Brain Injuries Need Immediate Treatment

In 2009, actress Natasha Richardson fell during a beginner skiing lesson. Early on, she did not appear to be seriously hurt at all. She talked and made jokes before returning to her hotel room. There, however, she complained of head pain and was taken to a hospital. Richardson later died of an epidural hematoma, a brain injury that happens when the arteries tear after the skull is struck hard, resulting in bleeding.

Richardson's tragic story illustrates two important points about brain injuries. First, brain injuries can happen to anyone and from nearly any type of accident. Second, even though symptoms may not appear immediately, immediate treatment is critical.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) happen when a blow to the head or a penetrating injury disrupts normal brain activity. They are actually very common—about 3.5 million people suffered from a TBI in 2009, though most were concussions. TBIs contribute to nearly one-third of all injury-related deaths in this country.

Common Causes of Brain Injuries

The cause of Natasha Richardson's brain injury was one of the most common accidents known to cause brain injuries: a simple fall.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • 35.2 percent of brain injuries happen from falls
  • 17.2 percent happen from traffic accidents
  • 16.5 percent happen when a victim is struck by or against an object
  • 10 percent happen from assaults
  • 21 percent have unknown or other causes

In short, any accident or incident that causes a blow to the head can cause a brain injury. The potential for serious long-term impacts is a major reason why people with brain injuries should seek an immediate evaluation.

What Happens After a Brain Injury

Brain injuries are complex to treat. This is because a brain injury is rarely just one injury. Instead, further damage develops after the initial impact. TBIs involve primary injuries, which happen initially, and secondary injuries. While doctors can't treat primary injuries, they can reduce the restricted blood supply and other secondary injuries to the brain.

According to a presentation by a doctor with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, secondary injuries may follow this pattern after a brain injury:

  • 0 to 6 hours: The development of ischemia, or restricted blood supply to tissues. Autoregulatory systems may be affected.
  • 7 to 36 hours: Hyperthermia may develop. Inflammation and other changes may occur. Treatments may have unpredictable results.
  • 1 to 7 days: Edema, or fluid in the brain, may develop. Blood flow may increase. Ultimately, cell death and brain death may occur.

These changes show why immediate care for a brain injury is critical. Emergency care providers will ensure that the brain injury victim has enough oxygen and an adequate blood supply after the accident. They will also maintain pressure and work to prevent further injury. Treatment will typically focus on reducing the secondary effects of inflammation, bleeding, and reduced oxygen to the brain.

Contact an Los Angeles Injury Attorney

If a loved one has suffered a severe brain injury, your first priority is to help him or her through the first hours and days of treatment. Brain injuries may require extended periods of rehabilitation and lengthy treatments. An experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in these cases understands how brain injuries happen, the full range of consequences these injuries can bring, and how to litigate cases involving TBI.

You need a legal advocate who is focused on obtaining maximum compensation to pay for medical care, make up for lost earnings, and compensate for the diminished quality and enjoyment of life that brain injury victims suffer from.