The frequency of traumatic brain injury (TBI) for Americans is eight times greater than that of breast cancer, spinal-cord injury, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS combined. TBI is a serious, and potentially-life threatening medical condition that affects an estimated 1.7 million people annually. Of those, about 275,000 will require hospitalization, and approximately 52,000 will die.
Common causes of TBIs include high-impact sports, motor vehicle accidents, and falls. Although TBIs can affect any person at any age, our risk of TBI increases as we get older. Adults age 75 and older have the greatest risk of hospitalization and death from TBI.
Despite its prevalence in the U.S., TBI remains a commonly misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and mistreated medical condition. The myths below can lead to improper treatment, irreparable damage, and even death.
Myth #1 -TBI is always preceded by a loss of consciousness.
Recent advances in the medical community’s understanding of TBI have debunked this rather controversial myth. Today, the general consensus among doctors experienced in TBI is that a patient does not need to lose consciousness to suffer a TBI.
Myth #2 – If the individual looks fine and has no immediate symptoms, TBI is not a concern.
A person who has suffered a TBI may retain consciousness, appear healthy, and be able to walk and talk normally. TBI symptoms are often so subtle that the patient simply feels “off,” or slightly different. For some people, TBI symptoms don’t become apparent for weeks or months. Even so, they may have sustained serious internal damage. If untreated, this damage could lead to permanent psychological and neurological problems. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you believe you’ve suffered a TBI.
Myth #3 – Mild TBIs are not a big deal.
Even mild concussions and TBIs can have life-long psychological and neurological consequences. Symptoms of a mild TBI may include headaches, nausea, dizziness, noise and light sensitivity, problems with balance, vision and hearing problems, sleep problems, memory loss, personality changes, irritability, impulsivity, aggression, and depression.
Myth #4 – A TBI will always show up on a brain imaging scan.
Although MRI and CT scans can be helpful, this type of neuroimaging is rarely able to detect the structural differences caused by a mild TBI. These scans may appear normal, even if serious damage has been done. Slight differences, such as axonal shearing, may be too subtle to appear on the scan. That being said, other types of neuroimaging may be more effective at detecting structural differences in the brain. Functional imaging, including functional PET and MRI scans, may detect mild TBI and concussion. Unfortunately, functional testing is rarely used in clinical settings.
It’s important to know the symptoms of TBI, but it’s equally important to understand that symptoms may not be immediately apparent. If you have suffered any type of trauma to the head, it is in your best interest to seek immediate medical attention. There are many myths about TBI, and some of these misconceptions can lead to long-term or permanent damage. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been harmed due to another’s negligence. Continue reading