other educational opportunities, working with legislators to pass legislation to help TBI victims, hosting retreats and camps for children and adults suffering from brain injuries and promoting the research of brain injuries and their treatment.

BrainLineBrainLine logo – This is an online project by WETA, the public TV and radio station of Washington, D.C., which provides individuals across the country with information about TBI. BrainLine’s efforts to educate the public and advocate for TBI victims include an e-newsletter, weekly webcasts and partnerships with other national organizations devoted to promoting TBI research and advocating for victims.

Latest in TBI Research

We learn more about traumatic brain injuries every year. Some recent research includes:

  • Four Distinct Patterns of Symptoms in Military TBI Victims – In the January/February 2016 edition of The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation – the official journal of the Brain Injury Association of America – new research conducted by Jason M. Bailie of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center was published. In this study, Bailie and his team found four specific subtypes of TBI symptoms in veterans suffering from mild TBIs sustained in combat. These findings could lead to more individualized types of treatment for TBIs.
  • Long-term Cognitive, Emotional, and Behavioral Problems Faced by TBI Victims – PsychCentral published a piece about recent research by Dr. Torun Gangaune Finnanger at the Trondheim University Hospital in Norway that examined the self-reported challenges faced by moderate and severe TBI victims in the years after their accidents. The research found that, compared to healthy individuals, TBI victims suffered more psychological and emotional difficulties. The younger an individual was when his or her accident occurred, the more likely he or she was to engage in risky, rule-breaking behavior after the TBI.
  • Bubbles Lead to Trauma in the Brain – Student Science recently reported on Christian Franck of Brown University’s presentation of his findings about the bubbles created in brain tissue by the vibrations of severe impact to the annual meeting of the American Physical Society’s division of fluid dynamics. His team hypothesizes that these bubbles are what creates damage to the brain that results in a TBI following a traumatic impact. Understanding what causes TBI damage can help the medical industry find a way to prevent TBIs.

TBI Support Groups in Illinois

A TBI is an injury that changes a patient’s life, sometimes for the rest of his or her life. Facing such a monumental change can leave an individual and his or her caregiver feeling powerless and alone. TBI sufferers and their caregivers can find solace and support in groups like those listed below.

Stroke/Brain Injury Support Group of the Bloomington-Normal AreaStroke/Brain Injury Support Group logo – Since 2007, this support group has helped individuals in the Bloomington, Illinois, area to work through the issues they face as TBI and other brain injury victims. It is supported by the Central Illinois Neuroscience Foundation.

Brain Injury Group Foundation’s List of Support GroupsBrain Injury Group Foundation logo – This list contains links and contact information for TBI support groups throughout Illinois. It can be useful for individuals seeking a group in their geographical area or groups that fit into their schedule.


Advocate Christ Healthcare Support GroupsAdvocate Christ Healthcare Support Groups logo – Advocate Healthcare has a variety of support groups for individuals suffering from TBIs and other injuries. Advocate Healthcare also has multiple hospitals throughout Illinois, making it accessible to a large range of Illinois patients.

Military & TBI

According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), members of the military have a higher risk of suffering from a TBI than civilians. This is a unique concern for the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the federal agency tasked with providing healthcare coverage and support to veterans.

Active duty and reserve service members should be aware of the specific TBI risks they face, which can be different from the risks faced by civilians. Sources for information include:

Traumatic Brain Injury Overview ( Brain Injury Overview logo – This page describes the symptoms of a TBI, how one may suffer a TBI and what kind of VA coverage military veterans can receive for their TBI treatment. This page states that TBIs are known as the signature injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars due to the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) by opposing forces.

Veterans and Traumatic Brain Injury (Centre for Neuro Skills)Centre for Neuro Skills logo – This page provides links to resources that veterans suffering from TBIs may find useful such as TriCare and the S. Department of Defense Military Health System. It also has links to relevant videos for veterans seeking treatment.

netReal Warriors logo – This resource provides active duty military members, veterans, families and health care providers with quality information about TBIs tailored to how they affect individuals involved with the US military. It also provides links to other valuable resources.

Kids & TBI

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, the two age groups most at risk of suffering TBIs are ages 0-4 and 15-19. Every year, an estimated 564,000 American children are examined in emergency room settings for TBI.

Although falls, car accidents and sports injuries are all accidents that can cause a child to suffer a TBI, approximately 1,300 children suffer this type of injury as a result of child abuse every year. You can learn more about how TBIs can affect children and their parents with these resources:

Traumatic Brain Injury (Center for Parent Information and Resources)Centre for Parent Information and Resources logo – This page discusses the story of Susan, a seven-year-old girl who suffered a TBI when she was hit by a car while riding her bicycle. Although she appears normal, she continues to suffer from cognitive impairments as a result of the accident. This page goes on to discuss what TBIs are, how they are treated and how a parent can seek help for his or her child.

Issues Associated with Pre-School Child Traumatic Brain Injury (International Brain Injury Association)International Brain Injury Association logo – This study discusses the difficulties present in assessing a young child’s TBI because of the lack of information regarding the child’s normal behavior and developmental potential from before the injury. Issues like changed parental behavior following an injury, potential developmental delays caused by a TBI and plasticity level of a child’s brain when compared to an adult’s and how that may affect a child’s recovery are discussed.

Traumatic Brain Injury (Project IDEAL)Project Ideal logo – This page discusses how TBIs affect a child’s ability to learn in a classroom setting. It also goes over how teachers can help the students by understanding the challenges they face.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials for new medicines and other types of treatment for TBIs are conducted every year. For some TBI patients, participating in a clinical trial is a great way to earn some money and further the current body of knowledge about treating this type of injury. Check out these sources to learn more about clinical trials:

CenterWatch List of Current TrialsCenter Watch logo – This list contains the clinical trials that are currently recruiting participants by state. Check back regularly to see if there are any clinical trials in Illinois that are in need of patients with your qualifications.

TBI-CT NetworkNIH logo – The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development maintains this page about the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinical Trials (TBI-CT) Network. This network lists universities that conduct clinical trials for TBI treatment as well as information about participating in one.

Mayo ClinicMayo Clinic logo – Another great place to find ongoing clinical TBI trials is the Mayo Clinic’s website. Beyond this list, the website offers comprehensive guides to a variety of injury types, including TBIs.


More Information About TBI

After reviewing some of the links above, you might still want more information about TBIs. Use the following links to find the information you are seeking and gain a different perspective on some of the issues that have been covered above.

CDC TBI FactsheetCDC logo – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists numerous links to reports to Congress and fact sheets regarding TBIs and their treatment.


National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness MonthStony Brook School of Medicine logo – September is TBI Awareness Month, as discussed in this blog post from the Stony Brook School of Medicine. The blog post covers ways to prevent a TBI and ways to recognize the symptoms of one.

Brain Injury Toolbox Video LibraryBrain Injury Toolbox logo – The Brain Injury Toolbox provides links to multiple videos that help TBI victims and caregivers by showing what it is like to live with this type of injury and how to seek help. This organization promotes healthy recovery from TBIs and provides information for patients.

Prevention Tips

There are a few ways you can prevent a traumatic brain injury. Keep the following in mind to lower your risk of suffering this type of injury:

  • Always wear a helmet when riding a skateboard, bicycle, motorcycle, roller blades, or any other type of wheeled vehicle that does not have a protective chassis.
  • Wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a car.
  • Wear a helmet when engaging in sports like football or hockey.
  • Have your child sit in an age-appropriate child seat when riding in a car.
  • Make sure all carpets in your home are firmly in place and wires are not simply out in the open, posing a tripping hazard.
  • Place a non-slip pad inside your bathtub to prevent slipping, especially for older individuals. Also consider installing a grab bar in an older relative’s shower and bathroom in case he or she suffers a fall.

Frequently Asked Questions About TBI

How is the severity of a TBI determined?

Health care professionals use several ways to determine whether a victim’s injury is mild, moderate or severe. These ways include:

  • Glasgow Coma Scale – Measures responsiveness to behavioral stimuli
  • Glasgow Outcome Scale – Measures likelihood of making a full recovery at various points in his or her treatment
  • Rancho Los Amigos Scale – Measures consciousness and receptiveness.

Sometimes, these scales are used together to get a fuller picture of a patient’s injury.

How long does it take to recover from a TBI?

This really depends on the severity of your injury. In most cases, the bulk of the patient’s recovery happens within six months after starting treatment, according to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. A victim’s condition may continue to improve for up to two years and sometimes beyond two years following treatment. For many TBI patients, recovery beyond this initial healing period is primarily the relearning of skills rather than physical changes within the body.

What are the most common causes of TBI?

According to, the most common causes of TBIs are falls, assaults, car accidents and strikes by objects. Nearly one-fifth of TBIs result from other causes, including sports injuries and blasts suffered by active duty military members. The most common causes of TBIs for child victims are the same as the most common causes for adult victims.

Does my age, sex or race affect my likelihood of suffering a TBI?

According to, men are at a higher risk of suffering from TBIs than women. This can be attributed to the fact that men are more likely to work in physically demanding environments and to be members of the military. Children ages 0-4 and 15-19 and adults over the age of 65 are also at a higher risk of suffering this type of injury than other age groups. Although race does not play a factor in how frequently TBIs occur, African-Americans die as a result of TBI more frequently than other races.

Can I die from a TBI?

It is possible for a TBI victim to die shortly after his or her accident or in the weeks or months following the accident, depending on the severity of his or her injury and the level of care he or she receives. This is why it is important to seek a doctor’s care as soon as you can after you are involved in an accident, whether you think you are suffering from an injury or not.

Why is TBI called an invisible injury?

You might have heard TBI referred to as an “invisible injury.” This is because the symptoms of a TBI are not physical. In many cases, they are not obvious to those around the victim or even to the victim. Symptoms can include blurred vision, dizziness, confusion, trouble sleeping and difficulty with paying attention to tasks or recalling memories. However, this does not mean that a TBI cannot be a potentially life-altering injury.

Is a vegetative state the same as a coma?

A vegetative state is not the same as a coma. According to WebMD, a coma is a prolonged state of unconsciousness in which an individual is not responsive to stimuli. A vegetative state is a state of minimal consciousness. The patient might react to little stimuli but be unable to speak or move. Sometimes, patients can come out of a coma or vegetative state with medical treatment. In other cases, a patient recovers from a coma to a vegetative state but does not progress beyond this point.

Is a concussion a type of TBI?

Yes, a concussion is a mild type of traumatic brain injury. Unlike other types of TBI, brain imaging is not necessary to diagnose a concussion. Concussion patients need rest to make a recovery and might also benefit from over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-nausea drugs. Concussions are fairly common, according to the Mayo Clinic. Individuals who play contact sports such as football are at a heightened risk of suffering concussions.

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