Traumatic brain injuries are a serious public health concern that is more widespread and common than people might realize. While most New Jersey residents are aware that a head injury is a likely outcome in a car accident or a serious fall, many not know that one can occur in more ordinary circumstances. Minor falls, sports related injuries, and sudden jerks can all have a negative, long-term effect on a person’s ability to function day-to-day.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 1.7 million people who sustain head injuries each year across the nation. In New Jersey, about 9,000 brain injuries result in hospitalization or death annually. Many more head trauma cases are seen in the emergency department and released. While the physical effects of head trauma are generally clear right away, the cognitive and emotional problems that can occur often do not manifest immediately, or they may not be recognized because they can be subtle.
Many head injuries can result in severe, temporary or permanent impairment in one or more areas of functioning. Even a mild head injury can require lifelong treatment or accommodation. Concussion can occur with either a closed or open injury and can take from months to years to heal. Contusions are bruises on the brain that may require surgery, and can have the same effects as concussions. Contrecoup injuries are those that result from the brain striking with enough force against one side of the skull that it bounces and smashes into the other side, resulting in injury on opposite sides of the brain. Diffuse axonal injuries are common in whiplash injuries. Damage is caused by the brain’s neurons stretching as the result of a sudden change in velocity.
When someone sustains a head trauma that is the result of another’s negligent behavior, it is advisable to have psychological testing administered in addition to medical treatment as soon as possible in order to determine the full extend and impact of the injury. Consulting an attorney who is familiar with head injury cases can help victims seek the compensation that they will need in order to aid their recovery.