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Brooks Schuelke
Brooks Schuelke
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Brain Injury Basics

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A nine-year oldboy suffered a brain injury after being struck by a car while walking in front of abus in New York. The driver, a teen who was allegedly drunk, hit the boy as he tried to drive around the parked bus.The childis currently being treated at a children’s hospital, but has becomeanother tragic example of avictim of a severe brain injury. Every year, there are over 1.4 million Americans who suffer from a brain injury. Furthermore, more than 5 million Americans are estimated to continue to live with the effects of a past brain injury. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) defines brain injury as “a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.” This type of neurological injury can affect the mind’s ability to control behavior and emotion, often leading to extreme feelings ranging from outbursts of anger to uncontrollable crying. While these erratic effects can damage the victim’s relationships with others, the most harmful effect to the victim himself is impairment to his intellect. Such injuries tend to influence the brain’s ability to store, process, accumulate, communicate, and retrieve information.

So what are the main causes of brain injuries? According to the CDC and the Brain Injury Association of America, nearly one-third of all brain injuries are attributed to falls. While this leading cause affects all ages, the summer may see a rise in head injuries in children. With school out now, many kids will be riding bikes, jumping stairs with skateboards, and rollerblading down sidewalks. Without proper head protection, many of these kids may end up in the local children’s hospital after taking a spill.

Head injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause, but may perhaps be the most recognizable. As a personal injury lawyer, I often deal with situations in which my client has suffered some type of head injury due to an auto collision. These type of injuries are not unusual to the legal world, as demonstrated by one recent case in which a man from Greenwood, South Carolina awarded him $2.6 million for the permanent brain injury he sustained as a result of striking a logging truck that blocked the road. The collision occurred in the early morning hours as the truck was parked sans any warning devices. Head injuries from whiplash and crash impacts tend to be commonplace as others, such as Steve Lombardi, have also blogged about their affects.

Behind falls and vehicle accidents, the CDC lists the next leading cause of brain injuries as occurring from events in which the victim was either struck by or against something. This category makes up nineteen percent of all head injuries, but does not include assaults. The CDC lists injuries caused by assaults as comprising of eleven percent. This grouping consists of cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome and bar fights, such as this one.

The types of head injury causes can also differ according to occupation. For example, the leading cause of injury among active military personnel is blasts. An NPR investigation found that troops tend to suffer from brain injuries at a disproportionate amount than the general population. The much needed medical treatment and rehabilitation of these troops contributes to the growing cost of the war in Iraq. In an effort to curb the damages, the military has begun equipping soldiers with advanced combat helmet sensors that help perceive brain injuries. Although the technology is new, it is already being testing on troops who routinely deal with blasts.

Aside from the main sources of injury, recent studies have shown that afflictions such as strokes or sleep apnea can also have devastating effects on the brain. For more about head injury causes and prevention, please visit InjuryBoard.com.

Next up: We’ll take a look at the different types of brain injuries and discuss ways to recognize symptoms…