A traumatic brain injury can arise from nearly any type of serious personal injury. TBIs are common in car accidents and motorcycle accidents, but they also happen in construction accidents, while playing sports and even at home. Any significant bang to the head, whether from being hit with an object, slamming against the windshield of a car or a fall, can cause a concussion and potentially result in a TBI.
One thing that makes life difficult for people with TBIs, in terms of managing their symptoms, setting expectations in those around them and proving up damages in a personal injury case, is that symptoms are inconsistent and unpredictable from one patient to the next.
Now, a growing body of medical research may help address each of those problems.
Some of the most common symptoms of TBI include:
The degree of neurological and cognitive function impairment may vary dramatically from one patient to the next, even where the nature and severity of the injury was similar. Some of these and other post-head-injury symptoms are sometimes diagnosed, rightly or wrongly, as psychological.
In addition to making it difficult to predict and prove the anticipated duration of symptoms and extent of limitations, this uncertainty and inconsistency opens the door for insurance company lawyers to argue that plaintiffs are exaggerating symptoms. Expert witnesses are virtually always required to establish the extent of injuries and the anticipated duration in personal injury case involving a TBI.
However, traumatic brain injuries have received a lot of attention recently, including lawsuits against the National Football League and a movie starring Will Smith. Some of that attention has been behind the scenes, where medical researchers have been digging deeper into the reasons for the differences outcomes in TBI cases and how that knowledge might allow medical professional to better treat patients with head injuries.
Researchers at Penn State recently determined that genetics plays an important role in the severity and nature of post-concussion symptoms. Specifically, researchers found that among a group of athletes who had suffered head injuries, those with the gene apolipoprotein E (APOE) experienced more serious symptoms overall. In particular, this group experienced more physical and cognitive issues.
In plain English, that means people with a certain gene are more likely to have more pain and other physical symptoms and are more likely to have their memories, problem solving skills and other mental processes affected.
This research is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding and treating TBIs. However, the presence of a concrete differentiator is one step toward expert witnesses to more clearly establish damages in cases where the plaintiff’s symptoms are more serious and limitations more extensive.
A study conducted at the University of Iowa suggests that therapeutic treatment of axons within 24-36 hours after impact could prevent the development of neurological symptoms after a brain injury. That’s a pretty complex concept, but the bottom line is that the research indicates that in the relatively near future, proper treatment after a head injury may reduce or eliminate some significant effects of TBI.
Our traumatic brain injury attorneys have extensive experience in protecting the rights of people with TBIs and helping them recover the compensation they need to rebuild their lives. We make it our business to stay informed of new developments and connect with experts who understand the latest research and can put that data to work for you.
If you’ve suffered a TBI, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.