The term “mild” when used to describe the severity of brain injury, is very deceptive. It refers only to initial trauma, and means virtually nothing when it comes to the long term outcome for brain injured person. Damage to the brain can continue to progress for up to 72 hours after the initial injury. A mild brain injury can cause permanent disability.
The progression of brain injury
Most people believe that when a brain injury victim regains consciousness the damage has stopped. Nothing could be further from the truth. Damage can continue to occur within the brain for the next three days. Bleeding and swelling inside the brain can cut off the oxygen supply killing brain cells. Harder to detect is damage which occurs on a cellular level due to ionic changes.
Most emergency rooms do not advise brain injury patients to return for follow up the next day, even though symptoms are often worse 12 hours after the initial injury. Brain injury victims do not know that they should return for a follow up evaluation, and are not warned of the signs that further damage is occurring. Symptoms may not be present in the first few hours after injury, but over the next 72 hours confusion and amnesia often develop. Even loss of consciousness may be delayed, and if it occurs after the patient has gone home and gone to sleep, it may go undetected.
Medical records are often misleading, indicating only minor symptoms or no symptoms and a brief loss of consciousness or no loss of consciousness at all.
Brain injuries overlooked
When a brain injury occurs with no loss of consciousness or no blow to the head, it often goes undetected. A blow to the head is not required for the brain to be injured. Sudden acceleration and deceleration forces, violently jarring the brain inside of the skull can stretch and tear nerves, and/or cause the brain to make impact with the inside of the skull causing severe injury. This is a common result in whiplash.
Even though doctors should suspect brain injury when other serious injuries are present, they often fail to check for injury to the bread if there is no visible head wound.
Long term impact
Mild brain injury can cause short or long term disability. Many patients experience a full recovery, but those who do not are often misdiagnosed and do not receive the appropriate treatment. Post concussion syndrome is a group of disorders and symptoms which often affect people with mild brain injuries and can last for several months or even years.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, contact an experienced brain injury attorney today.