Anoka/Elk River Brain
Injury Lawyer

Brain Injury: The Invisible Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is not like any other injury. Sadly, because many of the symptoms of “mild” to “moderate” traumatic brain injury are subtle, and because the injury commonly avoids detection on our most sophisticated hospital imaging equipment, many times brain injuries/concussions go undiagnosed. This is especially so in the emergency room.

Due to the invisible nature of the injury, victims of traumatic brain injury only rarely receive prompt treatment for their physical and cognitive impairment. Not uncommonly, victims’ early medical charts are devoid of any mention of “head injury” or “cognitive impairment”. It is only later, if lucky, that a health care professional validates the victims’ injury, and treatment finally ensues.

As with most misunderstood injuries, society and “old school” health care practitioners, are apt to label the TBI victim a malingerer, or worse. Because victims of traumatic brain injury appear outwardly just as they did before the injury, it should come as no surprise that many victims describe their post-injury experience as including progressive social isolation together with alienation from even immediate family.

Practically, victims of TBI are unable to process information at pre-injury rates of speed. Nor is the range of subject matter about which an individual can think the same for a victim of traumatic brain injury. Accurate judgment becomes difficult, at best. Communication is oftentimes stifled, and the ability to conform behavior is impaired. Violent behavior may manifest as a result of frustration and inability to respond in a pre-morbid (pre-injury) manner.

Headaches are common, and smell and taste can be affected. Memory and recall are often times profoundly affected.

Conscious or unconscious awareness of the situation becomes the private “hell” of the victim, who is alone and unable to diagnose or resolve the injury. Describing this unfortunate circumstance, left to fend for themselves, the victims of traumatic brain injury, already confused by their inability to be the people they were prior to the injury, now face the daunting task of demonstrating that an injury they do not understand and cannot comprehend is producing the confusion they cannot communicate.

If you or someone you know has sustained a brain injury as the result of an accident, please call the offices of Malzahn Law, Ltd. for free legal advice.

Brain Injury: Concussion in Sports

Concussion is defined as a traumatically induced alteration in mental status, not necessarily with loss of consciousness, and is a common form of sports-related injury.

Traumatic brain injury is common in contact sports, with an estimated 250,000 concussions and an average of eight deaths due to head injuries occurring every year in football alone. Twenty percent of football players suffer concussion during a single football season, and some more than once. Repeated concussions can lead to brain atrophy and cumulative neuropsychological deficits. Repeated concussions occurring within a short period can be fatal.

Unfortunately, many physicians, coaches, athletes, and athletic trainers trivialize and dismiss the dangerous possibility of a traumatic brain injury and allow a hurt young person to continue to play.

Repeated concussions can pre-dispose the brain to vascular congestion from autoregulatory dysfunction. The congestion leads to elevation of pressure and brain swelling.

Amnesia and confusion following an impact to the head are the hallmarks of concussion. Amnesia associated with concussion can be instantaneous, or delayed by several minutes. The delayed onset of amnesia or post-concussion symptoms demonstrates a pathological process occurring gradually.

This entire process is missed entirely if the athlete is returned to the event too early.

The Colorado Medical Society has set forth guidelines for the management of concussions in sports. Categorizing severity of concussion into three grades, recommendations regarding treatment and continuing participation attach to each grade. These guidelines are set forth below:

“Grade No. 1: Confusion Without Amnesia, No Loss of Consciousness. Remove from contest. Examine immediately and every five minutes for the development of amnesia or post-concussive symptoms at rest and with exertion. Permit to return to contest if amnesia does not appear and no symptoms appear for at least twenty minutes.

Grade No. 2: Confusion With Amnesia, No Loss of Consciousness. Remove from contest and disallow return. Examine frequently for signs of evolving intracranial pathology. Re-examine the next day. Permit return to practice after one full week without symptoms.

Grade No. 3: Loss of Consciousness. Transport from the field to the nearest hospital by ambulance (with cervical spine immobilization if indicated). Perform thorough neurologic evaluation emergently. Admit to hospital if signs of pathology are detected. If findings are normal, instruct family for overnight observation. Permit return to practice only after two full weeks without symptoms.

Prolonged unconsciousness, persistent mental status alterations, worsening post-concussion symptoms, or abnormalities on neurologic examination require urgent neurosurgical consultation or transfer to a trauma center.”

The overwhelming concern is that those sustaining concussion during sports activity are immediately and promptly treated. The risk of second impact syndrome is significant and its consequences severe. In “second impact syndrome” the victim is thought to have sustained a second concussion while still symptomatic from an earlier concussion. The victim often suffers cerebral vascular congestion leading to malignant brain swelling and marked increase in intracranial pressure. Brain swelling is many times difficult, if not impossible, to control.

If you or someone you know has sustained a brain injury as the result of an accident, please call the offices of Malzahn Law, Ltd. for free legal advice.

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Our law firm represents clients throughout Minnesota. If you or someone you know has been seriously injured, contact Mark W. Malzahn today for a free case consultation. With offices in Anoka and Elk River, we have a location near you. Call our Anoka office at 763-421-2160 or our Elk River office at 763-441-4040 and speak to attorney Mark W. Malzahn.