Nearly 1.7 million Americans sustain Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) each year. A TBI typically occurs when a powerful blow or jolt to the head disrupts normal brain function. The severity of these injuries ranges from mild, which are commonly called concussions, to severe, which can have significant, long-term, mental and physical implications.
Auto accidents and falls cause over half of all traumatic brain injuries. That's why our law firm often sees firsthand the lasting effects that TBIs can have on our clients.
In 2011, our friend and fellow Edgar Snyder & Associates employee, Chris, sustained a traumatic brain injury. He recently sat down to discuss his experience and how aspects of his everyday life have changed since the incident.
As is common with brain injuries, Chris has some difficulty recalling the precise moment that he was hurt. It was Christmas Eve. Chris was waiting for the subway after enjoying a night out with friends when someone hit him over the head and robbed him. When he woke up, he was in the hospital. There, he learned that he had been the victim of a violent crime, and that his concussion, skull, and facial injuries were caused by blunt force trauma.
He was released from the hospital the next morning with very specific medical advice: take time off of work, sleep as much as possible, and avoid using the computer—which is his livelihood. His doctor also recommended that he take a break from watching television, reading, loud noises, and physical exertion.
Traumatic brain injuries not only impact your thought processes, but they can also cause a host of behavioral changes as well as physical problems. In the beginning stages of his recovery, Chris' vision suffered, and he experienced tunnel vision, seeing-double, and trouble focusing on individual objects. He had issues with his short-term memory and frequently lost his train of thought mid-conversation.
Chris has a very technical and demanding job as the law firm's webmaster, involving meticulous attention to detail, the ability to multi-task, and precise focus. During his recovery, he recalls having to take many half days off of work to give his brain a rest as it healed. Loud noises and big crowds were also very hard for Chris to deal with at first, and this caused his social life to suffer.
In addition to undergoing medical and dental procedures for his facial injuries, Chris also needed a mixture of physical and cognitive rehabilitation to regain complex physical abilities. He took balance therapy, which combines precise, balance exercises with minor, mental tasks. Chris went to UPMC Sports Center for his exertion therapy, which works on improving more physically-demanding skills, like running.
Chris' therapy also included taking the IMPACT or "Concussion Test" multiple times to assess his cognitive abilities. He remembers how happy he was to substantially improve his score at the culmination of his therapy, but although his score indicated that his road to recovery was coming to an end, even today he still notices aspects of his life that have yet to fully return to normal.
Four years after the incident, there are still certain things that cause him trouble. He says remembering names, recalling numbers, and spelling words out loud is difficult, and while he can read and walk just as well as he did before the injury, it's now tough to read and walk at the same time. He lists his biggest ongoing problem as balance, and maintains that complex balancing tasks, especially in poor light, are challenging.
It's important to remember that every traumatic brain injury is different: the more severe the injury, the more extensive the recovery process. After medical treatment, physical, and cognitive therapy, Chris was able to return to work full time again and regain an overall sense of normalcy in his life. He was very lucky to have had access to resources that helped him get through the healing process. Sadly, not all individuals with injuries of this nature have similar outcomes.
Traumatic brain injuries aren't always apparent to the outside world, and those who may appear "perfectly healthy" could be struggling to recover from this very serious medical issue. If you or someone close to you is experiencing a TBI, make sure that you're receiving the support you need to help get your life back.
We've compiled an abundance of resources to help answer any questions you may have.
If an accident, such as a car accident or fall, caused you or a loved one to experience a traumatic brain injury, protect your legal rights by getting a free legal consultation from Edgar Snyder & Associates. Fill out the form at the top right of this webpage, or give our office a call to discuss your situation with a legal representative. We have extensive experience advocating for those with injuries like these.