Overlooked & Undercompensated: Traumatic Brain Injuries
“Medical providers often check below the brain for spinal cord injuries after an accident, but these traumatic injuries often go undiagnosed, and uncompensated.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and lifelong disability in the United States. Car crashes are the second leading cause of TBIs, right after falls, which make up about half of traumatic brain injuries. But unfortunately, TBIs are often missed, or diagnosed late, making them more easily defensible by insurance companies.
The signs of a traumatic brain injury may not be obvious immediately after a crash or fall. Although the symptoms of whiplash may be present, a doctor may not necessarily investigate further. If a medical provider fails to ask the proper questions, or do a thorough investigation, traumatic brain injury can be easily overlooked. On the other hand, symptoms of TBI may not present themselves until a much later date. TBIs are more commonly missed in older adults, as symptoms often overlap with other conditions that are common in advanced age, such as dementia. It’s crucial for healthcare providers to focus on more than just the overt injuries. This way, there are fewer chances of a missed TBI diagnosis, and victims can receive early treatment before symptoms worsen.
There are several types of TBIs that range from mild to severe, such as a concussion, brain contusion, or skull fracture. A car accident can easily cause a concussion, as nearly any type of impact can cause someone to hit their head in the car. Concussions, which are caused by a blow to the head, are marked by symptoms like headache, nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, and blurred vision. But there are other symptoms that may not be as commonly related such as slurred speech, poor attention or concentration, irritability or emotional disturbances, difficulty reading or doing simple math, insomnia, depression, and confusion.
A brain contusion is a bruise on the brain. The symptoms are similar to those of a concussion. Many times, these heal on their own, but they may also lead to other issues such as a brain bleed or blood clot.
If an impact to the head is strong enough, the skull may fracture. This injury often accompanies other brain injuries, such as contusions and concussions. Symptoms of a skull fracture include bleeding from the ears or nose, bruising on the head, and swelling at the site of the impact.
Sometimes these closed-head injuries may not be visible on initial X-rays, CTs, or even MRI scans. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a novel imaging technique that detects how water travels along the white matter tracts in the brain and is a common way to diagnose a TBI. The DTI is designed to more accurately track brain abnormalities that arise after a TBI or concussion but is rarely used for emergency diagnosis. Mild TBIs may require no treatment, while more moderate to severe TBIs may require medications, physical and neurocognitive therapies, or even surgery.
If you or a loved one may have suffered a traumatic brain injury, it is important to be screened and diagnosed by a neurologist, or a provider that specializes in TBI diagnosis and treatment, as quickly as possible. Not only may the condition worsen, the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to relate your diagnosis to your injury claim. These claims are often strongly defended by the insurance companies, so it is important that you speak with an experienced legal representative. Our experienced TBI attorneys at Legler, Murphy & Battaglia, LLP can help you get the care you need and compensation you are entitled to.