Can You Survive Severe Brain Damage?
Learning a loved one suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) is frightening. Making matters worse is the uncertainty that follows a head injury. Doctors can’t make any promises of a full recovery. Many families worry, “Can you live with severe brain damage?”
The answer is yes. Estimates suggest that as many as 230,000 people sustain TBIs each year. Around 90,000 survivors end up with a long-term disability. But every brain injury is different. Survival is not guaranteed in the hours and days after the injury, and doctors might take weeks or months to make a reasonable prognosis. Most victims live with some type of physical or cognitive disability after a serious TBI.
Did a family member or friend suffer a catastrophic brain injury in Pasadena? The costs to treat and care for someone with a severe TBI are tremendous. Financial compensation may be possible to help with these expenses. A California brain damage attorney from the Law Offices of Pius Joseph can discuss your legal options in a free consultation. Call or contact us today to get started.
What is a Serious Brain Injury?
All brain injuries are serious. The most severe ones cause extensive damage to brain tissues, bruising, bleeding, and cell death. A violent blow to the head or penetrating wound that pierces the skull typically causes severe TBIs.
According to the Mayo Clinic, common signs and symptoms of a severe brain injury include:
- Losing consciousness for several minutes or longer
- Persistent and intense headaches
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilated pupils, either in one or both eyes
- Clear fluid draining from the nose or ears
- Numbness or weakness in the fingers or toes
- Loss of coordination
- Extreme confusion
- Slurred speech
- Feeling agitated or frustrated without any reason
Any blow to the head can cause a traumatic brain injury, even if the accident initially seems minor. Some of the most common causes of TBIs include:
- Car accidents
- Semi-truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Construction site accidents
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Workplace injuries
- Sports injuries
- Physical assaults
Comatose State vs. Vegetative State
After suffering a severe brain injury, the victim may lose consciousness for a prolonged period. During this time, the brain may still regulate core bodily functions controlled by the central nervous system, such as breathing and circulation. However, the victim is unaware of what is happening around them and generally cannot be roused from their unconscious state.
A person who loses awareness and most bodily functions after a severe brain injury may be diagnosed with a consciousness disorder. Two of the major disorders of consciousness are coma and a vegetative state.
A comatose state is usually caused by an injury to the brain’s thalamus, brainstem, or hemispheres. Someone in a coma will be unresponsive to sound, touch, and pain. Comatose patients also do not experience sleep-wake cycles. If an injury to the brainstem caused the coma, the patient will likely require a ventilator to breathe. Many coma patients eventually regain some form of consciousness.
A brain injury victim in a vegetative state exhibits symptoms similar to someone in a coma, but there are crucial differences. A patient in a vegetative state will have no awareness of what is happening around them and will not be able to communicate, but they are a bit more active than people in comas.
If the brainstem is undamaged, the patient may breathe independently and make some involuntary movements. Patients in vegetative states may experience sleep-wake cycles, open their eyes (without awareness), grind their teeth, make facial movements, or thrash around. If this state lasts for several weeks, the patient may be in a persistent vegetative state.
Care After a Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury victims require specialized medical care, especially if they are in a coma or vegetative state. These patients are unable to take care of themselves, so caregiving in a hospital may include:
- Taking care of the patient’s nutritional needs using a feeding tube
- Turning the patient regularly to prevent pressure sores
- Using a catheter or diapers to help the patient with bladder and bowel relief
- Installing a breathing tube or other means to breathe
- Regular attention to hygiene needs
- Watching for infections that may develop, such as pneumonia
Phases of Recovery
There are four main stages of a brain injury:
Unresponsiveness – The victim is still in a coma or vegetative state and cannot respond to stimuli.
Early responses – At this stage, the victim is minimally aware of their surroundings. They may be able to respond, but the reactions may be slow or inconsistent. Over time, the patient may develop localized responses to sound, sight, or touch. They may also be able to follow simple commands.
Agitation and confusion – The victim’s responses are more consistent, but they are still recovering. Patients may have trouble with memory or responding appropriately to commands or stimuli. They may lash out physically or verbally because they are confused and frustrated. This behavior is not intentional and will likely fade over time.
Higher-level responses – In the final stage, individuals may be able to handle routine tasks independently but need help with more complicated actions or decisions. Patients could also accidentally injure themselves because they are unaware of their physical limitations. Over time, they could regain physical and cognitive function.
Recovering from severe brain damage takes time, and victims usually need physical therapy, occupational therapy, and long-term treatment. If the damage to the brain is permanent, the person might need a wheelchair, other specialized equipment, and potential modifications to their home for comfort and ease of living.
Can Brain Damage Get Worse?
Severe brain damage can worsen or improve with time. It depends on the location of the injury and the extent of the trauma. Complications from the initial injury may lead to physical and mental problems later. For example, excess cerebrospinal fluid could collect in the brain, putting pressure on the skull and causing additional brain damage. Research also indicates that TBIs are linked to the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in later life.
Contact the Law Offices of Pius Joseph — A California Attorney Always Ready to Help You
You could be entitled to compensation if you sustained a serious TBI due to someone else’s carelessness. Let a California traumatic brain injury attorney from the Law Offices of Pius Joseph help you pursue the money and accountability you deserve.
Our legal team knows that a brain injury doesn’t only impact the individual who suffers it. Households may lose a valuable source of income, families must adjust to a new routine and way of life, and victims must re-learn basic skills or adapt to accommodate new disabilities. Our lawyers can place a value on your case that accounts for these devastating financial and personal losses.
Help is only a phone call away. Call or contact us now.