Traumatic Brain Injury
The worst thing you can do if you have suffered a traumatic brain injury is mistakenly assume that you have not suffered injury, or that "it will get better by itself." If you suffer a brain injury in an accident, but do not report your symptoms or seek medical help, you may find yourself unable to convince your insurance company that your injury resulted from the accident. You may also find yourself unable to recover money damages from the person who caused your injury. A brain injury can be the longest lasting, most debilitating injury resulting from an accident, affecting your life long after your other injuries have healed.
Many brain injuries result from automobile accidents.
Michigan's No Fault law recognizes the
special nature of brain injuries, and provides a good framework
for recovering both damages from an at-fault driver, as well as
appropriate medical and rehabilitative care. Many individuals with
brain injuries resulting from autombile accidents will benefit from
having an experienced lawyer review their situation, and help them
get all of the benefits to which they are entitled, including First
Party No Fault benefits.
It is a common mistake to assume that a brain injury
cannot result from a low-speed traffic accident. There is now substantial
medical literature, establishing that brain injury can occur even
as the result of "minor" traffic accidents. Don't allow
yourself or your physician to be fooled by the "minor"
nature of the accident -- if you show any signs of a brain injury,
you should explore the possibility that you have suffered one.
Serious brain injuries are usually apparent at the time of injury. However, mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) is less likely to be diagnosed. Symptoms associated with MTBI include:
In many MTBI cases, the person seems fine on the surface, yet continues to endure chronic functional problems. Some people with MTBI suffer from post-concussion syndrome (PCS), and may experience significant changes in their personality and cognitive abilities.
Traumatic brain injury can significantly affect an injured person's mental, physical and psychological well-being.
People who suffer brain injuries offen have adjustment difficulties during their recovery. It can be very difficult to deal with the change of personality, and the loss of cognitive skills that may result from a brain injury. It is difficult for people to accept that what used to come naturally to them is now a struggle. The recovery and therapy process, even where a brain injury is relatively mild, can be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. If the injured person is also suffering from headaches or depression, the exhaustion can be magnified.
If you have been diagnosed with a brain injury, you should consult with physicians and psychologists who specialize in brain injury cases, as they are in the best position to prescribe appropriate therapies and medications to help you make the fullest possible recovery. In appropriate cases, vocational therapy will be appropriate, perhaps including a "job coach" who will accompany you to work to help you readjust to your employment and to develop strategies to help you perform your work. Medications should be chosen with care, to avoid problems with dependence or "rebound headache."
In the event of brain injury, family education is often appropriate, where family members will learn about the effect of TBI on the injured family member. A TBI will affect the injured person's relationships with other family members, and early education and family counseling can be very beneficial.
If your child has been in an accident, please remember that young children may have difficulty articulating the symptoms they are suffering as the result of a brain injury. It is up to you to watch for the signs of brain injury in your child, and to seek appropriate testing if you believe that your child has suffered a brain injury. Children are susceptible to brain injury from sources that their parents may not recognize, such as being poisoned by lead paint "dust" in older houses. (Don't make the mistake of assuming that lead paint poisoning comes only from "eating paint chips" - lead paint dust can be created by opening and closing windows that have been painted with a lead-based paint. That dust, if ingested, can poison your child, even if your child would never "eat paint chips." If you think your house may contain lead paint, have it tested to make sure that the lead levels are safe for your children.) The consequences of brain injury in a child can be extremely stressful on a family, and can affect the child for the rest of her life.
If you believe that you or a member of your family has suffered a brain injury, seek appropriate medical treatment, and seek it early. If you believe that somebody may be legally responsible for the injury, whether through an intentional act or as the result of an accident or negligence, consult an attorney who is experienced with brain injuries to help you determine if you should file a lawsuit.
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