In February 2011, Dave Duerson, a former NFL safety for the Chicago Bears and a two-time Super Bowl champion, ended his life because he feared that he had traumatic brain injury (TBI) stemming from the many concussions he suffered as a football player. Posthumous testing of Duerson’s brain, which he donated to research, confirmed that he was suffering from life-altering injuries to his brain, injuries that were often invisible to others. But the effects of TBI can produce persistent behavioral challenges, including severe depression, lack of concentration, mood swings, and in Duerson’s case, suicide.
A brain injury may be sustained in a variety of situations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over half of all brain injuries are caused by falls (35%) and motor vehicle accidents (17.3%), with over 1.7 million people sustaining TBIs every year. Fortunately, nearly 80% of patients seen in the ER are treated and released from the hospital. However, 52,000 people will die and 275,000 will be hospitalized as a result of a TBI.
Traumatic brain injury is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Most TBIs are concussions or other forms of mild TBI. Severe TBI may involve an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia. A brain injury may affect the way the a person thinks, feels and acts and can change functions within the body, such as temperature, bladder and bowel control. For those with significant brain injury, special services may be required including in-home care, neurological assessment and counseling, financial assitance as well as physical therapy.
What can you do to prevent concussions or other forms of TBI? There are a number of ways to reduce the risk of injury:
1. Wear a seat belt every time your drive/ride in a motor vehicle.
2. Use a child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt (according to your child’s weight, height and age) every time your child rides in a motor vehicle.
3. Wear a helmet, and make sure your children wear helmets when playing contact sports, skating, riding a bike, skateboarding or snowboarding.
4. Protect seniors from falls by removing trip hazards, installing grab bars in showers and bathrooms and improving lighting in the home.
5. To keep children from falling out of open windows, install window guards. Place safety gates at the tops and bottoms of staircases when youngsters are in the home.
6. Never operate a motor vehicle while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
7. Use shock-absorbing materials, such as cedar mulch or sand, under and around your child’s play equipment.
In the event that you or a loved one suffers an injury to the head, look for the warning signs of TBI, and immediately seek medical attention if any of the following symptoms are present: numbness, excessive drowsiness, severe headache, weakness in arm/leg, dizziness or loss of speech, slurred speech, loss of consciousness or confusion, vomiting or nausea or inability to find the right word. This is only a partial listing of symptoms listed on the CDC website, and is not meant to represent medical advice. Symptoms can appear days or months after an injury, and are often recognized when the victim begins to resume her/his daily schedule.
If you, a family member or friend has sustained traumatic brain injury, you may need an attorney to represent you. The experienced and compassionate attorneys at the Law Offices of Henry Hanflik can help you now! Call 810-720-4000 for a free consultation.