Neurological Injury Lawsuit
Injuries that affect the brain, spine, and their connecting nerves have the potential to cause dangerous, lifelong conditions in the injured person. Neurological injuries can cause short and long-term damage to the brain depending on the severity of the injury, potentially turning a person’s world upside down in an instance.
There are hundreds of different types of neurological disorders that can also affect the brain and other parts of the body, including Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and brain tumors. Neurological injuries are just as numerous and can be caused by accidents, trauma, abuse, birth injuries, and genetic diseases, among other things.
Severe Neurological Injury and their Signs and Symptoms
Treating neurological injuries and disorders can be difficult and expensive. It may be hard for some patients to see a neurologist―a doctor that specializes in disorders of the brain and spine―for insurance reasons, or if the patient lives in a rural area and must travel long distances to see a specialist.
When these types of injuries are caused by an accident or other reason that was no fault of the injured person, it can be especially burdensome to that person and their loved ones. Disasters such as a slip and fall, a birth injury, or a car accident can be due to the negligence of another person or business, including medical malpractice on the part of a doctor or hospital.
The Brain Injury Association of America, an advocacy organization that helps people who suffered brain injuries through medical research and treatment, describes traumatic brain injuries like this:
“Brain injury is unpredictable in its consequences. Brain injury affects who we are and the way we think, act and feel. It can change everything about us in a matter of seconds.”
People who were injured because of potential negligence or medical malpractice may choose to take legal action against the responsible party. They may decide to file a personal injury lawsuit or medical malpractice lawsuit to try and recoup the damages they incurred as a result of their injuries, like lost wages and past and future medical bills. Pursuing this type of litigation is also a chance to hold the responsible party accountable for their negligence.
Contact an experienced attorney today to see if you qualify for a claim.
Neurological Injury Definition
A neurological injury is an injury to the brain, spine, or the nerves that connect them. There are over 600 types of neurological disorders that can affect these parts of the body, including Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, and a host of others. These disorders can sometimes be hereditary, passed down from parent to child through the genes.
Other injuries to the brain and spine can happen as a result of external trauma, such as a blow to the head or other head injuries. These types of injuries can cause symptoms like blurred vision or loss of consciousness, and if very severe, can even land a person in a vegetative state. Depending on the severity of the injury, neurological injuries can cause lifelong symptoms in the injured person, such as brain damage and paralysis.
Neurological injuries are not always easy to treat. Unlike a broken bone that can be set in a cast, injuries to the brain can require intense, specialized treatment that can quickly rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Surgery, physical therapy, behavioral psychology, and prescription medications may all be used to treat neurological injuries or disorders.
Types of Severe Neurological Injuries
There are hundreds of different kinds of neurological disorders, and they present themselves in different ways and to varying degrees. These types of disorders affect the brain, spine, and nervous systems, and can be caused by many different things.
Some neurological conditions include:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Brain aneurysm
- Brain tumors
- Memory disorders
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Spinal cord tumor
Some types of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, can cause symptoms of some of these disorders, such as a headache or seizures. An injury to the brain can also lead to moderate to severe brain damage, skull fracture, and decreased brain function. Signs and symptoms of these injuries can sometimes take days or weeks to appear.
Neurological Injury Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of neurological injuries can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the part of the body affected. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke advises that anyone who has signs or symptoms of TBI should seek medical treatment right away.
Symptoms of TBI can be physical or mental. Mild traumatic brain injury may cause symptoms like headaches, confusion, and nausea, while severe traumatic brain injury can cause symptoms like loss of consciousness, vomiting, and convulsions or seizures. It is essential to seek medical attention right away even if the symptoms seem mild. Brain injuries can lead to more severe symptoms if left untreated, and may also lead to death if treatment is not sought right away.
Some signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury include:
- Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
- Being dazed, confused, or disoriented
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Problems with speech
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sleeping more than usual
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth or changes in the ability to smell
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Memory or concentration problems
- Mood changes or mood swings
- Feeling depressed or anxious
Signs and symptoms of moderate to severe traumatic brain injury may include any of the symptoms mentioned above of mild injury, as well as the following:
- Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
- Persistent headache or a headache that worsens
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
- Loss of coordination
- Profound confusion
- Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior
- Slurred speech
- Coma and other disorders of consciousness
Causes of Neurological Injuries
The origins of neurological injuries vary. While injuries to the brain and spine, typically caused by trauma or an accident, can cause neurological disorders; as a result, other neurological disorders can be caused by genetic diseases, infection, or other lifestyle-related causes.
Falls - Falls are one of the most common causes of traumatic brain injury and can happen from a bed, ladder, downstairs, in the bath, and other places. These types of falls are common especially in older adults and young children.
Car Accidents - Car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and bicycle accidents are other common causes of traumatic brain injury. Pedestrians involved in these types of accidents are also at risk for TBI.
Domestic and other violence - Domestic violence, child abuse, gunshot wounds, and other assaults are, unfortunately, common causes of traumatic brain injury.
Sports-related injuries - Sports can also be a cause of traumatic brain injuries. Football, soccer, boxing, hockey, lacrosse, and other high-impact sports put athletes at-risk for these types of injuries.
Combat injuries - Combat injuries, including from explosive blasts, penetrating wounds, blows to the head, falls or bodily collisions, are common causes of traumatic brain injury in active-duty military personnel.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Injuries to the head can be severe and need to be treated right away by a healthcare provider. Complications can worsen the longer you wait to get treatment. Doctors use the Glasgow Coma Scale to assess the severity of a brain injury. This includes checking the person’s ability to follow directions and move their eyes and limbs. The coherence of the person’s speech can also be an important indicator of a traumatic brain injury. The Glasgow Coma Scale scores abilities from 3 to 15, with a higher score for severe meaningless injuries.
Witnesses to an injury may also be able to provide critical information to doctors that can be used during diagnosis. The following questions may help doctors judge the severity of injuries:
- How did the injury happen?
- Did the injured person lose consciousness?
- If so, how long was the person unconscious?
- Were there any changes in alertness, speaking, coordination, or other possible signs of injury?
- Where did the person get injured? What part of the body or head was struck?
- With how much force was the person struck? What hit the person’s head? Did they fall from a height or were they thrown from a vehicle?
- Was the person’s body whipped around or jarred?
CT scan - a CT scan, or computerized technology scan, is an important test used by doctors to create a detailed view of the brain. It is usually the first test performed in an emergency room when a person comes in with suspected brain trauma. CT scans use a series of X-rays to create a detailed view of the brain. It can quickly show fractures and evidence of bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage), blood clots, bruised brain tissue (contusions), and brain swelling.
MRI - An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses magnets and powerful radio waves to create a detailed picture of the brain. These tests are typically used after a person’s condition stabilizes or if the symptoms do not improve after the injury.
Intracranial pressure monitor - Doctors may use an intracranial pressure monitor to keep an eye on brain tissue swelling following a traumatic injury. To do this, they may insert a probe into the skull to monitor pressure. Traumatic brain injury can cause tissue swelling that increases the pressure inside the skull and may cause additional damage to the brain.
The treatment of neurological injuries depends on the severity of the injuries. If injuries are mild, the only treatment required is usually rest and over-the-counter pain medications to treat a headache. Even with slight injuries, patients need to be monitored closely to make sure symptoms don’t worsen, or new signs don’t appear. Follow-up visits with the doctor may be part of the treatment.
Patients with even mild symptoms of traumatic brain injury may need to stop working until their symptoms go away. This means limiting physical and cognitive activities that may make things worse while a patient is trying to heal. Their doctor will say when it is safe to return to work, school, and other recreational activities.
Treatment Immediately Following an Injury
When a person’s injuries are moderate to severe, emergency care immediately following the injury is essential to ensure a person’s injuries don’t progress further. Doctors and emergency room nurses will make sure the patient has enough oxygen and adequate blood supply. They will also maintain blood pressure and prevent further injury to the head or neck by stabilizing them.
There may be other injuries that also need attention from doctors and emergency room staff. Treatment of secondary injuries will usually focus on minimizing damage from inflammation, bleeding, or reduced oxygen supply to the brain and other organs.
Medication - Doctors may use many different medications to treat symptoms of neurological injuries. Medications can help prevent or limit additional damage to the brain following an injury. These medicines include:
Diuretics - Diuretics can help reduce the amount of fluid in tissues, as well as increased urination. When given through an IV (intravenous), they can help reduce pressure inside the brain.
Anti-seizure drugs - Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury puts the person at risk for seizures. This is true especially during the first week after the injury. Seizures can cause additional harm to the brain, so it is essential to prevent them from happening by administering anti-seizure drugs.
Coma-inducing drugs - Doctors may use drugs that intentionally put a person into a temporary coma if their injuries are severe enough. When in a coma, a person’s brain needs less oxygen to function, and this can be beneficial to patients whose blood vessels were compressed during an injury and are, therefore, unable to supply enough nutrients and oxygen to brain cells.
Surgery - Doctors may perform emergency surgery to prevent additional damage to brain tissue. Many neurological injury problems may warrant the need for surgery. These include:
Removing blood clots:
bleeding that occurs outside or within the brain can collect in clots (called hematomas) that put pressure on the brain and damage tissues. Surgery can remove these clots and prevent further damage.
Repairing fractures in the skull:
Skull fractures may occur as a result of a blow to the head or another traumatic injury. Surgery can repair those fractures and remove pieces of skull in the brain.
Bleeding in the brain - Some head injuries may cause bleeding in the brain, and surgery may be required to stop it.
Opening a “window” in the skull:
When pressure builds in the brain to a dangerous degree, doctors may relieve pressure by creating a “window” in the skull. This is done by draining the cerebral spinal fluid that has built up as a result of swelling, or by creating a “window” in the skull that provides more room for swollen tissues.
Rehabilitation Following Traumatic Brain Injury
Depending on the severity of the injury, a person who has suffered traumatic brain injury may need to relearn basic skills, like walking and talking, and this is done through rehabilitation. Most people who have experienced a significant brain injury will require some form of rehab. The goal of rehab is to improve a person’s abilities enough for them to perform their daily activities.
Rehabilitation therapy usually begins in the hospital and continues in an inpatient rehab center or at home through outpatient services. The type and duration of rehab depend on the severity of the injuries and is different for everyone. It may also depend on the area of the brain that was injured.
There are many different specialists involved in rehabilitation services. These specialists include psychiatrists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech and language pathologists, neuropsychologists, social workers or case managers, rehabilitation nurses, traumatic brain injury nurse specialists, recreational therapists, and vocational counselors.
Patients may work with a team of specialists on their road to recovery.