Brain injuries happen as a result of trauma. Incidents like car accidents, big falls, sports injuries, and violence can all be to blame. However, brain injuries are still way more common than you may realize. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) actually estimates that there are over 1.5 million Americans who sustain a traumatic brain injury each year.
Of those, over 223,000 people are hospitalized and 64,000 people die. In Ohio, alone, traumatic brain injuries accounted for 22.5% of all deaths in 2017. The Ohio Department of Health found that Morgan County had the highest TBI death rate in the state, with 42 out of every 100,000 residents dying from a TBI-related injury.
For the most part, the majority of people do not die after sustaining a traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries can be considered more of a chronic disease, but they are typically manageable with treatment. However, there are people who sustain secondary brain injuries—and that’s where most permanent disabilities and fatalities come into play. If you were severely injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact a Columbus, Ohio brain injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Difference between primary and secondary brain injuries
A primary brain injury is when the injuries result immediately following the direct trauma that caused them. This is more so the category that more frequent head injuries, like mild concussions, fall into. These injuries are also considered to be complete at the time of impact. Now, this does not mean that there are no lasting effects from a primary brain injury—some patients never fully recover from the trauma they sustained.
Secondary brain injuries are different because they are caused by indirect trauma and actually evolve over time rather than only at the time of impact. Over the course of hours or days, the injury can start to affect and damage other areas of the brain that did not receive the initial impact. Secondary brain injuries do not always cause physical pain, but they can be deadly if left untreated.
Causes of secondary brain injuries
Secondary brain injuries arise due to the effects of primary brain injuries. Some of the characteristics of brain trauma that can lead to secondary brain injuries are:
- Inflammation or swelling of the brain
- Insufficient blood flow
- Insufficient oxygen in the brain
- Increased pressure in the skull
- Excessive carbon dioxide levels
- Brain abscess
These all affect things like the space around the brain or the cells within it. Cerebral edema, or swelling of the brain, is one of the more common types of secondary brain injury and often leads to brain death. A recent study found that swelling of the brain was actually responsible for around 60% of hospital fatalities for those who had brain tissue damage. Luckily, most people who experience cerebral edema were already hospitalized when the signs started to become more clear, so doctors take all necessary steps to immediately help the patient.
Symptoms of secondary brain injuries
After experiencing a blow to the head, it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. While you may feel fine initially, you may start experiencing symptoms of a severe, life-threatening brain injury without even realizing it. Some symptoms of secondary brain injury are:
- Persistent headaches. It may seem normal to have a headache after experiencing a bump to the head. However, when those headaches come on more frequently and are tough to get rid of, this could be a sign of a bigger internal problem.
- Dizziness. Similar to having a headache, this may also seem ordinary after a head injury. But if your dizziness is persistent and increases to the point of losing your balance, it could be a sign of more dire issues.
- Slurred speech. Slurring your words after a head injury is not normal, and it could be an immediate sign of a primary or secondary brain injury.
- Vision problems. Everyone talks about “seeing stars” after being knocked around, but your vision can be affected much more than that. If you start to become more sensitive to light or start having a hard time seeing when you never had issues before, it could be alarming.
- Sleep disorders. Sleep disturbances like insomnia and fragmentation are among the most common symptoms of a TBI.
- Depression. Severe cognitive issues can arise after head trauma, which can alter a person’s happiness and personality. While it may seem like you are just sad after experiencing a traumatic event, it can be much more serious than that.
- Memory loss. A foggy brain can happen to anyone, but there is quite a difference between that and actual memory loss. If you are forgetting basic information, like your birthday, where you live, or what year it is, it is a cause for worry.
Are secondary brain injuries preventable?
The only way to truly prevent a secondary brain injury is by not ever experiencing any type of head trauma. Unfortunately, accidents do happen. Since they are not entirely preventable in the real world, it is good to know that these types of brain injuries can sometimes be treated once detected.
However, scenarios like these are extremely time-sensitive. If the brain’s cells are being affected and they are dying due to trauma, they are never able to be regenerated. If there is significant brain cell damage, a person can become permanently disabled or even die from their injuries. This type of brain injury is a lifelong, chronic disease if survived.
If you or someone you love has experienced a secondary brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, contact Soroka & Associates, LLC today. Whether you were injured in a car accident, the victim of a brutal attack, or had a completely preventable fall, we are here for you. You may seek compensation for current and future medical bills, lost wages, and your pain and suffering. We are ready to fight for you and your case so you can have the justice you deserve. To schedule a consultation, call our office or complete our contact form. We aggressively serve the people of Columbus, Ohio.