What Are the Long-term Effects of a Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are serious health issues that often result in long-lasting or even lifelong consequences. Although 75% of the TBIs that happen every year are considered mild, repeated injuries can have long-term or catastrophic results.

Whether they happen as the result of an auto accident, a workplace injury, medical malpractice, or another situation, they can cause a wide range of physical, cognitive, and sensory symptoms. Discover some of the most common traumatic brain injury long-term effects and learn how to get a resolution or recover compensation for your injury.

Physical Effects

According to the Mayo Clinic, TBI survivors can experience a number of physical complications. These physical effects can last for weeks or months after the injury occurs:

  • Headaches. It’s normal to have frequent headaches after a TBI. Although they might end after a few weeks, they often last for months.
  • Dizziness. You may have vertigo, or feel dizzy or disoriented after a TBI.
  • Seizures. You might experience seizures, or sudden brain disturbances, which can be isolated or recurring.
  • Infection. If your TBI involved a skull fracture or head wound, the delicate tissue protecting your brain might have torn, potentially leading to an infection. This side effect can have serious consequences if left untreated since infection in your brain can spread throughout your nervous system.
  • Swelling in the brain. In some cases, a TBI can cause fluid to collect and build up in the brain. Over time, this effect often leads to painful pressure and swelling known as hydrocephalus.

Cognitive Symptoms

Physical issues are far from the only long-term side effects that TBIs cause. You might also experience cognitive symptoms that last for months or years, including:

  • Short- or long-term memory loss
  • Learning difficulties or the need for more time to learn new concepts and skills
  • Problems with reasoning and judgment
  • Issues with concentrating
  • Reduced problem-solving and decision-making abilities
  • Loss of organization and planning skills
  • Limited multitasking capabilities

Behavioral Deviations

A traumatic brain injury can cause your behavior to change in major or minor ways. Over time, you could experience:

  • Inability to control yourself
  • Reduced awareness of yourself and your abilities
  • Problems with verbal outbursts or physical movements
  • Increased chance of taking unnecessary risks
  • Trouble getting to sleep or sleeping through the night

Communication Issues

Talking, writing and sharing thoughts can become challenging after a traumatic brain injury. You may develop problems with communication, such as:

  • Reduced ability to understand spoken or written words
  • Difficulties with speaking or writing
  • Problems processing or joining conversations
  • Inability to understand nonverbal cues
  • Trouble participating in social situations, including beginning or ending conversations

Emotional Concerns

A traumatic brain injury can also change the way you handle emotions. You might experience:

  • Unexpected or sudden mood swings
  • Anger and irritability
  • Depression and anxiety

Sensory Complications

TBIs often cause cranial nerve damage, especially if they happen near the base of your skull. If you incur cranial nerve damage, you may experience sensory complications like:

  • Reduced, changed, or lost sense of taste or smell
  • Vision loss or double vision
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ringing in one or both ears or decreased hearing

Altered States of Consciousness

In moderate or severe cases, TBIs can cause long-term or lifelong changes to your state of consciousness. A TBI can cause a coma, which means the person is unconscious for days or weeks. In this state, the person is unresponsive to sensory stimuli and unaware of surroundings. A lengthy coma can lead to increased brain damage, which may cause the person to enter a vegetative state. In this state, the person may respond to stimuli but remains unaware of their surroundings.

A TBI survivor may enter a minimally conscious state after experiencing a vegetative state or a coma. In this state, the person still has serious limitations but has regained some awareness and responsiveness. If the brain ceases activity, a TBI survivor can experience brain death. This state of consciousness isn’t treatable and ultimately leads to fatality.

Concussion Symptoms

Another type of head injury is the diagnosis of a concussion.  Concussions can be tricky to diagnose. Though you may have a visible cut or bruise on your head, you can’t see a concussion. Signs may not appear for days or weeks after the injury. Some symptoms last for just seconds; others may linger.

Concussions are fairly common. Some estimates say a mild brain trauma is sustained every 21 seconds in the U.S. But it’s important to recognize the signs of a concussion so you can take the proper steps to treat the injury.

Some things increase your risk for a concussion, including:

  • Falls, particularly in children and older adults
  • Playing a contact sport
  • Lack of proper safety gear or supervision for contact sports 
  • Car, motorcycle, bicycle, and other accidents that cause a blow to the head
  • Being hit, struck with an object, or other physical abuse
  • Military service
  • An earlier concussion

How to File a Personal Injury Claim

If you or a loved one has experienced a TBI, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Instead, it’s in your best interest to partner with a traumatic brain injury attorney who can guide you through filing a personal injury claim.

At Janet, Janet & Suggs, our knowledgeable team of attorneys has a 40-year track record of pursuing difficult cases, including countless personal injury claims. We’re committed to helping you get the results and recover the compensation you deserve. In fact, our past results include a $9 million settlement for a sonogram misinterpretation that resulted in the birth of a child with long-term brain damage and an $8.25 million recovery for failure to address an airway obstruction that resulted in brain damage.If you suspect that you or your loved one’s condition was caused by another person’s negligence, contact our team of experienced and compassionate traumatic brain injury attorneys today. Schedule a free legal consultation and get a no-obligation evaluation of your personal injury case.

 William R. “Topper” Cramer

Reviewed by:
William R. “Topper” Cramer, RN, MBA, MS, CCRN, CFRN, EMT-P
Legal Nurse Consultant | Nurse Paralegal

Topper has been involved in emergency, transport, and critical care medicine since 1978 when he became an EMT in high school. A United States Air Force veteran, he remains active as a pre-hospital RN/paramedic, certified flight nurse, and critical care nurse. In addition to his professional role as a nurse consultant/nurse paralegal, he is the Chief of Operations at Walkersville Volunteer Rescue in Frederick County, Maryland. READ FULL BIO

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