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Not all head trauma results in brain damage, but brain injuries are almost always caused when significant pressure or force is applied to the head. The level and intensity of the brain injury may vary depending on the severity of the head injury. In some cases, a head injury could result in what is known as a traumatic brain injury (TBI). These are commonly a result of falls from high points or being struck on the head by a heavy object.
Over 1.7 million people in the U.S. suffer a traumatic brain injury each year. Because these injuries often go unseen, it is referred to as the "Silent Epidemic."
TBI can include closed head injuries, where there is blunt force trauma to the head and no splitting of the skull, or penetrating injuries where bone fragments penetrate the skull. A penetrating head injury can also lead to infection. Head injuries may or may not result in brain injuries. In many instances, TBIs are a result of equipment collapsing, falling from scaffolding, or getting stuck under debris. These can be from immediate impact to the head but also caused by secondary factors, such as swelling in the skull, interruption of blood circulation, and damage to nerve fibers. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious brain injury, you may be entitled to compensation. By speaking with our Texas brain damage lawyers, we can review your case and determine the best possible options.
Brain Injury FAQ
What should I do after a brain injury?
If you or someone you love has suffered any type of brain injury or head trauma, getting medical help should be your first priority. After that, talk to a Houston personal injury lawyer about your legal options. If you were injured at work, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation for your medical care and lost earnings. If someone else was responsible, like a drunk driver, careless property owner, or manufacturer of a defective product, a Houston traumatic brain injury attorney can from Arnold & Itkin can help you pursue fair financial compensation for your losses and injuries. This can help you start to put the pieces back together and build a brighter future.
What Are the Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Depending on severity of the injury, the physical and mental effects can vary. In general, the effects are greatest immediately following the injury. In mild cases, symptoms of traumatic brain injuries range from sensitivity to noise and light, to depression, memory loss, and attention deficit problems. In moderate cases, motor and cognitive impairment that requires extensive therapy and rehabilitation. In severe cases, victim remains in a vegetative state, coma, or a minimally responsive state. Physical effects may include headaches, speech problems, blurred vision, loss of hearing, lack of energy, difficulty with balancing, dizziness, or sleeping problems. Mental effects may include difficulty concentrating, memory loss, lack of focus, impaired decision making, depression, and anxiety.
Are Traumatic Brain Injuries Treatable?
Beginning treatment as soon as possible gives patients the best chance for a full recovery. Treatment options will vary depending on severity of the injury. The mildest injuries can generally be treated at home with over-the-counter pain medication and rest. However, it is important to keep a close eye out for any symptoms that may worsen as time goes by. If symptoms seem to be worsening, you should visit a doctor. Severe traumatic brain injuries can be treated in a variety of ways. Often, these treatments options are used in conjunction with each other. Common treatment option for severe brain injuries include medications, surgery, and rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation of Brain Injuries
Rehabilitation can be a long, slow process involving many different specialists. Most people who suffer a serious brain injury will require rehabilitation to relearn basic physical and mental skills that were lost due to the injury.
Common rehabilitation specialists include:
- Physical therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Speech pathologists
- Social workers
- Rehabilitation nurses
Closed Head Injury Claims
Closed head injuries are a kind of traumatic brain injury in which the skull and the dura mater (the membrane that protects the brain and spinal cord) remain intact. Closed head injuries can be caused by several various traumas, including falls, vehicle accidents, or even proximity to a blast or explosion. Closed head injuries can range from minor to debilitating, even resulting in permanent neurological deficits or wrongful death.
Some common types of closed head injuries include the following:
- Concussions: Temporary disruptions to normal brain function
- Intracranial Hematomas: Blood vessels rupture, causing a pool of blood to form
- Cerebral Contusions: Bruises to brain tissue
- Diffuse Axonal Injuries: Injuries to the axons (nerve fibers) of the neurons (nerve cells of the brain)
Symptoms of an injury may be apparent immediately, but because of the brain swelling involved in the trauma, symptoms may not appear for days or even weeks. Symptoms range from moderate to severe, but after an accident, anyone displaying even one symptom of a closed head injury should be given immediate medical care.
Some symptoms of a closed head injury include:
- Slurred speech
- Loss of consciousness
- Possibly coma
During the recovery period, victims of closed head injuries can develop secondary symptoms such as loss of social skills, depression, changes in personality, cognitive disabilities, anxieties, and changes in perception. Depending on the severity of both the initial and secondary symptoms, doctors will decide upon a treatment course that could include anything from physical and cognitive rehabilitation to medication or, in severe incidents, surgery or medically induced comas. While many individuals can recover from closed head injuries completely, others will never fully regain their previous levels of physical and cognitive abilities.
Skull Fractures & Brain Injuries: What Bone Injuries Can Tell Us
Brain injuries are serious and are caused by blunt force trauma to the head. Sometimes trauma can cause the skull to fracture, causing damage to membranes, blood vessels, and the brain. Often in the workplace, workers receive brain injuries after falling or being struck by a heavy object. Mine, offshore, and construction workers are a few examples of workers who may have a higher likelihood of receiving a skull fracture.
There are four different types of skull fractures:
- Linear Fractures: These fractures spread through the entire thickness of the skull, from the outer to inner table. They are usually straight, hence the name. Although all skull fractures are serious, linear fractures are usually not as damaging and are only a cause for serious concern if the fracture comes close to a vascular channel or a suture (joint) in the skull. If this is the case, you may face complications such as a buildup of blood called an epidural hematoma, a type of stroke called venous sinus thrombosis, or an abnormal separation called diastasis.
- Depressed Fractures: In these, the blunt force trauma to the head caused some of the skull bone to be displaced inward. They carry with them a higher risk of pressure on the brain, which could crush tissue and blood vessels. The internal cranial cavity is protected from the outside environment by the skull. If a depressed fracture fractures the skull, it comes into contact with the outside environment and can become infected. These fractures often require surgery to repair it.
- Diastatic Fractures: This type of fracture is common in infants because sutures in the head are not yet fused, but it is still possible that adults can be affected by it. They are usually caused when the fracture line goes across at least one suture of the skull.
- Basilar Fractures: These types of fractures occur at the base of the skull. The signs to watch for are fluid leaking from nose and ears, as well as eye bruising. These fractures may tear the pituitary gland. With that comes the risk of diabetes, impotence, or reduced libido.
Learn more about brain injuries by visiting the Brain Injury Association of America online today.
Neurological Injuries & Cognitive Disorders
Cognition describes the brain's ability to think, process, store information, and solve problems. A cognitive disorder is a condition where cognitive functioning becomes limited. Cognitive disorders originate from interruptions in basic cognitive functions such as memory processing, perception, problem-solving, and language development. They range in character from amnesia, dementia, and delirium to mental retardation, anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Certain psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and delusion disorder are also classified as cognitive mental disorders because they affect memory, attention, and other areas.
Some symptoms that are indicative of a cognitive disorder:
- Memory loss
- Impaired or disorganized speech
- Impaired motor skills
What Causes Neurological Injuries?
Neurological injuries can be caused by physical trauma, genetic diseases, or infection. When neurological harm is caused by negligence or wrongdoing, victims can seek justice. A strong blow to the head, a near-drowning, a car accident, or a fall could cause neurological injuries that affect a victim’s life in many ways. By holding the responsible party accountable, a victim of a neurological injury can recover compensation for his or her care.
What Are Symptoms of Neurological Injuries?
Neurological injuries affect the brain and spinal cord, which make up the nervous system and are responsible for thought, movement, and sensation. The symptoms of neurological injuries may vary in severity and type, depending on their cause and a number of other factors. Although they may differ from patient to patient, they are likely to have dramatic effects on a person’s ability to read, write, speak, move, and remember.
How do Cognitive Disorders Affect Daily Life?
People with impaired brain function are likely to forget deadlines and assignments, creating a reputation for being undependable. Even when people understand that your condition is not your fault, your cognitive disorder could keep you from consideration for certain opportunities. If you make a living in a high-risk environment, your cognitive impairment may make you a dangerous liability. This also affects your relationships. Your ability to comprehend and respond to conversations is more difficult—everyone seems to be speaking and drawing conclusions faster than you. Your ability to form deep connections depends on communication, which is harder for people with cognitive deficits. This creates a significant decrease in your quality of life.
How Do You Treat Cognitive Disorders?
When an individual is suffering from a cognitive disorder, his or her memory, concentration, and judgment are usually severely impaired. Depending on the underlying cause of the problem (i.e., traumatic injury), cognitive disorders can be treated situationally or with medication. Some treatment centers offer cutting-edge therapies to improve cognition, but treatment like this is costly. Depending on the underlying cause of the condition, some patients experience full recoveries, while others will remain permanently impaired. However, adaptive treatments can help patients cope. Cognitive disorders negatively impact the daily lives of those who suffer from the condition and those individuals charged with providing their care. If you or a loved one was born with or developed a cognitive disorder as a result of the negligent behavior of another, you may be entitled to compensation.
Trauma-Induced Memory Loss & Amnesia
Memory loss causes people to be unable to recall past events or display forgetfulness. The forgotten periods may be limited to recent events, events from the past, or a combination of the two. Memory loss can occur suddenly or have a gradual onset; it can be temporary or permanent. Memory loss can be caused by:
- Brain trauma
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Certain medications
- Drug or alcohol abuse
There are several different types of amnesia, explained in more detail below.
- Transient Global Amnesia: The temporary, total loss of short-term memory. The individual never loses consciousness and shows no signs of neurological impairment, but loses the ability to form new memories. It most resembles a state of agitation and confusion, with a loss of memory accompanying it. Often, victims have no memory of the event once the amnesia fades. Some researchers believe transient global amnesia is the result of temporary blockage in your brain’s blood vessels.
- Anterograde (or Antegrade) Amnesia: In this type of amnesia, the loss of memory relates only to events that occur after a traumatic event. New information can't be recalled, but memories of events before the trauma remain intact. This is similar to the way drinking causes people to “blackout” their memory of being drunk—except this amnesia results from brain injury, often from damage to the hippocampus. Hippocampus injury frequently occurs due to the lack of oxygen or toxic exposure.
- Retrograde Amnesia: An inability to remember events occurring before a traumatic experience. The memory of events after the trauma is intact, and new memories can be formed.
Symptoms of memory loss can include confusion, decreased alertness, getting lost easily, repeating things over and over, beginning a task but forgetting your purpose in the middle, forgetting names and dates and having difficulties with familiar tasks. People may also forget common words or have trouble conversing.
Call a Houston Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer: (888) 493-1629
If you have suffered a TBI, you should consult with a Houston brain injury attorney. Treatment for brain injuries can add up to millions of dollars, and many people never fully recover to lead a normal life. If another party was responsible for the accident that caused your brain injury, you could be entitled to full financial compensation. At Arnold & Itkin, we can review the facts of your case and help you determine what legal options are available to you. We've been successful in recovering billions on behalf of our clients who have been wrongfully injured.
Contact a Texas TBI lawyer from our firm to make sure you have an attorney who provides the aggressive advocacy you need. Call (888) 493-1629 for a free consultation.