Texas Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer
Houston Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney
Nothing is more important than your brain function. At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., we have seen how devastating an injury to the brain can be. You could be looking at life-long medical expenses and long-term care needs for your injured loved one. You need a traumatic brain injury attorney who is experienced at helping clients get to the right medical experts to determine the exact extent of brain function loss and prepare a future life-care plan. Our attorneys have helped many clients who sustained brain injuries in accidents ranging from falls from loading docks to auto collisions. Let us put our experience to work for you. Call for a free consultation today at (713) 932-0777.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic Brain Injury is an injury to the brain caused by blunt force. A TBI may be sustained in several ways and may vary in degree from minor to catastrophic. The injury itself may be the result of direct impact or trauma to the head, indirect trauma to the brain from impact with the skull, or from deprivation of oxygen to the brain sue to medical malpractice. If you have suffered a brain injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, call now for a free consultation with one of our lawyers to learn your rights: (713) 932-0777.
According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 1.7 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries annually. Over 70% of those are Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. TBI results from a blow to the head that may vary from a seemingly minor bump to a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal brain function or even a brain stem injury. The degree of injury encompassed under this terminology includes mild concussions to severe permanent life-long brain damage.
What is a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury?
According to the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee of the Head Injury Interdisciplinary Special Interest Group of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, a patient with MTBI is defined as follows:
a person who has had a traumatically induced physiological disruption of brain function, as manifested by at least one of the following:
- any period of loss of consciousness;
- any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the accident;
- any alteration in mental state at the time of the accident (eg, feeling dazed, disoriented, or confused); and
- focal neurological deficit(s) that may or may not be transient, but where the severity of the injury does not exceed the following:
- loss of consciousness of approximately 30 minutes or less;
- after 30 minutes, an initial Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) of 13–15; and
- posttraumatic amnesia (PTA) not greater than 24 hours.
The traumatically induced physiological disruption of brain function can be the result of the head being struck, the head striking an object or the brain undergoing an acceleration/deceleration movement (ie, whiplash) without direct external trauma to the head.
Generally, if the period of unconsciousness or altered mental state lasts shorter than a period of 30 minutes, the TBI will be classified as “mild.” Most documented traumatic brain injuries are classified as mild. (See Ruff, Ronald M. Mild traumatic brain injury and neural recovery: Rethinking the Debate, NeuroRehabilitation Vol 28, pages 167-180, 2011.)
What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. In medical records, you often find emergency medicine doctors identifying the signs of a mild traumatic brain injury with generic terms such as a “concussion” or “minor head injury.” It can be the result of a direct impact to the head or the result of an acceleration/deceleration injury. Other terms that may describe it include minor head trauma, closed head injury, minor TBI, and minor brain injury. 15% of people who sustain a mild traumatic brain injury will continue to have significant symptoms for longer than one year. For these people, the symptoms may never go away.
What is Post-Traumatic Brain Injury?
Post-traumatic brain injury typically refers to a brain injury that begins as the result of a specific traumatic event. It may be a sports injury or an automobile collision or a fall or any event that results in the brain being slammed back and forth inside the skull. It may also be the result of an object piercing the skull to injure the brain directly. While it is common to think of a brain injury as an event that occurs, many doctors prefer to think of it as a disease process with the traumatic event being the triggering event. Once the process starts, it may be influenced by additional outside factors or events, but the condition often acts as a disease once set in motion.
What is Post Concussion Syndrome?
Post-concussion syndrome refers to the collection of symptoms that follow a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury. There are numerous symptoms associated with TBI and the victim of the injury may have any mix of them. They may occur immediately or they may take days or even weeks to occur. Often, the person will look normal, but the cognitive effects of the injury will be present. This often leads to a misdiagnosis at the time of the initial injury. Common symptoms include:
- visual disturbances ranging from color changes to double-vision
- loss of memory (short term or long term)
- photophobia (sensitivity to light)
- dizziness or vertigo
- emotional disturbances
- impaired or slow thinking
What is a Cognitive Deficit?
Cognitive deficit is an impairment of a person’s ability to acquire and process knowledge and use it to understand the world.
How is a Cognitive Deficit Diagnosed?
Cognitive deficits are most often diagnosed clinically by a neurologist questioning the patient as to the symptoms and the patient reporting a mixture of symptoms that fall under the category of those seen in post-concussive syndrome and other brain injuries. The neurologist, then, will refer the patient out to a neuropsychologist for a two-day set of tests, including a General Diagnostic Battery and Neuropsychological Evaluation and also a Brain Injury Functional Evaluation Program.
What is a General Diagnostic Battery and Neuropsychological Evaluation?
A General Diagnostic Battery and Neuropsychological Evaluation is a series of tests performed by a neuropsychologist to evaluate a patient’s mental, cognitive, and emotional condition. This test generally takes about 4 hours to complete and it is completely noninvasive. Typically, a history is taken and then the test is performed. This test evaluates a patient in six areas:
- Intellectual capacity
- Higher cortical functioning
- learning and memory
- perceptual and motor, and;
- personality and mental health,
Additionally, the test has fail-safes built in to test the validity of the patient’s responses.
Intellectual capacity is measured using commonly accepted tests such as the WAIS-IV and the Full Scare I.Q. test. It measures verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed. Higher cortical functioning tests several brain functions including visual tracking, immediate auditory memory and information processing, numeric reasoning, and problem-solving skills. The Learning and memory exam tests the ability to recall things long term and short term as well as to identify images recently observed. Language is a test of reading, spelling, sentence repetition, and general academic functioning. Perceptual and motor tests a person’s visual-spatial function, visual form discrimination, hearing, and tactile function. Personality and mental health is an assessment of emotional distress in the patient.
What is a Brain Injury Functional Evaluation Program?
A Brain Injury Functional Evaluation Program is another series of tests designed to assess the impact of a patient’s cognitive deficit upon their daily function. Again, this is about a four-hour test and is usually done on a separate day from the General Diagnostic Battery and Neuropsychological Evaluation to avoid unnecessary stress and fatigue on the patient. The test involves a CNS Vital Signs Assessment, which is a computerized assessment of cognitive function. It tests many of the same things as the prior test. It also tests executive functioning including problem-solving, self-restraint, self-motivation, and self-regulation of emotions. Several activities are performed as a part of the test to analyze the patient’s functional cognitive activities. These test memory, ability to follow instruction, attention to visual details, cognitive flexibility, frustration control, dexterity, hand/eye coordination, following directions, comprehension, and math. In the end, the neuropsychologist is better able to understand the specific tasks of day-to-day functions that have been affected and design a cognitive rehabilitation program to help the patient work around them.
Can Mild Traumatic Brain Injury be Treated?
Only a qualified neuropsychologist can truly answer this question for any particular case. However, the above-tests are specifically aimed at determining whether there are areas in which the person’s quality of life may be improved. In many cases, the treatment is simply teaching a patient to learn to do things differently than they did them before. For example, one with memory issues can learn to keep notes and make lists as reminders. Essentially, the goal of the treating neuropsychologist is to teach the patient a new way to solve the issues that their brain struggles with now. With many patients, a return to a functional lifestyle is possible.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an emotional disorder affecting the way a person copes with things after having suffered a life-threatening or horrifying event. This may include depression, anxiety, or any number of emotional disturbances that follow a traumatic event. It may last only a short time or it may be permanent. Typically, PTSD is treated by psychiatric counseling to assist the patient in coping with the disorder. This type of treatment is commonly required to deal with things such as depression and/or anxiety that flows from the event that produced the TBI.
What Disorders are Associated with Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injury can cause serious and severe long-term issues, including memory loss, inability to perform reasoning tasks, difficulties in speech and communication, altered or decreased sensation, and emotional problems. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s disease, Wernicke-Korsokoff Syndrome, and other brain disorders.
What are Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries?
There are many causes of traumatic brain injuries. Some common causes include:
- Automobile accident victims can sustain concussions and even traumatic brain injury as a result of the whiplash effect on their heads and necks. The human brain is effectively floating inside the skull. When the head gets whipped back and forth in a motor vehicle accident, often the brain gets slammed into the insides of the skull resulting in the bursting of tiny blood vessels (hemorrhage).
- Sports injuries can result in mild or severe traumatic brain injuries. For more reading about sports-injury related concussions, please read the following articles:
High School Sports Injuries
NCAA Liability for Injuries to Student-Athletes
- Falls involving striking the head.
Brain Injury In Due to Oxygen Deprivation
The brain requires oxygen to function. When the oxygen supply is cut off, severe permanent brain damage can result. This type of injury is sometimes seen due to medical negligence. Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy occurs when there is a complete disruption of the flow of oxygen to the entire brain. This condition is most commonly seen in the medical malpractice realm as a result of one of the following types of brain injuries:
- Injuries during childbirth. Doctors attempting to force natural child-births when the baby is too large for the canal can result in an improper use of the forceps and/or vacuum systems resulting in skull compression and/or oxygen deprivation.
- Failure to monitor patients following surgery. When patients are sedated and their breathing slows or stops due to failure to monitor.
If your loved one has suffered from either of the above circumstances, you should speak to a Texas traumatic brain injury lawyer today.
What Tests are There for Traumatic Brain Injury?
Cognitive deficit testing is often necessary to evaluate and understand the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury. This involves a series of tests that study the motor skills, thinking, reasoning, recall, and discernment abilities of the brain. Diffusion Tensor Imaging is a new development in the diagnosis of brain injury using a diffusion MRI that provides detailed information about the structure of the brain by studying the diffusion of water molecules within the tissue. These types of testing can be very expensive if not covered by health insurance.
Are There Treatment Centers in Texas for Traumatic Brain Injury?
Texas has several TBI treatment centers in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. If someone you love has suffered a traumatic brain injury, you need to research traumatic brain injury treatment facilities and find the best one to fit their needs. Immediately after a TBI, you should call 911 and be taken to an ambulance immediately. Once you are released and considering your follow-up care, you do have options. Here are some of the TBI treatment centers available to you in Texas:
- Treatment Centers in Austin
- Treatment Centers in Dallas
- Treatment Centers in Houston
- Treatment Centers in San Antonio
At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., we can help you get to the right kind of medical, psychiatric, and psychological experts to evaluate and treat your injury. If you have or a loved one has suffered a head injury or concussion due to someone else’s negligence, call us for a free consultation about your case. We understand that brain injuries can be catastrophic. We have helped numerous families and victims since 1979 and we would be honored if you allow us to represent you. Speak to a TBI lawyer in Houston today! The initial consultation is always free and you don’t pay a dime unless we make a recovery on your behalf. Call us now at 1-800-298-0111.