By Paul K Hemmer, Esq.

Even a so called "mild" brain injury can result in severe and permanent disability.

Traumatic brain injury can cause devastating lifelong consequences not only for the injured victim but also for the victim's family. Permanent brain injuries can occur from a penetrating wound to the skull or from a closed head injury resulting from sudden deceleration or a direct blow to the head.

The brain has often been described as the master control center of the human body. A person does not have to be "knocked out" or in a coma to have a traumatic brain injury. If the soft brain tissue is subjected to sufficient force to jostle the soft tissue of the brain within the confines of the boney skull, shearing of the nerves can occur resulting in diffuse axonal injury. Serious brain injuries have been diagnosed even where there was no loss of consciousness at the time of the accident.

Symptoms of traumatic brain injury may not appear for several weeks following a traumatic event. Common symptoms of traumatic brain injury are: problems with cognition (thinking, memory and reasoning), sensory processing (sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell), communication (expression and understanding), behavior or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out and social aggressiveness). Language and communication problems are common following traumatic brain injury. Clients have reported difficulty with understanding and producing spoken and written language (aphasia) and trouble recalling words and speaking in complete sentences (motor aphasia). Language difficulties can lead to confusion, miscommunication and frustration.

Often professional evaluation of the brain injury victim occurs only after the spouse, child or sibling initiates it. Patients who survive traumatic brain injury usually have poor insight and are incapable of understanding what their problems are. Emergency room physicians, who typically have had no contact with a patient before the accident and are not in a position to fully evaluate pre and post injury cognitive behavioral changes, may overlook symptoms of traumatic brain injury. The patient may report a headache but not be mentally capable of reporting cognitive and behavioral changes. The brain injury victim may appear uninjured physically but lose interest in activities the victim previously enjoyed.

Proper diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury usually involves a team of experts, including the family physician and specialists in neurology, neuropsychology, a psychiatry and a psychology. Specialists may order CT or MRI scans to view the interior of the brain. By viewing the lobes, cerebellum and brain stem with cross section images physicians can pinpoint the location of brain abnormalities and rule out the possibility of other causes of documented brain malfunction.

Presenting a traumatic brain injury case in court requires counsel with a thorough understanding of the intricate and unique nature of these claims. The attorneys at Carroll, Ucker & Hemmer have decades of litigation experience and over the years have successfully represented numerous clients with traumatic brain injury claims.

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