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Understanding the Long-Term Effects of a Brain Injury

There are a number of alarming statistics related to brain injuries, such as:

X-Ray of a skull showing the brain

  • As many as 1.4 million people in the United States suffer a traumatic brain injury each year, with about 50,000 deaths resulting from these injuries.
  • Adults who are age 75 and older have the highest risk of dying from a brain injury, usually when the injury damages the parietal lobe.
  • At any given moment in the U.S., there are approximately 5.3 million people living with the effects of a brain injury.
  • Men are about twice as likely to suffer a brain injury than women, and nearly half of all those who have experienced a traumatic brain injury were single at the time, with many still living with their parents (likely young men under the age of 25).
  • For reasons not well-understood, African Americans are the most likely to die from a traumatic brain injury.
  • About 28 percent of all traumatic brain injuries are the result of a fall, while another 20-22 percent are the result of auto accidents.
  • Other causes of traumatic brain injuries include being struck by an object, or thrown against an object, violent acts, and sports injuries.
  • Bicycling is the number one cause of traumatic brain injuries as far as sports, followed by football, baseball, basketball, riding ATVs and other off-road vehicles, skateboarding, soccer, winter sports and horseback riding, with some, but much fewer brain injuries resulting from weightlifting, golf, jumping on a trampoline, playing hockey, gymnastics and cheer, ice skating and wrestling.

Although nearly three-quarters of brain injuries seen in the ER are relatively mild, about 70,000 of those who experience a brain injury will suffer permanent, lifelong damage. Recovering from a serious brain injury can be a long, difficult process which is emotionally draining for not only the patient, but the patient’s loved ones as well. It can take some of those with a traumatic brain injury weeks or months before they are even close to their former self, while others may take years, or may never be the same person they were prior to the accident.

Every Brain Injury is Unique

While brain injuries share some characteristics, in fact, every brain injury is unique in some way because there will have been a different amount of force to the head, the location of the impact will be somewhat different and the direction of the force will also be different. Add to that equation, the individual health of the brain injury victim, the timing and quality of the victim’s treatment, and a whole host of additional factors, and you can see how the long-term effects of the brain injury as well as the odds of recovery can be hard to determine.

Effects of a Brain Injury

Some of the more common after-effects of a brain injury include the following:

  • Loss of memory
  • Language impairment
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Severe mood swings
  • Balance issues
  • Vertigo
  • Impaired brain function
  • Loss of sensation in the fingers and toes
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Higher risk of stroke in the future
  • A higher risk of degenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s
  • Partial paralysis

Increased Severity of the Long-Term Effects of a Brain Injury

Following a brain injury, brain cells may slowly degrade over time as a result of complications from interactions with new medications, new injuries, or other medical conditions. As an example, a person with a serious brain injury could have an open head wound which causes an infection in the brain, or could suffer a seizure, which leads to additional brain damage. This means that as bad as the long-term effects of a brain injury are, they can become worse—even much worse.

Following initial recovery for the person with a moderate or severe head injury, long-term deficits associated with the brain injury may become glaringly apparent. Depending on the specifics of the brain injury, one or more of the brain control functions could be affected. In most cases (but not all), long-term memories, feelings toward family, and one’s basic knowledge of the world remain following a brain injury. While a person’s basic characteristics may also remain, the brain injury can cause them to react in ways they would not have done prior to the brain injury.

Difficulties in Solving Problems and Frustration When Schedules Change

Since it can be difficult to regain basic cognitive skills, such as concentrating on a task, focusing, and learning new material, the frustration which accompanies the knowledge that these tasks are so much more difficult than they once were, can come to the surface as anger. Those with a brain injury may think much more slowly than they did prior to the injury, speak slowly, and solve even the simplest problems slowly. A person with a moderate to severe brain injury can be easily confused when there is a change in routine; environmental overstimulation can also cause significant levels of confusion and frustration.  

Speech, Language and Executive Function Difficulties

Speech and language impairments are often seen among those with a moderate to severe brain injury—the brain-injured person could have difficulty finding the word they want, or understanding what others are saying to them. The brain’s executive functions are both complex and intricate. These functions are often affected by a traumatic brain injury and can prevent the person with the injury from planning ahead, coordinating a complex event, making a decision, adapting to changes, and even keeping track of time. With time, and appropriate therapies, a person with a brain injury can sometimes learn to compensate for executive function difficulties.

Behavior and Mood Issues Among Those with a Traumatic Brain Injury

When the brain system which controls our social-emotional life is damaged during a brain injury, the consequences can be traumatic. The person who was there prior to the accident may no longer exist, as the personality can be vastly altered. A person who was once the eternal optimist may be mired in depression and anxiety. A person who was once extremely socially skilled could now be constantly saying inappropriate things.

Depending on which part of the brain was damaged, some people with brain injuries experience uninhibited behaviors, aggression, lack of motivation, and behaviors which are extremely dependent. Since many of those with brain injuries are unable to compare the person they were prior to the accident to the person they are now, it can be extremely difficult for family and friends. Those with brain injuries who are able to move past the idea of recovering the person they were prior to the injury generally do better overall, as they reach a point where they can look at the changes in their lives as a fact, and, in some cases, even an opportunity.

Contact Our Jackson Car Accident Lawyers

If you or someone you love sustained a serious traumatic brain injury in an accident in Jackson, Hattiesburg, Meridian, or anywhere in the State of Mississippi, the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced Mississippi injury attorney who will protect your rights and assist you in receiving a fair settlement for your injuries.

At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe in fighting aggressively for injured Mississippi accident victims – to ensure that they receive the money they need to fully recover. We can help you obtain the money you need to fully recover. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at 1-601-948-1600, 1-877-231-1600 or click on the button below.

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Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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