Understanding the stages of traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injuries can happen for any number of reasons. A lot of attention gets paid to TBIs in veterans and athletes, but it is just as likely that a serious brain injury could result from an everyday accident. A car accident, a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk or a fall in a nursing home can all result in TBI if the victim suffers a blow to the head.It is important to take brain injuries seriously. Traumatic brain injuries can have long-lasting consequences, even if the injury doesn’t appear to be severe at the time of the accident. The risk is even worse for people who experience repeated or particularly forceful head trauma. These individuals may develop a serious condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy.CTE is a form of dementia that can lead to a whole host of complications including impaired judgment, poor impulse control, addiction and severe depression. The condition occurs when trauma causes brain tissue to deteriorate and accumulate abnormal amounts of a protein known as “tau.” CTE is especially troubling because it can only be definitively diagnosed during an autopsy. As such, it is extremely important for the loved ones of brain injury victims to be on the lookout for the symptoms of CTE. If the problem is detected early, doctors may be able to help the victim retain some quality of life.

Researchers have identified four stages of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. If your loved one has suffered a severe TBI or several mild brain injuries, keep an eye out for these symptoms:

  • Stage I: The early stages of CTE are marked by depression, aggressiveness and problems with short-term memory. Some individuals may also experience problems with cognitive processes and reasoning skills.
  • Stage II: As the condition progresses, individuals may experience severe headaches, memory loss, trouble concentrating and difficulty controlling impulses. This is also the stage at which depression may progress into thoughts of suicide.
  • Stage III: At this stage, nearly 75 percent of CTE suffers become cognitively impaired. They may experience visuospatial problems, severe cognitive and memory difficulties and a general sense of apathy.
  • Stage IV: In the most severe cases, CTE suffers become profoundly impaired. Not only do they have difficulties with memory and cognitive function, but they also experience significant personality changes including paranoia, depression and aggressive tendencies. According to researchers at Boston University, approximately 30 percent of people with Stage IV CTE will become suicidal at some point.

How an attorney can help TBI victims

When a traumatic brain injury was caused by another person’s negligence, the victim has a right to pursue financial compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. This is true even if the victim had suffered other brain injuries in the past.

It is important for TBI victims to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney when pursuing these lawsuits. TBI treatment is expensive, and an experienced attorney can calculate the true value of future medical care in an effort to help the victim secure just compensation. In addition, the attorney will likely be able to connect the victim to a network of experts who are skilled in treating severe TBI.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of traumatic brain injury, talk to a personal injury attorney who can help you understand your rights and protect your future.