Brain and spinal injuries are devastating because the brain and the spinal cord work together to send messages to the rest of your body. Your brain is the reason why you breathe and function every day, while your spinal cord is responsible for sending messages to your body from the brain. If your spinal cord is damaged, messages may not get to where they are going fast enough—or at all.
If you have been one of the 400,000 people with head injuries or 10,000 with spinal cord injuries in the past year, then you know how such injuries can interfere with your quality of life. You also know about the financial consequences that result because brain and spinal surgeries, treatments, and therapies are very expensive and can add financial stress to your life.
Types of Brain Injuries
Brain injuries come in different forms. They include:
- Skull fractures
- Subdural hematomas
- Coup and countercoup brain injury
- Cerebral anoxia
- Permanent brain damage that can lead to lifelong disability
You should know that you do not have to lose consciousness for there to be a brain injury. If you have been in an accident in which you hit your head but did not lose consciousness, you may find that symptoms of brain injury show up later. For example, you could have a brain aneurysm, and as the bleeding persists you begin to become disoriented and have memory problems in the days following the accident.
You should also know that there is no such thing as a minor brain injury. The reason is that it can progress over time. Nevertheless, any type of trauma to the brain can be rather devastating because it will have some kind of impact on your overall function. It doesn't matter if you were injured in a slip and fall accident that you didn't deem to be severe, or if you were involved in an auto accident in which you escaped with no broken bones or visible injuries. It's the invisible injury that can be even more devastating.
Types of Spinal Injuries
Spinal injuries, just like brain injuries, have many forms. They can include:
- Back injuries
- Compression fractures
- Herniated discs
- Soft tissue injuries
- Spinal stenosis
- Compression fractures
- And many more
While there are more than 10,000 individuals experiencing spinal injuries each year, there are more than 250,000 people in the United States living with these injuries. The spine protects the spinal cord from injury, and when the spinal cord is injured paralysis and a host of other permanent disabilities can result. Plus, injury to the backbone is very painful due to the bundles of nerves that make up the spinal cord. Individuals with back injuries have a quality of life that is severely impaired.
Brain Injury Symptoms
When a person sustains an open-head injury, such as a penetrating injury, it is almost always immediately obvious that the person has suffered a brain injury. However, it can be more difficult to tell when someone has sustained brain damage after a closed-head injury, such as a concussion or subdural hematoma.
If you or another person suffers a blow to the head or is involved in any type of traumatic accident, keep an eye out for the following brain injury symptoms:
- Loss of consciousness (can range from a few seconds to hours)
- Confusion and disorientation
- Trouble remembering the accident and other memory problems
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurred vision
- Fatigue or excessive sleepiness
- Inability to sleep (insomnia)
- Dilated pupils
- Clear fluid draining from nose or ears
- Trouble waking up
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sensitivity to bright light/loud noises
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Mood swings
If you notice any signs of a traumatic brain injury in yourself or someone else after an accident, seek immediate medical attention. While more severe symptoms often point to more severe damage, relatively mild symptoms are not reason to put off seeing a doctor.
Spinal Cord Injury Symptoms
In some cases, such as when a victim suffers paralysis or similarly obvious effects, spinal cord injuries are easy to detect. In other instances, however, it may not be so obvious that you or another person has, indeed, suffered damage to the spine.
After an accident or traumatic event, the following symptoms could indicate a spinal cord injury:
- Difficulty walking, standing, or sitting up
- Inability to move the limbs (including both arms and/or legs)
- Numbness/tingling that spreads to extremities
- Unnatural head position
- Persistent pain, stiffness, or a feeling of pressure in the back and/or neck
- Loss of consciousness
- Incontinence (loss of bladder/bowel control)
If you suspect that you or someone else has sustained a spinal cord injury, do not attempt to move/move the injured person. Doing so could result in further injury. The injured individual should remain as still as possible until medical help arrives. Call 911 right away and request an ambulance. When paramedics arrive, inform them of the suspected spinal cord injury so they can begin proper protocols.
Brain & Spinal Injury Claims
While the physical aspects may last a lifetime, the financial aspects don't have to. You can file a claim against the person or parties responsible for your brain or spinal injuries. This claim may include your past, present, and future medical expenses that are related to the accident, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. It is the goal of your Minneapolis brain and spinal injury attorney to make sure you get the most money possible and that you do not have to accept settlements offered by the insurance company of the responsible party. You may be entitled to much more than that.
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain or spinal injury, your life has been disrupted enough as it is. You don't need any more disruption in the way of medical bills coming through the mail while your income is reduced due to your inability to work and pay the bills. You need a caring and aggressive attorney working for you who will inform you of your rights and let you know what all of your options are.
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