There are many misconceptions about traumatic brain injuries. While any blow to the head poses some danger, a traumatic brain injury can have far-reaching effects on how a person functions after the injury. In a recent post on Task & Purpose, U.S. Army Reserve officer Pamela Holtz, a doctoral student of Clinical Psychology at the University of North Texas, outlined myths surrounding TBIs so that returning soldiers and their families could understand exactly what kind of injuries those service members might have.
While civilians do not face the same scenarios as combat veterans, her report is beneficial to anyone who has suffered a TBI, either through a fall, while playing a contact sport, after a car accident, or any myriad ways you might suffer a brain injury. Some myths include:
- You cannot have a TBI without loss of consciousness. A person does not need to lose consciousness to suffer a traumatic brain injury. As defined by the Mayo Clinic, a “traumatic brain injury occurs when an external mechanical force causes brain dysfunction.” Whether or not you stay conscious plays no part in diagnosing the injury itself.
- If there is no bleeding, you do not have to worry about having a TBI. Open head wounds, or penetrating head wounds, will cause a TBI will present with bleeding, but closed head wounds may not. Brain damage or swelling can occur even if you do not bleed.
- Mild TBIs are not that debilitating. The term “mild TBI” is a bit misleading, because all TBIs are serious. As Ms. Holtz puts it, “TBIs, including mild TBIs, can have subtle, but long-lasting and pervasive consequences for neurological and psychological functioning. This means that a TBI can have cognitive and social consequences, ranging in severity. Some effects of the TBI can be coped with easier than others, which may continue to have a very real impact on the individual’s life for a long time.”
- Recovery from TBI is a straightforward, quick process. As with any injury, the rate at which a person heals is not clearly defined. Medical science discovers something new about the brain every day, it seems, so it may be impossible to quantify just how long it will take to heal. Furthermore, how quickly a person seeks and receives treatment could play a part in how long it takes for a person to recover, though in some catastrophic cases a person may never recover.
- Individuals with TBI can no longer work, or would at least require lots of expensive accommodations. This may or may not be true. Again, it depends on the patient and the severity of his or her wounds, as well as the ability of the doctors to quickly and correctly treat the injury. Some people who have suffered TBIs recover and go on to live long and productive working lives; others are rendered unable to work, either temporarily or permanently.
A traumatic brain injury can have short-term, long-term or permanent effects on the person who is hurt. It can and almost certainly will affect the people in the victim’s life as well. Seeking treatment quickly could be your best shot at a full recovery after you have been hurt through an act of medical negligence, in a devastating accident or in the service of our country.
Plaxen & Adler, P.A. is one of Maryland’s premier personal injury and medical malpractice law firms. We invite you to contact us with your questions if you suffered a traumatic brain injury.