When a person experiences a brain injury, life immediately turns upside down. He will spend countless days, months and probably many years striving to establish a “new normal.” The family will work overtime as caregivers, not only helping him re-learn daily tasks and being emotionally supportive, but also stepping in to fulfill many of the duties he may no longer be able to perform.
Traumatic brain injuries present many challenges to everyone involved. They alter the cognitive, physical and psychological skills of the injured person, and they also bring great emotional and financial stress for the families of the injured.
Eric Ratinoff has represented brain injured clients and their families for over twenty years, and we understand the unique circumstances surrounding traumatic brain injuries. While every client experiences his or her injury differently, there are many common threads woven through each situation, and exceptional resources must be employed to restore normalcy in the brain injury survivor’s family.
The new daily reality that a brain injury creates can be extremely taxing for the injured person, his family and caregivers, and when the family is forced to pursue a brain injury lawsuit, life may seem even more complicated. But while a brain injury lawsuit is no walk in the park, having an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side as your advocate, guide and counselor will make all the difference. We’ve been down this road many times, and it is our honor and privilege to guide you through to the end.
Traumatic Brain Injuries and Concussions
Although the NFL and youth sports have made more people aware about the dangers of concussions, many people still do not realize that a concussion is, in fact, a brain injury. Just a single concussion can cause lasting brain damage, resulting in a condition often referred to as “post concussion syndrome.” Repeat concussions have shown to cause serious long term problems, resulting in a condition also referred to as “second impact syndrome.” In some cases, repeat concussions, even seemingly minor ones, have led to death.
While anyone can sustain a concussion following a serious car accident, a contact sport injury, whiplash, or any type of blow to the head, children are at a particularly high risk of concussion. According to a recent study published in the June 20 edition of Pediatrics, it is estimated that the number of concussions among those 18 years old and younger is between 1.1 million and 1.9 million annually.
Brain Injury Symptoms
While the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury vary depending on the extent of the injury and the area of the brain affected, the following symptoms may indicate that a brain injury has occurred. Some symptoms appear immediately; others may appear several days or even weeks later. Similarly, some symptoms disappear within a week or two, and others may remain for months, years, or indefinitely.
It’s also important to note that a person may or may not lose consciousness when experiencing a brain injury. Loss of consciousness is not always a sign of a severe TBI.
Signs of Traumatic Brain Injury
A person with moderate or severe TBI may also experience the above symptoms, while also showing signs of:
- Headache that gets worse or won’t go away
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Slurred speech
- Convulsions or seizures
- An inability to wake up from sleep
- Enlargement of the pupil (dark center) of one or both eyes
- Numbness or tingling of arms or legs
- Loss of coordination
- Increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation
- Loss of consciousness lasting a few minutes to hour
Effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries on Various Lobes of the Brain
The human brain is divided into different areas, known as “lobes.” There is the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe, the parietal lobe, the occipital lobe, the cerebellum and the brainstem, and they each control various parts of the body. For example, the frontal lobe controls attention, motivation, emotional, social and sexual control, and it controls verbal communication, our spontaneity, judgment, problem solving ability, our ability to make decisions, the way we use expressive language, motor integration, how we move our bodies, voluntary movement, and the way we sequence things. When the frontal lobe is damaged, the result may include problems with sequencing, difficulty making decisions, decreased attention, personality alterations, problem solving difficulties, a decrease in the ability to communicate verbally, a lack of spontaneity, rigidity or inflexible thinking.
- Temporal lobe – The temporal lobe controls short-term memory, receptive language, language comprehension, musical awareness, selective attention, object categorization (the ability to locate objects), face recognition, and behavior. When the temporal lobe is injured, it creates problems understanding the spoken word. There are also problems with selective attention, and even sexuality changes. A person with a temporal lobe injury may be found to persistently talk, and often with a temporal lobe injury we see an increase in aggressive behavior. There may also be problems finding, identifying and categorizing objects and faces.
- Parietal lobe – The parietal lobe takes us into a higher level of functioning. As we use our brains for thought processing, different aspects of knowing where our bodies are in space and things of that nature, the parietal lobe steps in to provide the functionality to successfully execute those actions. In the parietal lobe, we have the control of what’s called “spatial orientation,” or being able to identify where our bodies are in space. We have control of the awareness of our bodies, and our various body parts (where our arms and legs are, and what they are doing). We have our tactile perception (what we feel in our fingertips). Our academic skills, how we achieve in school and in the workplace. Object naming – how we file and apply names to faces and objects. Visual attention – the way that we are able to focus visually. The distinction between right and left. And, very importantly, our hand-eye coordination.
– Someone whose parietal lobe has been injured may have difficulty naming objects. They may also have problems processing and understanding what their fingers are telling them they are touching. You see people’s academic skills fall, and things that they were usually able to do in the workplace from a cognitive standpoint are now diminished or gone. They may become confused between the left and the right. They often lose their hand-eye coordination and the awareness of where they are in relation to others physically.
- Occipital lobe – The occipital lobe is another “high level function” area of the brain. It controls things like reading and visual processing. When the occipital lobe is damaged through a traumatic brain injury, we see issues of vision defects. There is loss of the visual field, problems visually locating objects and identifying colors. People can have distorted vision, hallucinations, and they can have something called “word blindness,” which is when a person may be able to identify letters but is unable to understand them in the context of certain words. And there is an overall slowed processing of the way that our brains process the movement of objects and other visual information.
- Cerebellum – The cerebellum is also a very high functioning part of the brain. The cerebellum controls growth and fine motor coordination and voluntary motor coordination. So when we decide we want to reach out and grab a jar off the shelf, we extend our arm and that’s our cerebellum in action. It controls balance and equilibrium, the ability to stand up and not fall over, ride a skateboard, ride a bicycle, or go for a jog down the block. It also helps maintain postural control, the ability to stand up straight, and stay upright, as well as our eye movements – moving our eyes back and forth and up and down, and utilizing our eyes to obtain visual information so that it can be processed by our brain.
- Brainstem – The brainstem is an area of the brain that most people don’t fully understand. It controls what is called the “autonomic nervous system,” which are all the things in our bodies that we don’t purposefully control. For example, our heart rate, the rate that we breathe, how we sweat – all those body controls that occur without having to think about them. It controls the rate at which the heart beats, our ability to remain alert and our level of alertness. It regulates sleep and the ability to achieve deep REM sleep. It works in tandem with other areas of the brain that help control balance and movement. It allows us to swallow food and liquid, directing it through our esophagus to our stomach, and beyond. So the brainstem controls so many of the different functions that allow us to survive as human beings. This is an area of the brain that we take for granted, and don’t realize the importance of a healthy brain stem until we become injured.
Traumatic Brain Injury Facts
Recent coverage of NFL concussion lawsuits have sparked an increase in media coverage about traumatic brain injuries. If it weren’t for the risk of head trauma in America’s favorite past time, however, traumatic brain injury would probably continue its role as one of the most under estimated medical problems in our country.
Many people don’t realize how common and devastating brain injury is in this country. In fact, traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in children and adults from ages 1 to 44.
Cost of Traumatic Brain Injury
- Lifetime costs to treat a person with a traumatic brain injury are estimated to be between $600,000 to $1.8 million.
- Indirect annual costs of brain injuries in the United States have been calculated at over $33 billion
- The total annual cost for TBI-related injuries in the U.S. is $60 billion
- Despite these high figures, the Federal government spends less than $3 per brain-injured person on TBI research and services per year
Leading Causes for Traumatic Brain Injury
Brain injuries often result from accidents that involve some sort of trauma to the head; however, other causes, such as insufficient oxygen, poisoning or infection, may also lead to a traumatic brain injury.
- Falls account for 28% of brain injuries in the United States
- Car accident injuries account for 20% of brain injuries in the United States
- Being struck by or against an object (head injury) accounts for 19% of brain injuries in the United States
- Physical assaults (head injury) account for 11% of brain injuries in the United States
- Other causes account for 13% of brain injuries in the United States
- Unknown causes account for 9% of brain injuries in the United States
Many people who have suffered a brain injury will be left with long term effects to their cognition and personality. Every year in the United States, more than 80,000 individuals are left with life-long disabilities from a traumatic brain injury. Today, over 5.3 million Americans are living with a TBI-related disability. Learn more facts about Traumatic Brain Injury to legally protect yourself.
Identify the Signs of a Concussion
A person who has suffered a concussion may show signs of:
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Tiredness or sleepiness
- A bad taste in the mouth
- A change in sleep habits
- Behavior or mood changes
- Trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking
- Loss of consciousness lasting a few seconds to minutes1
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Nausea or vomiting
Recovery Resources for Traumatic Brain Injury
A brain injury recovery isn’t something that can be achieved alone. It takes a great deal of support to help the brain injured person get back to some sense of normalcy – or as it is often referred to, “the new normal.”
In our experience with brain injured clients, sometimes the right resources can be difficult to find. Although many brain injury associations and support groups do publish their information online, there hasn’t been a single directory that points to the many brain injury resources that exist throughout the state.
This was a topic of conversation between Eric and a young graduate student at one of the brain injury network meetings that take place quarterly among brain injury professionals in Sacramento. It turns out she was working on such a directory for the Sacramento region, and was considering publishing it as her final project at school. Eric offered to publish her directory online if she would agree to cover the entire state of California. She did, and the California Brain Injury Support Center was born.
The resources below are just a few great websites with information regarding concussions and traumatic brain injury. However, you can visit the California Brain Injury Support Center for a much more detailed and thorough guide.
- CNS Mobile App
- CNS Continuing Education Courses on Brain Injury
- Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (Concussion)
- Brain Function
- Visger Group TBI Resources Facebook Page
- Linkedin Mothers Against Concussions Group
- Linkedin Traumatic Brain Injury Support Group
Brain Injury Lawyer in Sacramento
Brain injury lawyer, Eric Ratinoff, is a devoted advocate for brain injury survivors and their families. His experience growing up around brain injury survivors fuels his desire to represent them in the legal realm, and to advance their cause through professional work in the brain injury community. He serves on the board of directors of the Brain Injury Association of California (BIACAL), actively advocates for much needed funding for brain injury research.
According to Eric:
My fascination with the human brain started as a youngster watching my father treat brain injured patients in his small neurology practice in Pomona, California. Growing up in that environment, I learned about the very special relationship between people who suffer from brain injury, whether organic or traumatic, and their care providers. Through my upbringing, my study of the human brain, and my experience representing people with brain injury, I believe that I have a unique ability to help brain injured clients.
The time immediately following a TBI can be extremely challenging for the survivor and his or her family, yet it is a critical time to make sure the right steps are being taken to protect the legal rights of the injured person. It’s often extremely helpful to meet with a brain injury lawyer to gain perspective of what occurred and what needs to happen next to ensure the best possible outcome.
If you are in need of a brain injury attorney, call the Sacramento injury lawyers at Eric Ratinoff Law. He is always willing to meet with families at their home or hospital, or wherever is most convenient for the family, and is often able to fit family visits into his active travel schedule. For a free and confidential case evaluation, fill out the form on this page or call us at (916) 473-1LAW, or toll free at (866) 527-4278 and we will gladly answer any questions you may have.
En español: Abogado de lesiónes cerebrales