The Impact of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Despite its name, an mTBI or mild traumatic brain injury is not a mild injury. It is a classification used by doctors to describe either a brief loss of consciousness, or a marked change in mental status, such as a person being dazed or confused at the time of their injury. From a clinical perspective, an mBTI is only distinguished from a moderate traumatic brain injury in that there isn’t any internal bleeding, skull fracturing, or extended loss of consciousness – but like moderate traumatic brain injuries, an mBTI can have severe and lasting consequences.
At Karns & Kerrison, our Rhode Island brain injury lawyers understand how frightening it can be when you’ve sustained an mBTI. Because this injury is so hard for people to understand, you may feel alone, and believe you have no recourse against another party’s negligence. With the help of our skilled legal team, however, we can help you seek compensation if you’ve experienced a mild traumatic brain injury.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: The Invisible Injury
Even with a mild traumatic brain injury, some of the axons that connect the brain cells or neurons become severed, in a process called axonal shearing. This can lead to ongoing cognitive deficiency, also known as continuing post-concussive syndrome. Patients who have post-concussive syndrome may have trouble regulating their emotions, forming new memories, or remembering old ones, and they may no longer be able to multitask. If the injury is substantial enough, continuing post-concussive syndrome may turn permanent.
This is why mBTIs are called the “invisible injury,” as the victim looks and seems normal on the surface, even to doctors. To make matters worse, older types of imaging such as CT scans don’t clearly show this kind of injury. In spite of this invisibility, an mBTI can wreak havoc on your life, causing disabling impairments and limiting your full potential. Only with recent advances in science have doctors been able to fully visualize the scope of mBTIs, and with these scientific advances has come increased societal acceptance of this condition.
Major Scientific Advances for Brain Injuries
Imaging of the brain has now advanced beyond the normal CT scan or basic MRI. An fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) is an MRI technique for measuring brain activity that works by detecting changes in the oxygen flow in the blood of the brain. A person will be placed in the MRI with special software, and then asked to perform motions such as squeezing the left and then right hands, while the software notes brain activity.
In addition, advances in MRI software have taken the brain MRI from the T1-weighted MRI and T2-weighted MRI to the Diffusion Weighted MRI (DWI), Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) and fluid-Attenuated Inversion Recovery (FLAIR) MRI, all of which can show changes to brain tissue that were previously invisible. These machines can show minute traces of blood or hemosiderin at minute bleeding sites in the brain with a new level of accuracy. Some can also show diffuse axonal shearing, illuminating the difference in brain function by showing how the sheared axons are unable to connect brain cells (or neurons) properly. Scientists are also developing a blood test, which works by looking for proteins that indicate a brain injury has taken place.
It’s estimated that nearly 3 million people a year in the United States suffer from mild traumatic brain injury. As better technology becomes available, doctors will be able to identify and help more patients than ever before.
Greater Societal Acceptance of mBTIs
Mild traumatic brain injury has been brought to the forefront of medical conversation in recent years, as soldiers returning from war exhibit clear signs of brain injuries from explosions, even with no brain bleed, fractured skull, or loss of consciousness. This is also evident in some competitive athletes, who show symptoms of long-term damage after multiple concussions. Because of increased attention on these issues, more and more people are beginning to realize that an mBTI is serious, even if the conventional signs of brain injury – like a skull fracture or heavy internal bleeding – are not present.
Do you believe that another party’s negligence may have caused your mBTI? Contact us at (888) 281-3100 to schedule a free consultation with our compassionate personal injury team. We serve Rhode Island clients throughout Providence, Middletown, and beyond.