What is a Brain Injury?

A man consults with a doctor after suffering a traumatic brain injury in Houston, Texas.

Unfortunately, ordinary events lead to many brain injuries, car accidents happen every day in Austin, injuries occur in high school sports, on the field and on the court and old folks, going about their day, will suffer a sudden stroke. These injuries can be life threatening and life altering. As a parent you’ll want to know how a brain injury will impact your child, and as a son or daughter you’ll be concerned about the well-being of your elderly parents. When you understand the basics of head injuries you’re in a better position to find treatment and rehabilitation options for your loved ones.

A brain injury requires immediate medical attention. Under the watchful eye of a doctor, and the support of an extended care team, these injuries, thankfully, can be treated and a majority of those suffering can recover and continue to enjoy their life with friends and family. Experts categorize head injuries into two categories: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Acquired brain injury (ABI).

What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic Brain Injury is brought on by external events that impact the head. These events can be the result of:

  • Injuries from playing contact sports, either professionally or in organized leagues, affect kids as well as adults
  • Car and truck accidents where the injury is a result of the trauma suffered from hitting your head on the steering wheel or dashboard
  • Injuries at work such as the impact of falling objects on an oil rig or construction site falls
  • Elderly people who slip and fall at home

What is Acquired Brain Injury?

Acquired Brain Injury can be brought about by internal events such as:

  • A stroke limits the amount of oxygen flowing to the brain which in turn causes injury to the brain
  • Infectious diseases such as Meningitis and Encephalitis can cause inflammation of the brain
  • Toxic exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning, or lead exposure can affect the central nervous system and cause a brain injury
  • Tumors can damage the brain because of the pressure they create on the brain

Evaluating an Injury Using the Rancho Los Amigos Scale

Named after a rehabilitation center in Los Angeles, the Rancho Los Amigos scale is used by doctors to assess the levels of cognitive function in individuals who’ve suffered very serious closed-head injuries. The levels are numbered 1 to 10, with 1 representing a person in a coma to 10 a person living independently, who can handle daily tasks in a way similar to their pre-injury condition.

For example, after suffering a moderate to severe brain injury, a patient may be in a level 5 state. In this situation, you’d typically be an in-patient at a rehabilitation center since you’d require almost constant assistance with daily tasks. You would exhibit the following:

  • Disoriented behavior, as you may not know what time it is or what day it is
  • Your memory, especially recent memory, would be impaired
  • Able to respond to and perform simple tasks only with direction from others
  • Converse with others but only for brief periods

Luckily, the vast majority of people who suffer brain injuries recover to the upper end of the Ranch Los Amigos scale. At level 10 you’d be able to live independently and work again. You may have some ongoing lingering effects from the brain injury where you’re easily frustrated or at times mildly irritable.

When you reach the rehabilitation stage of your treatment, healthcare professionals will use the Ranch Los Amigos scale to create a treatment plan specifically tailored to your needs. In addition, your family and friends will be an important extension of these professionals to give you added support in your recovery.

What are the Effects of a Brain Injury?

Brain injuries lead to a number conditions that will present challenges to you immediately after the event or accident. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of treatments available to help you get better and cope with the injury. The effects of your brain injury can include:

  • Cognitive issues where you can’t remember what you did an hour ago or what you’re supposed to do now. You may have trouble recalling people’s names or recalling certain plays for your basketball, football or baseball team.
  • Physical impairments, most commonly headaches from concussions or a lack of coordination from a stroke.
  • Emotional distress such as depression or anxiety, if you have a job a brain injury will temporarily impact your ability to work and earn a living, an incredibly difficult situation to manage.
  • Behavioral effects can manifest themselves with sudden changes in mood, irritableness and a short temper.

Those who suffer from the after effects of a brain injury need the support of doctors, therapists and most importantly family. With time, rest and care from your medical providers you can recover fully or at least manage your injury.

Brain Injury Treatment and Recovery?

If you’re recovering from a head injury due to a car accident or workplace injury it will take time. Don’t continue your normal busy work schedule or continue your regular daily activities such as cleaning the house or working out. If you just pretend that nothing is wrong, you won’t get any better.

You should always take your doctor’s advice, and:

  • Take time off of work, rest during the day and get plenty of sleep at night
  • Take a break from working out since strenuous exercise will slow your recovery
  • Avoid playing video games, gaming on PlayStation or using your computer, the stress on your brain will lead to headaches and a longer recovery
  • Get support from your work so they’ll understand the seriousness of our injury and help you fully recover

Rehabilitation for your Brain Injury

After receiving initial treatment for you brain injury a period of rehabilitation will follow. This is the case for serious types of injury such as a concussion suffered in a car accident or from a stroke. The length of time for rehab and the type of therapy you receive will vary.

The services you receive may be in-patient or out-patient at a hospital or in-home care. Your care team will advise you and your family and you should follow their advice. For traumatic brain injuries from a sports related concussion or a work injury your rehab could include:

  • Monitoring your general feeling day to day, frequency of headaches, dizziness, testing of your balance and coordination
  • Physical therapy if you’re active in sports or if your job is primarily physical in nature such as working in construction or in the oil and gas industry
  • Psychological treatment and therapy to help you with moodiness, depression and agitative behaviors

For acquired brain injuries you’ll require a different type of rehab:

  • Speech and language therapy to recover from a stroke
  • Strength and coordination therapy to assist you with day-to-day activities like walking, getting dressed, cleaning your house and cooking
  • Rehab for your cognitive abilities, so you can understand conversations with others and regain your memory retention, reading and comprehension skills

If you or a family member suffered a brain injury in a car accident or at work, call Nicholas Fleming and the attorneys at Fleming Law, P.C. The consultation and advice are free and you won’t pay ANYTHING until or unless the attorney wins a settlement for you. Call 713-221-6800 or send us a message here.

nicholas fleming

Nicholas P. Fleming focuses his practice in the area of civil litigation. As a skilled personal injury attorney, he handles a broad range of cases including motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, workplace accidents, and wrongful death. He is licensed to practice by the State Bar of Texas and is a graduate of the South Texas College of Law, earning his J.D. in 2017. Nicholas prides himself on providing personalized service to his clients, who are often facing extremely stressful situations.