A traumatic brain injury, or traumatic head injury, is a term used to describe an injury to your brain that was caused by an external force. Like if someone hit you in the head, you banged it, or you fell. It does not cover brain injuries caused by things such as tumours or degenerative diseases. Not all blows to the head will result in a traumatic brain injury, there are around one million people each year who visit A&E because of a head injury, but most of these people won’t experience ongoing problems. The consequences of a traumatic brain injury can range from symptoms that last a few days, to lifelong disabilities.
Brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability worldwide.
Common Causes: Quick Facts
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries among people over 65. Road traffic accidents are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries among people under 65.
- Sports related traumatic brain injuries account for 300,000 injuries each year. Winter sports like ice skating and skiing are common culprits.
- Assaults are a common cause.
A traumatic brain injury happens in three stages:
1st Injury – Seconds after the accident
This happens when the skull is crushed or wounded and the brain is left exposed to damage, but in most circumstances, the brain is injured in a ‘closed head injury’. This means that the skull has not been penetrated or damaged but a strong impact or swerve has caused the brain to bang against the skull. No impact needs to have happened to cause this, movement of the head alone in a crash or collision can damage cells and fibres in the brain.
2nd Injury – Minutes or hours after the accident
When the brain is starved of oxygen, the damage from the first injury worsens. This can happen due to choking on vomit or blood, or by lying in a position that can block the airway. Serious blood loss can also create a deficit of oxygen in the brain. Thanks to intervention from emergency services or first aiders, this second stage of injury can be lessened or prevented.
3rd Injury – Days or weeks after the accident
This is where the brain starts to swell or bleed. Because there is limited room for the brain inside the skull, swelling or bleeding can cause compression and further injury. This injury should be prevented by hospital observation.
Because traumatic brain injury develops over time, you should go to A&E after a head injury to get checked out, doing so could prevent the second and third stages of injury from happening and improve your long-term chances. Preventing an injury is easier than rehabilitating from one.
For some people, a traumatic brain injury can result in complex, on-going problems. Some sufferers will be physically disabled, but the majority of people who have experienced a traumatic brain injury will have ‘hidden’ disabilities that can be hard to spot.
Long term issues which can be created by a traumatic brain injury:
- Difficulty relating to other people.
- Difficulty staying in employment.
- Seeming like ‘a different person’ to people around them.
- Difficulty remembering life before the accident.
- Lack of insight in understanding the severity of what happened.
- Poor concentration or difficulties with short term memory.
- Cognitive problems.
- Head injury has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s. According to recent research by The University of Boston, suffering a concussion could increase the risk of developing the illness in people who already have a genetic disposition. (Source: The United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum)
A head injury should still be taken seriously even if:
- There was no bleeding or open wound.
- There was no period of coma or unconsciousness.
- You ‘looked fine’ after an accident.
- The brain injury is mild or only causes small problems.
Traumatic brain injury is very complex and affects everybody differently, it’s hard to predict how a particular injury will impact someone. The symptoms may seem mild, but can actually contribute to severe difficulties in life. When trying to establish the financial cost of a traumatic brain injury, it’s necessary to look at the whole picture; medical costs, rehabilitation and changes in family or work life – both in the short and long term. To be able to measure the impact of a traumatic brain injury, a thorough assessment is needed. ASD have a wealth of experience when it comes to helping individuals claim for head injuries caused by accidents. Wherever possible, we will try and secure an interim payment to help you access the services you need. We can provide advice in regards to benefits and other financial issues. We work closely with The Injury Care Clinic and if possible, will appoint a case manager to assist with rehabilitation.
We work with local neurologists and neurosurgeons who can provide detailed medical reports on your behalf. You don’t need to proceed with a claim immediately after an accident, if you have had an accident in the past you can claim up to three years after the event.
Call us on 0800 163 622 for specialist, free advice from a solicitor.