Recent cases handled by our firm have underlined what many now know: traumatic brain injuries are taking a silent but crippling toll on people who receive blows to the head. The fact that people get hit in the head, of course, is not new. What is new is the evolving science and the knowledge that even moderate blows can have life-changing consequences.
In recent cases, clients have come to us with a variety of unusual incidents to report: merchandise which has fallen off of retail shelves, equipment which has fallen off of the wall in a healthcare provider’s office, and (yes) automobile accidents. Each of these recent cases handled by our firm is notable for the moderate degree of the blow. In each case, there was no fracturing of the skull and, in fact, very few outward signs of injury. In earlier times, it is likely that the full extent of the injuries may not have been explored or known.
Fortunately, our office, and many others like it, have continued to stay current with recent medical research. Driven primarily by the effects of injuries to service members overseas and the NFL concussion crisis, these studies have shown definitively that even so-called “mild/moderate traumatic brain injury” can have devastating effects on a person. Those effects take many different forms. Physically, they may entail loss of consciousness, cuts and abrasions, dizziness, auditory problems, visual impairments, depression, etc. Cognitively, patients may experience forgetfulness, confusion, transient memory loss, difficulty concentrating, etc. What is most significant from a legal point of view is the potentially permanent nature of these injuries. While so-called “Post-Concussive Syndrome” may pass within several months, true traumatic brain injury or “TBI” can be permanent. Thus, even a mild disruption to a person’s cognitive function can, in fact, constitute a significant personal injury case once it is proven that the symptoms will never go away. Imagine the devastating effects of such a diagnosis in a young person who may have to grapple with these injuries for a lifetime.
When coupled with the resistance of many healthcare providers to make such a diagnosis, it is clear that some significant advocacy is required. For this reason, our office has taken the initiative to associate with some of the leading head injury specialists around the country. In fact, some of them are right here in Virginia. We take a proactive approach and ease the patient/client’s transition to specialized care. Once a diagnosis is made, we help the client in the recovery aspect of their new post-injury reality. It is particularly gratifying when a person can achieve a new reality which has been significantly assisted by our team and by competent health care providers.
The important thing is for patients, clients and patients’ relatives to be on the lookout for significant symptoms. Once they are spotted, the right mix of tramatic brain injury professionals can help to achieve an optimal medical and legal outcome.