Unfortunately, brain injuries occur fairly frequently in Louisiana workers compensation claims, especially in automobile accidents and work-place falls.
Though many of these brain injuries can be minor concussion-type injuries, some brain injuries are often debilitating. Brain injuries can occur in people of all ages and sizes.
Traumatic brain injuries - otherwise know as TBIs - are injuries to the brain caused by an external force. TBIs occur when an employee's head is suddenly jolted or struck, and can result in serious brain damage.
Sadly, these traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can have have lifelong effects that require lifelong monitoring and treatment.
Nonetheless, brain injuries and TBIs can be sustained without being diagnosed. The injury may not even show up on an MRI, and the only real way to diagnose it is to monitor the employee and look for warning signs.
Symptoms of brain injuries and TBIs may become apparent immediately or may develop over a period of days or weeks. Often, the worst effects do not arrive until much later after the accident.
Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Symptoms of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Abnormal eye movements
- Balance or coordination problems
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Convulsions or seizures
- Depression or anxiousness
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Headaches that get worse or do not go away
- Inability to sleep
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Loss of consciousness
- Memory loss
- Mood changes or mood swings
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Ringing in the ears
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Slurred speech
- Spinning Sensations
- Weakness or numbness in the arms and legs
Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are either defined as open or closed. Open traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are also referred to as penetrating brain injuries.
An open (penetrating) head injury is one in which something breaks the scalp and skull and enters the brain. Thus, the skull becomes fractured or penetrated, and bits of bone, debris, or shrapnel can become imbedded in the brain tissue, causing further damage.
A closed brain injury is any injury that doesn't break the skull. Unfortunately, closed brain injuries can be much more deadly, since the brain absorbs most of the impact due to the fact that the skull is not fractured. These brain injuries can easily result in bruising and tearing of brain tissue and blood vessels, Also, closed brain injuries put the employee at a much higher risk for swelling and bleeding on the brain, which can result in blood clots, coma, and death.
Severity of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are evaluated by doctors based on the severity of the damage and symptoms the injured worker displays.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are evaluated by severity as:
- Moderate; or
This classification of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) is based on what's known as the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), which is a testing scale that assesses motor, verbal and eye-opening responses. The Glasgow Coma Scale runs from 3 to 15, where 3 is assigned to someone who is dead or comatose and 15 is normal. Someone with a mild traumatic brain injury generally has a GCS of 13–15.
Typically, the severity of a traumatic brain injury is based on:
- The results of a positive computed tomography scan (CT scan or CAT scan) showing brain bleeding, bruising, or swelling;
- The length of the loss or alteration of consciousness;
- The length of memory loss; and
- The level of responsiveness of an injured individual following the injury.
Mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs) are also known as concussions, and typically are more difficult to identify than severe TBIs, because there may not be observable head injury, even on a CT scan.
Often, symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs) are similar to symptoms from problems that occur following combat trauma, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Moderate or severe traumatic brain injuries can disable an individual for life, or could resolve eventually without any permanent side effects.
But if a traumatic brain injury is diagnosed as severe, it is likely that the injured individual will experience long term side effects, including the possibility of diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.