Brain Injury

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Brain Injury

Head injuries that may cause brain injuries are not rare occurrences. According to a recent estimate by the NHS, 700,000 people visit hospital Accident and Emergency departments in the UK each year and 135,000 of those are admitted to hospital because they require checks or treatment.

Injuries to the brain can have life-altering effects on a person’s physical and mental health because of the importance of the brain as the control centre for the body.

A person previously very able may lose the ability to complete the simplest of tasks around their home, continue in employment or, in circumstances of severe injury, may not be able to lead an independent life.

These potentially devastating changes in an injured person’s overall health means it can be a difficult time for them and their family, financially and emotionally.

Brain-injury

‘Acquired brain injuries’ describe brain injuries that were not sustained before or during a person’s birth; they were sustained after birth.

‘Traumatic brain injuries’ refers to head injuries that are caused by trauma that causes the brain to suffer injury.

How severe a brain injury is establishes what category of brain injury it falls into. Severity is determined by the effects of the brain injury on the injured person, which is dependant upon the extent to which the brain is damaged and the particular area of the brain that is damaged.

Brain injuries are classed as either minor, moderate or severe.

Minor Brain Injuries

This least severe category of brain injury includes relatively common injuries, such as concussion and fainting, which always have short term effects that can sometimes lead to longer term complications.

Symptoms of minor brain injuries may include:

  • Mild confusion
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Poor memory
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty concentrating

Moderate Brain Injuries

This category of brain injury causes a loss of consciousness lasting more than 15 minutes but not exceeding 6 hours and a period of amnesia that persists for less than 24 hours.

Moderate brain injuries will cause similar symptoms to minor brain injuries, but they are likely to be more debilitating, persistent and severe.

The lengthy and persistent nature of moderate brain injury symptoms can have life-altering effects, even if those effects do not often last longer than 12 months. A person may not be able to perform tasks that were previously easy for them and may suffer from personality changes, which mean they are not the person that they were before the injury. This can be confusing, frustrating and often rather distressing for an injured person and their family.

Severe Brain Injuries

This category of brain injury causes a loss of consciousness lasting more than 6 hours and a period of amnesia that exceeds 24 hours.

Severe brain injuries have permanent, life-changing effects that are likely to hospitalise a person for a lengthy period of time. They will be unable to lead an independent life once they are discharged from hospital due to the effects of their injury, which usually cause a range of physical and mental disabilities.

Effects Of Brain Injuries

The brain controls the most important functions within the body and mind, allowing us to communicate, think and breathe.

If a person suffers a brain injury, their body’s ability to perform simple functions may be compromised, which may cause a person to have severely restricted motor functionality or go through changes in personality.

These things show how vital the compensation from a successful claim can be so that an injured person can get specialist treatment, care and rehabilitation to improve their situation.

The experience of serious brain injury claims among our expert solicitors means that they are ideal legal representation to make a compensation claim on your behalf. The help they can provide through obtaining compensation for you will help to relieve the burden on your shoulders so you can plan ahead for the future and concentrate on your recovery. Without this help, a brain injury can be devastating on every aspect of a person’s life and the life of their family.

The extent and severity of the effects of a serious brain injury is dependant on the area of the brain that is injured. The effects of brain injuries can be categorised as cognitive, behavioural and physical.

Cognitive Effects Of Brain Injuries

This refers to the possible effect of brain injuries on a person’s cognition, known more commonly as the ability to think.

Cognitive effects can be severely upsetting for a person to suffer, as they may not be able to understand and process aspects of their life that they had considered simple and second-nature before their accident. It can also be a tough time for the injured person’s family to go through, seeing a previously capable loved one with diminished mental faculties that compromise independence.

The cognitive effects of brain injuries may cause:

  • Problems with attention and concentration
  • Memory deterioration
  • Problems communicating
  • Problems processing information
  • Problems in the interpretation of information from the senses

Behavioural Effects Of Brain Injuries

If a brain injury affects one of the areas of the brain that contribute to emotional responses, it may be that an injured person’s behavioural tendencies will be altered.

Sometimes, a brain injured person suffers from a lack of inhibition and self-control which can result in them having episodes of extreme anger and saying hurtful things to those they love.

Contrastingly, brain injuries can even cause the opposite, with a person seeming emotionless due to restricted responses to stimuli.

The behavioural effects of a brain injury may lead to:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • A lack of spontaneity and future planning
  • A disrupted sleeping pattern and the resultant fatigue
  • Self-centred and stubborn behaviour
  • Frustration, impatience and agitation

Physical Effects Of Brain Injuries

Most people that suffer minor or moderate brain injuries make a full physical recovery, but many of those and all severe brain injury sufferers usually sustain irreversible damage to areas of the brain that control motor function and movement.

This type of damage can mean that a brain injured person will never regain the simplest of movement related abilities which are taken for granted by the majority of people, such as the ability to eat, shake hands and speak, and an injured person may even be in constant pain as a result.

The physical effects of brain injuries may affect:

  • Fatigue levels
  • Speech
  • Movement
  • Coordination
  • Hormone levels

Treatment And Rehabilitation

The brain has a quality known as plasticity, which means that when areas of the brain are damaged and a person loses the ability to perform particular functions as a result, areas of the brain that are still operating effectively can adapt to perform functions that were lost.

While full functionality may not be recovered due to the brain’s plasticity, partial function may return, improving a person’s life considerably in comparison to if they had permanently lost the functions performed by the damaged areas.

Facilitating the brain’s plasticity for function regain is not a simple process or one without a tough struggle for the injured person, who must relearn many basic skills in order to stimulate the brain into adapting.

This difficult progression can be very frustrating, draining and mentally challenging for those suffering with brain injuries, a point demonstrated by the fact that the most improvement and return of function occurs in the first 12 or 18 months of the recovery process, beyond which the rate of improvement can be suddenly slow. This may feel to the injured person that they are not going to make any further improvements, which can be demoralising and have a negative effect on a person’s future recovery because much of the battle is down to determination.

While it is imperative that a person in rehabilitation and therapy does not have idealistic expectations, it is essential that they continue to believe that their condition can keep on an upward curve because many people do in fact see noteworthy progress in their condition a considerable time after the first 18 month period. The first phase of rehabilitation is the most decisive time for progression, but it is certainly not the only time for progression.

Stages Of Treatment And Rehabilitation

In The Hospital

A serious brain injury usually requires care at a hospital in the first instance due to the fact that a patient will usually be in a critical condition in an intensive care unit, requiring treatment for a long period of time.

Despite the fact that a patient is in intensive care and is still receiving medical treatment, the process of rehabilitation may begin with assessments of the consequences of the injuries sustained in order that the rehabilitation and therapy needs of the patient may be ascertained.

As An In-patient

Often, a brain injured patient discharged from the hospital will go to an in-patient facility to undertake a variety of types of intense rehabilitation in the form of private and group sessions every day. This helps them regain a degree of independence to allow them to return home.

As An Out-patient

An injured person is unlikely to able to live independently after the in-patient stage, despite the great strides that can be made to their functional independence. Out-patient treatment provides further rehabilitation either at a centre or at the patient’s home, depending on their particular programme and needs.

At Home

This stage need an individual and their family to remain dedicated to the exercises they are asked to carry out so that they may achieve set targets. It is the most self-sufficient stage of rehabilitation, which is why support from family and friends is of fundamental importance in order that the patient remains positive and motivated so that their progression may continue.

Types Of Therapy

Psychotherapy

One type of psychotherapy, called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is extremely effective. It generally targets those with or at risk of depression as a result of their injuries. It aims to discover how an individual’s thought processes affect their actions and the way their actions affect their thought processes. By targeting thought processes and actions that reinforce them, negativity in their thinking can be reduced while positive thoughts are encouraged. This can help to reduce stress levels and allow a person to look ahead to the future by wielding a positive outlook.

Rational Emotive Therapy has become more used of late. This is a type of psychotherapy that tackles the irrational demands people place upon their life by having too much expectation about many aspects of it in order to negate the stress and anxiety that results from being disappointed by these unrealistic expectations.

Occupational Therapy

Tasks previously considered simple, such as eating, are likely to be difficult to many of those suffering from serious brain injuries. Occupational therapy aims to maximise a person’s independence by helping a person to relearn lost abilities and by teaching them how to adapt to their new level of capability in order to perform the tasks that they need to on a daily basis.

Neurological Physical Therapy

This type of therapy aims to improve the functional and physical aspect of impairments that have resulted from serious brain injuries, such as movement, by putting an injured person through physical exercises in order to improve muscle strength, physical stamina and to stimulate nerve regeneration.

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Mr K Southward
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