Many people suffer brain injuries in accidents. Most common are mild traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Consequently, this post primarily discusses mild TBI. TBI is still one of the most underappreciated injuries. Juries, societies, insurance adjusters, and even some doctors, tend to underestimate the impact that a brain injury, even a mild brain injury, has one person. A broken bone is easy to understand or appreciate because one can see it on an x-ray. A person with a broken bone is obviously injured. Brain injuries are not always so simple.
There are certain clues you look for when determining or proving whether a mild TBI occurred. First, did the injured person hit their head against something? Obviously, a firsthand account from the injured person is the best place to start to answer this question. However, accidents can happen very quickly and memory isn’t always the most reliable source. Also, many people who suffer a concussion or mild TBI also have no memory of the event. Therefore, you need to look to more objective clues.
While hitting your head against something is not needed to suffer a mild TBI, it is an important factor to consider. You can bet that if someone has an open skull fracture, she hit her head and sustained some form of brain injury. Bruises and lacerations also indicate some form of impact. However, these clues can be absent even in the event that someone hits her head against an object. You may need to look at photographs of the scene to find impact marks, such as broken glass or dented dry wall for evidence of impact. Evidence of impact will help support that a brain injury occurred.
If there is no evidence that impact occurred, consider the effect of whiplash. If you are rear-ended in a car accident, for example, your neck will extend backward, then fly forward. This flexion/extension can stretch the brain stem. The stretching of the brain stem can easily cause TBI, and sometimes severe TBI. A properly situated head rest can minimize the effects of whiplash, so always make sure your headrest is at proper height before driving.
Next, take a look at the Glasgow Coma Scale. First responders and emergency personnel will regularly use the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) to measure one’s level of consciousness after an accident. GCS is especially useful in more acute trauma situations. GCS considers three main markers: Eye, Verbal, Motor. A patient is scored between 3 and 15, 3 being completely unconscious and 15 being completely conscious. For example, if a patient confused or disoriented, she might be a 13 on the GCS scale. A lower GCS score can be very effective in proving or supporting a TBI.
Most brain injuries are considered mild in nature.
You don’t need to hit your head to suffer a mild traumatic brain injury.
Advances in medicine continue to support the significant effects of mild TBI.
Symptoms of mild TBI are extensive