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Bakersfield Brain Injury Lawyers

When You Need a Really Good Lawyer

The brain is a uniquely complex organ. Brain injuries and subsequent lawsuits are likewise uniquely complex and challenging.

The Bakersfield brain injury lawyers of Rodriguez & Associates bring unique strengths to these complicated cases:

  • A sophisticated knowledge of brain injuries, including types and symptoms of brain injuries
  • Access to the latest brain injury technology

Often, the resolution of local MRI equipment can’t detect subtle yet serious injuries such as brain bleeding. We work with providers at leading state and national brain injury facilities to ensure clients’ brain injuries are properly evaluated, diagnosed and treated. For more information, please contact our Bakersfield office.

Hematoma, Concussions and Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries – The Silent Epidemic

Mild traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and concussions have been called a silent epidemic by doctors. Why?

Often, mild TBIs exhibit no immediate or visible injuries. Yet, later, symptoms and injuries can appear, such as changed behaviors and personalities, and forgetfulness. These can lead to the inability to hold a job and to changes in relationships with a spouse and with children.

We can meet with you and your family and discuss your firsthand observations regarding a loved one’s changes following a brain injury. We can also order more detailed tests that may detect what previous tests missed.

Whether a brain injury just happened or you feel a local X-ray came back “clear” and you have questions, we can provide caring and qualified legal assistance. For more information, please contact our Bakersfield personal injury lawyers.

What Is a Concussion and What Are the Symptoms?

Concussions are a form of traumatic brain injury that result in a short loss of normal brain function. Though most people consider them the mildest possible form of traumatic brain injury, concussions are still serious injuries that can have severe effects.

Defining and Identifying Concussions

Our brains sit inside our skulls, protected from bouncing against the hard surfaces of our skulls by a thin layer of blood and fluids. When an external force strikes a person’s head hard enough, the brain may make sudden, violent contact with the inside of the skull, causing a concussion. Concussions are common injuries in contact sports, such as football, rugby, and ice hockey. They are especially common in “dueling” sports, such as boxing and mixed martial arts.

Associated Risks and Secondary Conditions

The biggest risks associated with concussions aren’t usually the concussions themselves, but rather the lingering effects they cause. Concussions affect the brain and body in several ways, some of which can be severe and cause long-term impairments without proper medical care.

Concussions can cause the following symptoms and conditions:

  • Increased vulnerability. When you suffer a blow to the head that results in a concussion, you become more susceptible to future concussions.
  • Seizures.
  • Insomnia and other sleep-related problems.
  • Impaired motor skills and loss of coordination.
  • Weakness.
  • Diminished cognitive abilities, such as confusion or trouble with normal daily tasks or impaired memory.
  • Slurred or impaired speech.
  • Headaches. Victims of multiple concussions may develop cluster headaches or chronic migraines.
  • Dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Emotional instability, such as sudden, unpredictable mood swings, depression, anxiety, and nervousness.
  • Sensitivity to bright lights.

This is not an exhaustive list. Every person’s concussion will be different in terms of severity, secondary conditions, and recovery. After suffering a concussion, the victim may need repeated tests, neurological exams, and follow-up treatment to address any of the above conditions resulting from the concussion.

Warning Signs of Concussion

If you notice any of the following warning signs of a concussion in someone after a head injury, seek immediate medical care:

  • Increasingly painful persistent headache.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Slurred speech or impaired vision.
  • Weakness or a loss of coordination.
  • Excessive drowsiness or inability to wake from sleeping.
  • Single-eye pupil dilation (when the pupil of the eye enlarges in only one eye).
  • Seizures or convulsions.
  • Difficulty remembering basic information, such as names, dates, or places.
  • Unusual mood swings, agitation, or restlessness.
  • Periods of unconsciousness. Even a short unconscious spell can have serious effects on the victim’s health, and they need to be carefully monitored by trained medical professionals while unconscious.
  • Loss of appetite or the inability to keep food down.

While awaiting medical care, stay near the person who has been injured, and don’t assume because he or she hasn’t passed out, he or she is out of danger. Most people don’t pass out after a concussion, but they still likely need medical care.

Post-Concussion Syndrome

One of the biggest concerns after a concussion is the potential to develop a condition known as post-concussion syndrome (PCS). PCS can appear within the first few days after suffering a concussion, and symptoms may persist for more than year following the injury.

You can identify PCS if the victim displays any of the above warning signs, but one of the major indicators is abrupt, uncharacteristic mood swings. Individuals suffering from PCS may quickly become irritable, argumentative, unduly suspicious, and even violent.

Concussions are typically mild and the symptoms abate relatively quickly. However, they do require medical attention, and medical professionals can identify any warning signs of long-term impairment. If you suspect a friend or loved one is suffering from a concussion, never hesitate to find emergency care as soon as possible.

What Are Secondary Brain Injuries?

The human brain is the body’s control center, and brain injuries are some of the gravest wounds a person can suffer. When analyzing brain injuries, the immediate effects are typically apparent and can indicate the patient’s future complications. Secondary brain injuries often have serious impacts on the individual’s health, too.

Although every brain injury is serious, successful treatment of traumatic brain injuries largely depends on how fast medical professionals can treat a victim. Medical professionals must take special care to prevent them from developing.

Defining Secondary Brain Injuries

A secondary brain injury usually develops within a few days of the initial injury. The primary goal when treating a primary brain injury is to prevent secondary injuries. Different types of brain injuries run the risk of causing different types of secondary injuries:

  • Skull fractures are injuries in which the skull is broken or damaged. If a piece of the skull presses on the brain, a depression can form. This can cause swelling, pressure changes, and other complications.
  • A localized injury describes a wound to a particular part of the brain. After the initial injury, a secondary injury, such as a contusion (bruising of brain tissue) or hemorrhage (bleeding of the brain), can develop.
  • Diffuse axonal injuries (DAIs) describe injuries to brain tissue that interfere with neural signals. Our neurons, or brain cells, are responsible for carrying out all the actions our brains execute. DAIs can result in torn or stretched neural pathways, impairing some faculties of the brain and body.
  • Infections. Penetrating brain injuries – when a foreign object enters the skull – exposes the brain tissue to the outside world and creates the potential for infections in the brain.
  • Oxygen deprivation. If an injury inhibits the flow of oxygen to the brain, the victim will likely suffer permanent brain damage from oxygen deprivation.

Complications from Secondary Injuries

A primary brain injury is a serious medical issue that requires immediate professional attention. However, secondary injuries can be difficult to detect, harder to treat, and may have more widespread and long-lasting effects. Prevention is vital when it comes to secondary brain injuries. Some secondary brain injuries include:

  • Too much intracranial pressure. Our skulls house our brains. The fluid within our skulls exists to keep our brains from bouncing around and hitting the hard surfaces of the interiors of our skulls. A head wound can cause swelling of the brain tissue, increasing the pressure inside the victim’s head. Too much pressure inside the skull can lead to blocked blood flow, further increasing damage to the brain.
  • Neurotransmission problems. Our bodies are a careful balance of different chemicals, and this is especially true of our brain functions. When external forces act on the brain, they can disrupt the balance of neurotransmissions and hormones. When chemical signals are disrupted in the brain, it can make it difficult or impossible to perform certain functions, interfering with cognition and behavior.
  • Changes to the brain’s natural “plasticity.” Plasticity describes the brain’s natural ability to change over time. As we age, our brains adapt and create new neural pathways. A traumatic brain injury may lead to a secondary injury to the patient’s neural plasticity, impairing his or her brain’s ability to adapt over time. Issues with brain plasticity can entail extensive rehabilitation and often carry long-term effects.

Secondary brain injuries can result in long-term disabilities and other conditions, such as seizures, hydrocephalus (swelling of the brain and head), deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the brain), spasms, complications with gastrointestinal processes, motor skill impairment, mood swings, insomnia, cognitive impairments, diminished learning capacity, chronic headaches, depression, and more.

Primary injuries can’t always be predicted or prevented, but prompt, thorough treatment of a primary traumatic brain injury can prevent a patient from experiencing life-altering secondary brain injuries.

Brain Injury Statistics and Common Causes

Brain injuries are more common than most people realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) contribute to 30% of all injury deaths. About 153 people in the U.S. die from TBI-related injuries every day. Those who do not die from TBIs can suffer permanent damage such as memory problems, loss of movement and sensation, cognitive difficulties, and emotional effects such as depression. Learning the common causes of brain injuries can help spread awareness of this very serious type of injury.

Falls

The CDC reports that falls are the number one cause of traumatic brain injuries. Falls accounted for a whopping 47% of TBI-related hospital visits and deaths in the United States in 2013. Children and the elderly are the two populations most at risk for fall-related TBIs. In the construction industry, falls are the most common cause of death. Falls can lead to blunt trauma to the head, causing the brain to strike the inside of the skull. This can lead to the brain swelling, bleeding, or the fluids in the skull sustaining damage. Fall-related TBIs can easily be fatal, or lead to permanent disabilities.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

In a motor vehicle crash, the brain can sustain a number of injuries. Debris can strike the head, causing a traumatic brain injury or open head injury in which something has punctured the skull and entered the brain. The brain may also sustain damage from extreme gravitational forces. When the brain moves at a different speed than the skull through acceleration or deceleration, it can strike the inside of the skull. This can result in direct brain injury, contusion, and brain swelling, as well as diffuse axonal shearing, when forces cause the brain to slam back and forth inside the skull.

Sports-Related Injuries

Brain injuries are common in contact sports such as football and rugby, as well as sports involving projectiles such as baseball and hockey. Sports-related TBIs often go undiagnosed or unreported, due to fear of having to sit out a game or quit the sport altogether. Unfortunately, this can lead to second-impact syndrome, i.e., a second concussion before the first has fully healed. Research on second-impact syndrome shows that it is rare but can be fatal.

There are concussion protocols in place to help athletes fully recover from head and brain injuries before returning to the field. If a coach fails to obey these protocols and a player suffers a worsened injury, the player may have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit due to negligence. As knowledge of sports-related TBIs expands, players may have to wear special helmets or sit games out until they achieve full recovery. The rules continue to change the more scientists and doctors learn about the nature of brain injuries on the field.

Active Duty Causes

In the military population, the number of traumatic brain injuries has increased since conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan began. An estimated 22% of combat casualties stem from brain injuries, according to the Veteran’s Brain Injury Center. The most common causes of traumatic brain injuries within the active duty military population are blasts, motor vehicle accidents, and gunshot wounds.

Blast-related TBIs can produce residual issues occurring up to two years after the injury. Many within this population suffer from polytrauma, or more than one type of trauma. This can lead to complications with TBIs that other patients do not experience, as well as an increased mortality rate. Patients with multiple injuries require special treatment in polytrauma centers for TBIs, a common solution for injured active duty military members. The more you know about brain injuries, the better your chances of preventing a TBI.

Contact California Brain Injury Attorneys

Rodriguez & Associates is conveniently located in downtown Bakersfield, in the oldest free-standing brick building in the county. We are available for weekend and evening appointments, charge no fee for consultations and speak both English and Spanish. To contact us, please call 661-323-1400 or 800-585-9262 Toll Free to schedule a free consultation with one of our Bakersfield brain injury attorneys today.