Head and Brain Injuries
In the United States alone, over 1,000,000 people suffer from head injuries each year. Head impact injuries, especially “traumatic brain injuries,” can leave the victim in varying states of debilitation. While blunt trauma to the skull is the most likely source of traumatic brain injury, prolonged lack of oxygen, or the “anoxic brain injury” can also have severe and life threatening consequences. With traumatic brain injury, the victim’s brain may swell, bruise, and tear, while anoxic brain injury causes the brain cells to die from lack of oxygen. Traumatic brain injury is more common than anoxic brain injury, however both injuries have similar consequences and treatments.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Tearing – The sudden impact of the body colliding with another object (such as a car or baseball bat) may cause very delicate tissue in the brain to tear apart. Unfortunately, modern medical devices (x-ray, CT scan, MRI) often do not detect torn brain tissue. As a result, the injured patient may be given a clean bill of health when in fact there has been significant brain damage.
- Bruising – Bruising, like tearing, is caused by impact to the skull. The impact forces the soft tissue of the brain into the much harder skull. The collision between the tissue and the skull may rupture small blood vessels allowing blood to escape into areas of the brain unsuitable for such blood. The unconfined blood places additional pressure on the brain tissue. This pressure may cause parts of the brain to stop functioning. As the brain is responsible for operating the most basic bodily functions (such as breathing), it can be quite perilous for any part of the brain to shut down.
- Swelling – While swelling in most other body parts is not typically considered life threatening, swelling of the brain can be. When swelling occurs in other parts of the body, the tissue surrounding the injured area expands to relieve the pressure. The brain however is surrounded by the hard bone of the skull and therefore cannot expand to accommodate the swelling occurring inside. When the brain swells, the pressure inside the skull increases along with the likelihood of severe consequences as a result thereof.
Anoxic Brain Injuries
Anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain is deprived of its oxygen intake for some significant amount of time. Such deprivation may occur as a result of drowning, choking, strangulation, or other respiratory difficulties. The cells within the brain require oxygen (and therefore blood) to function. Lack of oxygen for a significant period causes the brain cells to die.
Back and Spine Injuries
Your spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs from the base of the brain through the spinal column and down the back. The spinal column or “backbone” is made up of several vertebrae that protect the fragile spinal cord. Different parts of the spinal cord control different bodily functions. For instance, the nerves running along the part of the cord closest to the front of your body control muscles and your ability to move, while the nerves toward your back control your sense of touch and allow you to perceive temperature.
If your vertebrae are compromised (broken or fractured) and fail to adequately protect the spinal cord you may suffer from a spinal cord injury. For instance, in an automobile accident your spinal cord may be compressed or even severed, resulting in varying degrees of incapacitation.
The location of the injury along the spinal cord usually dictates the severity of your disability. The spinal column consists of four sections, the Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, and Sacral, which run from top to bottom respectively. Generally, the higher the spinal injuries are located along the spinal cord, the more severe the consequences. For example, damage to the spinal cord in either the Cervical or Thoracic regions usually results in some form of paralysis, while damage to the spinal cord in the lower portions of the Lumbar or Sacral regions may cause numbness and / or loss of bowel / bladder control.
Science is making rapid advances in spinal cord injury research. While there is currently no cure for many of the effects of spinal cord injury, researchers are developing techniques that they hope will allow damaged spinal cord nerves to regenerate and heal and reduce the incidence of death in patients with spinal cord injuries. Currently, the main goal in treating spinal cord injuries is to prevent further damage.
Please contact us if you are looking for a Texas personal injury lawyer to help you with your injuries.