Car crashes and traumatic brain injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are far more common than you might think. While many people are familiar with the signs of a concussion - which is a mild TBI - the wide-ranging nature and scope of these types of injuries are often overlooked.

The CDC describes TBIs as "a major cause of death and disability" in the U.S. In one year alone there were more than 2.5 million ER visits due to a TBI. That same year, the CDC recorded about 288,000 hospitalizations and nearly 57,000 TBI-related deaths. And car crashes are often to blame

Understanding TBIs

A TBI occurs when some type of jolt or blow to the head interrupts normal brain function. There are several different types of TBIs, ranging from contusions (bruising) to penetration (when a foreign object enters the brain). They are generally graded on a scale: mild, moderate or severe.

A concussion is an example of a mild traumatic brain injury. It may include brief loss of consciousness or the person appearing dazed and confused for a short time. A moderate TBI might cause someone to lose consciousness for minutes or hours and result in impairment that last for months or is permanent.

A severe TBI often means a person will never regain their earlier level of function, with the damage impacting cognitive and motor function, behavior or sensation. It may also result in a coma or death.

The lifetime cost of a severe TBI

The health and medical needs of someone who suffered a TBI can vary widely depending on the type and severity. Someone who can no longer function normally may need years of expensive care. The CDC says severe TBIs can have a significant "economic toll," with one study estimating the lifetime direct and indirect cost at $76.5 billion.

Sometimes, another person's negligent behavior - a drunk driver heading the wrong way on a road, for example - causes someone to suffer a TBI. In that case, the victim or a loved one might consider a personal injury claim. In a personal injury case, compensatory damages may be considered for things such as current and future medical needs, lost wages, or pain and suffering.

As the CDC notes, a TBI can affect every aspect of someone's life. Understanding what you or someone you know might be dealing with after a car wreck is vital to figuring out a path forward.

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