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Small bumps and jostles can lead to a significant brain injury

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

When most people think of brain injuries, they think of huge hits the head. What some people might not realize is that very serious brain injuries can be the result of a relatively small bump on the head. One prominent doctor found out how a minor bump can lead to significant brain injuries.

The doctor was in his attic when he got a sharp pain in his back. He bumped his head on a wooden beam. Since there wasn’t a cut, he forgot about the incident. That is, until weeks later.

As time went by, the prominent doctor began to notice differences in the way he walked, his strength and the way he processed thoughts. He ended up getting an MRI and was sent to the emergency room to get prepared for brain surgery. The MRI showed that he had a large subdural hematoma.

A subdural hematoma is a pocket of blood that puts pressure on the brain. In the doctor’s case, the pocket of blood was large and resembled a lake. It was located inside of the skull on the right side of the brain.

While subdural hematomas are associated with the elderly, it is possible for other people to experience them. The effects of a subdural hematoma can occur days or weeks after the bump or jostle that caused it. This is because the veins in the brain don’t gush blood when they are damaged. Instead, they tend to ooze blood out, so the pooling that would cause noticeable effects can take longer to occur.

If you suffered from a subdural hematoma because you were jostled in a car accident or a fall that was caused by another person’s negligence, you might choose to seek compensation. Learning the process in California can help you as you embark on your journey.

Source: NPR, “How A Simple Bump Can Cause An Insidious Brain Injury,” Daniel Zwerdling, Jan. 06, 2016

Brain injury patients may need home modifications

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

Those who are left with Traumatic Brain Injuries following and accident frequently cannot return to the homes they previously occupied because the design features won’t accommodate their conditions.

It may be possible to modify an existing structure so that a TBI patient can return to the comfort and familiarity of a minimally-altered home. But in some cases, the dwelling may be completely unsuitable, so they find themselves having to relocate to a more hospitable environment.

Below are some design features that may be helpful to incorporate into a TBI patient’s home.

Accessibility is of prime importance. However, all brain injuries are different, so there is no one-size-fits-all design available. An occupational therapist is one resource to consult when attempting to modify or purchase a home for a TBI patient.

Obviously, anyone who uses a wheelchair needs to be either on the ground floor of a single-story dwelling or live in a building that is equipped with working elevators.

But doorways will probably need to be widened as well to facilitate the person getting from room to room without struggling.

Also, consider how high the countertops and cabinets are in the home. Can someone who is seated in a wheelchair access everything that he or she needs for their activities of daily living?

Keeping clutter to a minimum so paths remain clear is very important. But dependent upon the type and extent of the TBI, more modifications may be necessary.

Sometimes TBI patients can’t handle the visual stimulation of bright lights, busy patterns or loud colors. A muted environment with low lighting installed is a good choice for these patients.

When the brain injury causes extreme sensitivity to noises, it’s a good idea to invest in soundproofing the home, or at least certain areas.

As one can imagine, these modifications and requirements can get expensive really fast. This is why it is important for those with TBIs to obtain competent legal counsel to help them recover financial damages from those responsible for their injuries. A settlement or judgment can enhance the quality of life for TBI patients and their families.

Source:, “Designing Houses for People with Brain Injury,” Elliot Roth, M.D., accessed Feb. 12, 2016

What is a patient’s treatment immediately after a brain injury?

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

When a person suffers a blow to the head in an auto accident or a fall, the first treatment they will receive will be in the emergency room. There, ER physicians will assess and evaluate the patient and the injury to determine the course of treatment.

Often ER doctors will order CAT scans to make sure that there is no bleeding on the brain from a subdural hematoma. If there is, the patient will need immediate surgical intervention to drain the blood off of the brain before the pressure on it shuts down vital organs, causing death.

Post-surgical patients often spend some time being monitored in the Intensive Care Unit. Doctors sometimes medically induce comas in their patients to give the brain a chance to heal. In those cases, patients will usually have their breathing aided by a ventilator.

Comatose patients have wires and tubes attached to almost every surface of their bodies. It can be quite frightening to see a loved one in this condition. But this is a necessary step in the healing process.

If they are going to be unconscious for an extended period, they will receive sustenance through a nasogastric tube that is connected directly to their stomachs.

As the brain injury patient begins to heal, he or she will be medically “stepped down” from these intensive treatments and medical devices. Should they fail to respond or recover sufficiently, at some point a more permanent setting may have to be designated where they can continue to receive life-sustaining care.

The medical bills from such an injury can be in the seven figures. Future medical care in Los Angeles can swell that even higher. Seeking redress from the at-fault entity or individual is usually necessary to cover expenses and pay for modifications to living accommodations.

Source: Brain Injury Association of America, “Treatment,” accessed March 18, 2016

Brain injury effects go far beyond the victim

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

A traumatic brain injury is one that greatly affects the person who suffered the injury. Victims of TBIs might end up in the hospital for a long period of time while the medical team works to minimize the effects of the TBI. Starting from those first days after the accident, family members and loved ones can feel the effects of the injury.

While the TBI victim is in the hospital, immediate family members will likely spend a lot of time at the hospital. The emotional toll of the constant ups and downs that are associated with brain injuries can be considerable. Add in the lack of quality sleep, likely poor diet and dealing with the circumstances of the accident and it is easy to see why the inpatient period is so hard on the loved ones who are trying to support the victim.

This whole time, the duties of the victim will likely fall on the loved ones who are trying to support them. This can include having to take care of normal life activities like paying bills, taking care of pets, caring for the home and making sure children are cared for while the person is in the hospital.

When the person gets out of the hospital, life doesn’t automatically go back to how it was before the accident. Instead, many changes will continue on as the normal way of life. When a person is trying to recover from a traumatic brain injury, the process is more like a marathon instead of a sprint. When the injury was caused by an accident, seeking compensation might provide the family with the financial means to carry on while the healing process is ongoing.

Source: Brain Injury Association of America, “Family & Caregivers,” accessed April 22, 2016

How are traumatic brain injuries treated?

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

When you think of a concussion, you don’t normally consider that it is a mild form of traumatic brain injury, yet it is. However, these minor injuries typically do not require other treatment besides rest, monitoring and perhaps a couple doses of over-the-counter headache remedies.

It is important to note that even after only a minor TBI, the patient should avoid any type of cognitive or physical activities until they have been cleared by a doctor to return to normal daily activities.

But treatment for more serious TBIs is much more aggressive. The focus lies on ensuring the injured person has adequate blood and oxygen supplies, the blood pressure is maintained at acceptable levels and there are no additional injuries to the patient’s neck or head.

Secondary damage may also have to be minimized, as often those with serious head injuries also are suffering from other life-threatening injuries that must be medically addressed once the patient has initially been stabilized. Treatments can minimize damage from unstaunched bleeding, inflammation or a reduction of oxygen to the patient’s brain.

Sometimes physicians use drugs like diuretics to decrease fluid in tissues surrounding the injury to relieve pressure on delicate brain matter. Other useful drugs for treating TBIs are anti-seizure drugs and the strong drugs that can be used to induce a coma in patients to reduce the amount of oxygen necessary to keep the brain functional.

Emergency surgery might have to be performed to open a portion of the skull to relieve pressure and remove blood clots. If the skull has been fractured, surgical procedures can be done to repair the bones and remove bone fragments from brain tissue.

All of these procedures can be quite costly, and if the injury resulted from an at-fault accident with another person, the victim may have to take legal action to be compensated for damages and medical expenses.

Source: Mayo Clinic, “Traumatic brain injury,” accessed May 20, 2016

Are you suffering from amnesia after a head injury?

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

It’s in the plot of every cliched soap opera — the individual suffering from amnesia who struggles to remember his or her past.

Yet amnesia is a real condition where a person’s memories, experiences and information elude them. In most cases, though, persons suffering from amnesia still retain their sense of self-identity. More commonly, they struggle with retaining new memories and recalling newly learned information.

Amnesia can stem from brain damage in areas where memories are processed and can be permanent. Some types of amnesia known as transient global amnesia are temporary episodes. Doctors don’t have a standard treatment protocol for treating amnesia, although treatment usually includes techniques to enhance a patient’s memory, along with psychological support to help them cope.

Amnesia can be a result of traumatic brain injuries after a car accident or other incident. This complication is relatively rare, however, but it can be devastating for the person who suffers from it and his or her family members. In its most severe form, amnesia victims may need to have caregivers with them at all times to keep them safe and assist them with activities of daily life.

If you suffered a TBI and wound up with amnesia as a long-term complication, you may want to look into your legal options for seeking financial compensation. Any settlement offer should include a sufficient amount for future projected care costs. The younger the person is who is suffering from amnesia, the more money they may need over a lifetime to ensure that their care needs are always adequately met and addressed.

Source: Mayo Clinic, “Amnesia,” accessed May 27, 2016

The difference between traumatic and acquired brain injuries

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

Your brain is the most important part of your body. It governs your intelligence, emotions, consciousness, sensations and movement. When your brain suffers a permanent injury, though, the aftereffects — including the possibility of lifetime physical and mental disabilities — can be devastating. The various types of brain injuries are classified in two different ways as traumatic brain injuries and acquired brain injuries.

Traumatic brain injuries are always the result of an external force and they could be open wounds or closed wounds. They usually happen as a result of a motor vehicle crash or a slip and fall incident. However, they also happen following a criminal event in the case of assault and battery, and they also happen in on-the-job injuries. Differing kinds of traumatic brain injuries include diffuse axonal injuries, penetration injuries, contusions and concussions.

Acquired brain injuries do not always happen as the result of an external force. They are caused by anoxia, which is complete oxygen deprivation to the brain, and hypoxia, which is partial oxygen deprivation to the brain. These kinds of injuries can happen in a stroke, heart attack, drowning, strangling or as the result of medical malpractice.

Regardless if you have suffered an acquired brain injury or a traumatic brain injury, it is important to evaluate whether the injury was the result of another party’s negligence or criminal behavior. If it was, a claim for damages might be pursuable against that party.

Every personal injury claim in Los Angeles, regardless the nature of the injuries, will be subjected to statutes of limitation. What that means is that victims have only a limited period of time in which to pursue claims for damages against the at-fault party.

Source: FindLaw, “Types of Brain Injury,” accessed April. 29, 2015

What are the most common traumatic brain injuries?

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

There are four primary types of traumatic brain injuries — skull fractures, hematomas, contusions and hemorrhages.

Skull fractures happen when part of the cranium is broken. Skull fractures at the base of the skull are most likely to result in vascular and neurologic injury. If the temporal bone is broken, it could affect hearing and/or result in facial weakness. Complex open skull fractures where the brain lining is breached often require surgery to correct.

Contusions are small bruises to the brain. These can result in functional impairment; however, patients do not usually need to have surgery to resolve the issue. Drying agents can be used to reduce brain swelling. Alternatively, surgeons may drain some of the excess brain fluid to relieve pressure from swelling.

Hematomas may be located under the skull but outside the brain’s lining (epidural hematoma), or they could be located inside the brain’s lining (subdural hematoma). Hematomas involve a torn artery that results in a blood clot. Both types of hematomas may require surgery to resolve.

Hemorrhages, and specifically intracerebral hemorrhages, happen inside the brain itself. Some surgeries can intercede to limit the damage done by a hemorrhage so it doesn’t get worse. However, in severe cases, recovery is slow and varies with the patient and their particular circumstances.

Car accidents are some the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries. Considering the high price paid for medical and rehabilitative care and the fact that many patients can no longer work and hold down a job, it may behoove people with brain injuries to investigate whether they can pursue a personal injury claim to pay for these damages. If it can be proven that another party was at fault for the accident and injuries, brain injury patients might be able to recover money to pay for medical costs related to their injuries.

Source: University of Arizona Department of Surgery, “Neurosurgery,” accessed June 28, 2016

Study: Equestrian accidents leading cause of adult brain injury

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

Most of the media attention on sports-related concussions and traumatic brain injuries has focused on the dangers of contact sports such as football and soccer. However, a recent study published in the journal Neurological Focus found that equestrian accidents are actually the most common cause of TBIs for adults.

These accidents, which usually involve a fall from a horse, don’t generally occur repeatedly, as blows to the head in football and soccer do. However, one injury can have severe consequences. As one neuro critical care doctor says, “I would be more afraid about one single fall that would start a fracture … or bleeding in brain” and permanent damage.

The study, which used National Trauma Databank statistics from 2003 and 2012, found that over 45 percent of adult TBIs were caused by horseback riding activities. Contact sports accounted for less than half that.

Another study of TBIs in children and adolescents confirmed that contact sport injuries (generally hits and falls) accounted for the majority of head injuries. Roller skating and skateboarding came in second, while equestrian sports ranked third.

The permanent changes to the brain caused by a TBI are still being studied. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is a neurodegenerative disease commonly referred to as CTE, is one that has been found to plague athletes who suffered serious or multiple head injuries. Studies involving the effects of TBI may be able to benefit anyone who has suffered one, regardless of the cause.

Like any sport that involves the risk of serious injury, it’s essential that participants use proper safety gear, such as helmets. They and those supervising the activity need to take all reasonable precautions to prevent injury. When someone is injured in an equestrian accident due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, it may be possible to take legal action to seek the compensation needed to make as full a recovery as possible.

Source: ABC News, “Horse Riding Is Leading Cause of Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injuries, Study Finds,” Gillian Mohney, accessed Nov. 27, 2016

How brain injuries in accidents are diagnosed

Injury Lawyers in Los Angeles California

Brain injuries are usually the result of a serious accident, but knowing that a brain injury has actually occurred can sometimes be a challenge — both for physicians and for the people who are suffering from them. In fact, if the symptoms are not obvious and clear, doctors often overlook mild brain injuries. However, even a mild brain injury can have a significant and negative impact on an individual’s life.

In severe brain injury cases, the primary way they are discovered is in the emergency room when a neurological exam is performed. A doctor or a nurse will rate the patient on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which tests eyelid movement, speaking ability and responses to physical and verbal stimulus.

In less severe cases, it is not uncommon for symptoms to develop later, after more pressing injuries have begun to stabilize and heal. Sometimes, an imaging test such as a CT or MRI scan will reveal a subdural hematoma, skull fractures, a penetration injury or other signs of a brain injury.

Sometimes, imaging tests will not detect a brain injury — when in fact an injury has occurred. This is where neuropsychological testing comes into play. These tests can help doctors detect cognitive defects that could be signs that a brain injury has occurred.

When all else fails, there is also the personal observations of the patient and the patient’s coworkers, family members and friends. This kind of evidence can sometimes prove essential in legal claims relating to the brain injuries.

At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, our attorneys are well versed on various strategies to prove in court that brain injuries in accidents have occurred in cases where it is difficult to obtain test-based evidence. Regardless how your accident and brain injuries may have occurred, we are here to help in any way we can.

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