Understanding the Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Predicting a TBI recovery time is difficult. Each injury is different and the recovery time for each person is unique. There are different types of concussions depending on the amount of force that impacts the head. Injuries can be in one or more location. Each injury will impact someone differently.
- Concussion. A concussion occurs when the brain receives trauma from an impact or sudden momentum change. As the blood vessels in the brain stretch, the cranial nerves may be damaged, and the person may or may not lose consciousness. Because the severity ranges so significantly, recovery could last weeks, months, or years.
- Contusion. A contusion, which is a bruise on the brain, is the result of direct impact to the head. Because of the amount of bleeding they can cause, large contusions may need to be surgically removed.
- Coup-Contrecoup. A coup-contrecoup happens when the force impacting the skull causes a contusion at the impact sight and moves the brain into the opposite side of the skull.
- Diffuse Axonal. When the head is shaken or strongly rotated, brain structures are at risk of tearing. As nerve tissue tears, chemicals are released and temporary or permanent damage, coma, or death is possible. The impairments vary depending on the location of the torn brain tissue.
- Penetration. This happens when impacts from a bullet, knife, or other sharp objects force fragments into the brain.
Degrees of Brain Injury
Your doctor will classify your injury according to the Glasgow Coma Scale. This scale takes eye opening, verbal, and motor responses into consideration using a point scale. The fewer points a patient receives, the more severe their injury. A more serious injury means a longer recovery time.
A mild TBI typically happens when someone loses consciousness for a very brief amount of time. When they wake up they may feel confused, but their brain scans often appear normal. A mild injury is classified as someone who only experiences a change in mental status at the time of the injury. A concussion is a common mild TBI.
A moderate traumatic brain injury usually results from a non-penetrative blow to the head or violent shaking. When this level of injury occurs a person may experience loss of consciousness for minutes or hours, confusion for days or weeks, and other physical, cognitive, or behavioral impairments. While some patients with moderate TBIs experience very few consequences, others deal with lifelong disabilities.
Severe TBI’s as a result of a crushing blow or penetrating wound to the head damage delicate brain tissue and life-saving medical intervention is necessary. Both open and closed head injuries can require prolonged hospitalization and extensive rehabilitation. In some cases, rehabilitation is ineffective and there’s no return to pre-injury status.
Factors Impacting TBI Recovery
Common impairments TBI victims experience include issues with memory, visual perception, fatigue, pain, sleep disturbance, anger, irritability, anxiety, and depression. There are a number of factors that impact the severity of those symptoms and the length of their TBI recovery. Those factors are environmental, personal, and medical.
Environmental factors include how the injury occurred, the severity of the injury, the disability services available to the patient, the patient’s family functioning and social support, and their access to transportation.
Personal factors involve how old the person is, their level of education, gender, genetics, behavior problems, pain, sleep disturbances, and the presence of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Medical care factors are related to the patient’s access to acute care, their access to general medical, mental, behavioral, or rehabilitative care, and the quality of the care they receive.
Improving Your Chances of Maximum Recovery
Recovery involves identifying your needs and goals, finding ways to maintain your own sense of personal power, and being sensitive toward others without ignoring your needs. Keeping those tasks in mind is crucial to maximizing recovery.
To aid in those tasks, it’s useful to have a positive attitude. It’s understandable to feel anxious, fearful, or depressed after an accident that results in a serious injury. Doing what you can to maintain a positive attitude can make difficult rehab sessions a little easier.
Schedules and structured activities are important to your recovery. A structured routine that includes eating, resting, sleeping, and working allows the brain to save energy and rest. Make sure you include a healthy diet and exercise as recommended by your medical team to your daily routine.
If you are struggling with depression or anxiety after sustaining a TBI, it’s easy for relationships to suffer. Your family’s involvement with your recovery, access to support groups, and friendships can keep the drive to recover strong.
Everyone wants to have the best recovery possible. We encourage you to follow your doctor’s advice. It is important to understand that there is a limit to how far some TBI patients will recover. The majority of the recovery process takes place as the brain is rewiring itself and using other pathways to bypass broken connections. Your recovery from a brain injury is unique. Ask your doctors about what your recovery may look like in the future for you.
If you have suffered a TBI caused by someone’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation to assist in your recovery, losses and future medical expenses. To learn more about the possibility of monetary recovery, contact our office today. Our lawyers will evaluate your situation and help you determine the best way to proceed.