Brain injuries: What everyone should know

A brain injury is one of the most devastating types of injuries anyone can suffer -- and most people have no idea exactly how common brain injuries really are.

In fact, brain injuries affect around 2.6 million people in the United States alone -- every single year. Many of those people will eventually recover -- but others will find their lives irrevocably changed. Some will need assistance for the rest of their lives with even basic tasks.

There are actually two different basic types of brain injuries. The first, called a traumatic brain injury (TBI), is caused by external forces. This is the kind of injury people incur when their head hits the dashboard in a car wreck, or they suffer a knock on the head during a fall. In these types of cases, the brain is injured either because it is violently shaken around inside the skull or the skull itself is damaged and unable to protect the brain.

The second type is called an acquired brain injury (ABI). This type of brain damage can occur after someone contracts an illness that causes their brain to swell and press against the skull, or they suffer a stroke. While most people don't think of a stroke as a type of brain injury, that's exactly what it causes.

Either type of brain injury can vary in location, effect and severity. Mild injuries are often associated with temporary problems -- the sort of headaches and confusion that can come from a blow to the head in a fist fight, for example. Most people recover well, with time, from even moderately severe brain injuries -- although about 15 percent of people will still struggle with the aftereffects of their injuries a year later. Severe brain injuries, however, usually leave the victim with long-term disabilities and personality changes.

The true tragedy is that many brain injuries are preventable. Brain injuries are often the result of negligence -- whether that's in the form of a careless driver who causes a car wreck or an emergency room doctor who ignores the signs that a patient is having a stroke. If you or your loved one suffered a catastrophic brain injury due to someone's negligent or reckless behavior, it's important to find out more about your right to compensation.

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Vincent J. DeSalvo, Attorney at Law
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