Indirect (Secondary) Effects After a Brain Injury
Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, can be a devastating thing. It can result in everything from personality changes to strokes, cranial or cerebral hemorrhage, embolism, or any of a slew of life-changing disabilities. However, many people don’t realize that many symptoms can occur days, weeks, months, or even years after the initial injury which can be just as devastating. These secondary injuries result from things that were set in motion by the initial trauma, but didn’t manifest as immediate symptoms.
If you don’t know what to do next, seeking the help of a medical professional is a wise idea, and it is always a good idea to seek the services of a qualified attorney after any accident.
Secondary Traumatic Brain Injury
The problem with traumatic brain injury is that it is both extremely common and at the same time easy to miss when a paramedic, surgeon or other medical professional is focused on saving the person’s life immediately. While medical technology has advanced to the point where in many cases TBI can be controlled and treated, it is still a significant source of disability.
Injuries from secondary TBI can result in loss of memory, inability to concentrate, abnormal speech, loss of language skills, difficulty thinking or controlling emotions.
Personality changes in the form of attention problems, mood swings, frustration and the like are common. These injuries can even result in a comatose state. It can take a long time to recover from a brain injury and the effects can be difficult on family and loved ones.
Many TBI symptoms do not manifest right away. Most accident victims who suffer any sort of head trauma are subjected to MRI and CAT scans to ensure that there is no immediate brain injury, after the patient is stabilized. Unfortunately, all too often these scans and tests fail to identify the potential secondary symptoms of brain injury.
Secondary symptoms from TBI can manifest hours, days, weeks, or even months after the initial injury. They can range from mild to severe, but can also be degenerative, meaning they get worse as time goes on. Secondary symptoms are broad and varied, and play a large role in brain damage that often results from TBI. While there are many different causes of secondary symptoms, they can include the following:
- Brain edema, or swelling. This can cause serious issues if not tended to, but can be extremely difficult to treat.
- Hydrocephalus, or the buildup of fluid inside the skull.
- Increased pressure in the skull, which can be the result of swelling or fluid buildup from hemorrhage or hydrocephalus.
- Abscess, or infection, inside the cranium. This is more common with trauma from an open wound than from injury like a concussion, but can occur in any TBI situation.
Symptoms of Secondary TBI
Severe secondary TBI symptoms can be far more devastating and result in cognitive impairment, sensory issues, speech and language problems, physical changes, and personality shifts. A few of the secondary symptoms you may experience after a traumatic brain injury follow.
- Lack of motivation
- Over-dependency on others
- Irritability, aggression, or inability to control anger
- Impulsive behavior
- Lack of awareness
- Paralysis, spasticity, or seizure
- Sleep disorders
- Lack of bowel or bladder control
- Changes in appetite
- Chronic pain
- Loss of or diminished sensitivity to senses, be it sight, smell, taste, vision, or hearing.
- Increased sensitivity to senses, particularly intolerance of light or sound
- Aphasia, or difficulty speaking or understanding the spoken word
- Attention, concentration, or memory issues
The above list is not exhaustive, but comprises many common symptoms of secondary severe traumatic brain injury.
Always Seek Help
Approximately 40% of people who suffer traumatic brain injury deteriorate rather than getting better, and secondary injury is responsible for a large percentage of the resulting brain damage. However, treatment options from physical therapy, to speech therapy to counseling and medication can help to right what is wrong and hopefully get the injury victim on the road to recovery.
It is important if you think you or a loved one is experiencing secondary TBI symptoms, to seek medical treatment and the services of a qualified attorney. Qualified attorneys have experience in dealing with the symptoms of TBI and can educate you on your rights and the responsibilities of the doctors treating you. They can also, if necessary, help you to gain compensation for your injuries to help you regain your quality of life and dignity.
You should also seek legal representation after any accident. Medical treatment can be expensive, and dealing with insurance companies and the other party in the accident is something that can often be best achieved by competent legal counsel, to spare you additional stress as you or your loved one seeks recovery.