As a victim of an accident, you may begin to feel relieved once cuts have healed and soreness has subsided. Unfortunately, serious health conditions like traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can chronically wreak havoc. These injuries are not uncommon.
In the United States alone, 1.7 million citizens experience a TBI every year. Understanding the potential long term effects of a brain injury can help you see the true extent of an accident’s damages.
The human brain plays a major role in regulating a person’s mood and behavior. Damage to certain areas of the brain can leave accident victims with little control over their anger. Those affected may display signs of verbal and/or physical aggression inconsistent with their previous behavior.
For adults, this could lead to making inappropriate comments in social settings as well as potentially costly outbursts in professional settings. Children can become more prone to fights and disruptive classroom behavior, affecting their safety and education.
TBI Effects on Cognitive Abilities
Some researchers believe that severe TBIs can possibly increase the risk of degenerative brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s. However, traumatic brain injuries often only impact the short-term memory. When interacting with a loved one who has brain damage, you may notice that he or she can recall information learned prior to the accident. Yet when it comes to discussing recent events, remembering new names, and completing everyday tasks, your loved one may be forgetful.
TBI victims may experience trouble focusing and processing their thoughts. It can take them longer to read and make sense of incoming information. Consequently, those with brain damage can find completing schoolwork or professional duties especially time-consuming and frustrating.
Damaged cognition can even be dangerous. Up to 60% of drivers who experience moderate to severe brain injuries continue to drive. They might not have the capacity to react quickly while on the road.
You probably know the frustration of trying to remember a word that’s at the tip of your tongue. For many TBI patients, difficulties like that arise regularly in conversation. In addition to forgetting words, they may be unable to move forward, repeatedly circling back to the same topic of discussion. Others easily get off topic. Some know exactly what they want to say, but brain damage has left them unable to organize their thoughts and express themselves coherently.
A traumatic brain injury may also impact non-verbal communication. Brain damage can strip people of their facial affect recognition, leaving them unable to read emotions. Without facial affect recognition, they can respond inappropriately to others’ feelings. It can take a serious toll on personal relationships. Additionally, sharing their feelings through body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions is close to impossible for some victims of TBIs.
Problems with Executive Functions
The term executive functions refers to a group of mental skills that allow you to set and achieve goals. Traumatic brain injury patients may have problems setting realistic goals and putting a goal-oriented plan in place. Their behavior often doesn’t align with what they want to accomplish in their careers and personal lives.
Organizational and problem-solving skills are impaired as well, making it difficult for employees to work at their former capacity. They may miss opportunities like promotions or bonuses, and in more severe cases, could lose their jobs. Likewise, research has shown that students who have problems with executive function are more likely to struggle academically.
Dealing with Emotional Problems
Brain damage can result in a myriad of emotional impairments. Since these impairments may surface well after an accident, victims and their loved ones should consult a doctor if they notice changes in the months, and even years, following an accident.
A TBI can make accident victims uncharacteristically irritable. Simple, everyday annoyances like misplacing their car keys or waiting in a long line can result in disproportionate bouts of anger or frustration. Mood swings can also be drastic and unpredictable.
A person who has suffered brain damage may have uncontrollable fits of laughter or sobbing. According to a study on mild to severe TBIs, 53.1% of the patients observed developed major depression within a year of their injuries.
Fatigue and Tiredness
Some sluggishness can be cured with rest and relaxation. Unfortunately, many TBI patients experience fatigue on an ongoing basis regardless of how much sleep they get. Victims of brain injuries may find that they do not have enough energy to complete everyday responsibilities. Their tiredness can even zap their interest in hobbies and activities they once enjoyed.
Up to 73% of TBI patients report experiencing fatigue. Fatigue resulting from brain damage can stem directly from physical damage to the brain. It can also be a byproduct of the emotional toll that brain damage takes as well as the extra work the brain outputs as it tries to function at its former capacity.
Disrupted Sleep Patterns
Insomnia, or difficulty falling and staying asleep, is a common sleep disorder among traumatic brain injury patients. Brain damage can also lead to sleep apnea, which is interrupted breathing while sleeping. A third sleep disorder called hypersomnia also affects many TBI patients. It causes long bouts of sleepiness.
Every type of sleep disorder can make it difficult to maintain a normal schedule. A lack of sleep can even lead to unwanted physical changes like weight gain. Those who suffer from sleep disorders often need medical intervention to combat these disorders.
Part of the human brain called the hypothalamus plays an important role in hormone production. Consequently, brain damage can lead to hormonal issues that impact growth, weight, blood pressure, and many other bodily functions that need regulation. Though normally rare, a form of diabetes called diabetes insipidus appears in almost 25% of people with brain injuries.
Physical Effects of TBIs
In a typical human brain, nerve cells effectively communicate with each other to allow the body to move and experience the five senses. After a TBI, damage to these nerve cells can inhibit abilities including balance and coordination, vision, mobility, and hearing.
Traumatic brain injury patients frequently suffer from headaches and migraines. Some experience embarrassing loss of bladder and bowel control, while 10% of people who are hospitalized due to a TBI experience seizures.
Contact Sand Law, LLC
If you or a loved one has endured a TBI or suspect brain damage after an automobile accident, contact Sand Law, LLC today. Our attorneys will work diligently toward securing compensation for your medical expenses and suffering. We offer free, no-pressure consultations. You can contact us online or at 651-291-7263.