Life After a Severe TBI
Some of the worst injuries you can suffer in an accident are invisible. Unlike broken bones, burns, or cuts, you cannot see negative changes to how your brain functions. But traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) often leave victims suffering for months and, in some cases, forever. If you have suffered a severe TBI, unfortunately you may face a long road to recovery.
A severe TBI shares many of the same symptoms as a mild concussion. Immediately after suffering a blow to your head or body, you may lose consciousness. Whereas you might be unconscious for only a few seconds with a concussion, you might be unconscious for hours or longer when the brain injury is serious.
When you awaken, you will probably suffer from many of the following effects:
- Impaired motor function: difficulty walking, loss of balance and coordination, and weakness in limbs.
- Diminished cognitive function: loss of memory, trouble concentrating, impaired problem solving or critical thinking skills.
- Sensory changes or deprivation: changes to hearing, vision, touch, and visual perception.
- Emotional disturbances: loss of impulse control, increased aggression and anxiety, depression, and changes in personality.
- Impaired communication: difficulty speaking or understanding other people’s speech.
The precise problems will depend on which part of the brain suffered trauma. For example, some parts of the brain control speech, whereas others influence mood and emotion.
Treating a Severe TBI
The immediate goal of medical treatment is to stabilize you. Many victims with severe TBI are hospitalized and hooked up to ventilation to help them breathe. Doctors might monitor your brain function, as well as the function of other organs like your heart and lungs.
Depending on the trauma, you might need surgery. For example, someone who suffers a penetrative brain trauma will probably need surgery to remove skull fragments and other foreign objects. If the brain has been bruised, a surgeon might remove hematomas and try to stop bleeding. Doctors will focus on reducing swelling in the brain and preventing possible infection.
Most treatment, however, focuses on managing your symptoms. If your trauma was closed—meaning nothing penetrated the skull—then you might not need surgery, but you will likely need rehabilitation.
The goal of rehabilitation is to recover as much functioning as possible. Ideally, your TBI will heal and you can return to your normal life, though that is not always possible with a severe TBI. Instead, the goal will be to regain as much independence as possible. The precise rehab you need will depend on the lingering effects of the TBI. For example, you might need:
Occupational therapy, to help you relearn the simple tasks of daily living. For example, you might need to relearn how to dress yourself, bathe, and cook meals.
- Physical therapy can help you regain mobility by retraining the brain’s circuits. Your physical therapy might focus on relearning how to walk or grasp objects.
- Speech therapy will focus on improving your ability to communicate and comprehend speech. Depending on the severity of your TBI, you might need to relearn how to make simple sounds and read basic books.
- Behavioral therapy seeks to improve your mood and impulse control. You might also need prescription drugs for help coping with mood changes.
Rehabbing a severe TBI can be an emotionally-draining experience, not only for the victim but also for his or her family members. For that reason, many family members also benefit from therapy or from community support groups. You should talk with your hospital or healthcare provider for information about available resources in your area.
The amount of recovery achievable will depend on a variety of factors such as your age, overall general health before the TBI, and how quickly you receive therapy after the initial trauma. Some research shows that most progress is made when rehabilitation is started as soon as possible.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 5.3 million people are currently living with a disability related to their traumatic brain injury. These disabilities linger after years of therapy, so a full recovery is not possible for millions of people. After a severe TBI, you might need continuing medical care for the rest of your life, such as:
- An at-home attendant who can help you cook, bathe, get dressed, and run errands.
- Medical equipment to help you breathe.
- Prescription drugs to manage behavioral changes.
In extreme cases, a victim with a severe TBI may remain in a coma indefinitely, which means they might be moved to a long-term care facility where he or she can be monitored 24/7.
This continuing care is expensive, and few people are prepared for it. For example, a year of treatment in a Florida nursing home costs around $90,000—and is only increasing at an exponential rate. The victim’s insurance might cover some of these costs, but often a victim reaches their maximum in health insurance benefits long before they feel well enough to live on their own.
Fortunately, you might be able to bring a lawsuit for compensation to pay for past, present, and future medical expenses. You might also be able to recover for lost past, present, and future wages if the lingering effects of the TBI prevent you from returning to your old job.
Speak With a Clearwater, Florida Brain Injury Attorney
Severe traumatic brain injuries can cause millions of dollars in economic and non-economic losses. Few people are prepared to shoulder this financial burden alone, so bringing a lawsuit is necessary for maintaining your standard of living.
At Dolman Law Group, we understand the strain a severe TBI puts on everyone in the family. Helpfully, Florida law allows injured victims the ability to receive financial compensation that can reduce at least the financial portion of your stress. To discuss whether you have a valid legal claim, please schedule a free consultation with one of our Clearwater brain injury attorneys. You can reach us by calling 727-451-6900 or submitting our online contact form.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, Florida 33765