Traumatic Brain Injuries
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Traumatic Brain Injuries: Know What to Look For

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

We all know to be protective of our bodies, especially our heads. However, accidental hits, impacts, jolts, or penetrating objects to the head often lead to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). These injuries range in severity, and sometimes symptoms take hours or days to appear, resulting in delayed diagnosis.

Whether you’ve been in a vehicle crash, slip and fall, workplace mishap, or other accident, even with no visible signs of a head injury, make sure you and your family know what to look for to identify a TBI before it’s too late.

Working with a personal injury attorney specializing in traumatic brain injuries, like seasoned nurse attorney Eileen Kroll with Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., can provide additional guidance on what to look for and help ensure you receive treatment and compensation you need and deserve.

Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

TBIs happen alarmingly frequently. Some common causes of traumatic brain injury include:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Crashes involving automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, and bicycles commonly lead to traumatic brain injuries of various types and severity. According to National Safety Council statistics, approximately 4.4 million people are seriously injured per year in motor vehicle accidents.


Accidental falls are the most common cause of a traumatic brain injury. Falls can happen anywhere, whether you fall off a ladder at work or slip and fall on a wet floor while shopping. Older adults and small children often suffer TBIs because of a fall. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional falls are the second-leading cause of all TBI-related fatalities.

Sports Injuries

Contact team sports such as soccer, and individual sports such as skateboarding, often lead to TBIs in players.

Violence-Related Injuries

Acts of violence, from gunshots to domestic abuse, can lead to various forms of TBIs.

Common Signs and Symptoms of TBI to Look For

TBI symptoms differ depending on three critical factors: the injury type, the injury location, and its severity. While these injuries can be confined to the brain’s injured area, they can also spread to the surrounding tissues, causing a delay of days, weeks, or months in the onset of specific symptoms.

Whether you suffer a mild, moderate, or severe TBI, there are several physical and psychological symptoms to look out for. If you experience any of the following symptoms or notice these signs in someone else who has recently been involved in some type of accident, seek medical attention immediately. If possible, stay with them until they can see a doctor.

Mild TBI

Symptoms or signs of experiencing mild forms of traumatic brain injury, like a concussion, can be just physical or can be a combination of physical and psychological.

Physical symptoms of a mild TBI may be subtle, and that is why it’s important to know what to look for. If you feel dazed, disoriented, or confused, don’t dismiss it as a temporary thing. It’s always better to have it checked out by a medical professional. If you lose consciousness for even a few seconds, this is also a physical sign of potential TBI.

See a doctor if you observe any headaches, ringing in the ears, blurry vision, and other sensory issues regarding taste and smell. A new sensitivity to light or sound may also occur and is a sign you may have a mild brain injury.

Increased drowsiness, fatigue, or even insomnia may seem minor at first but could lead to more severe issues. Feeling dizzy or losing your balance more often can also indicate a mild TBI.

Finally, increased digestive issues such as vomiting or feeling nauseous are also indicators of a mild TBI.

Besides the physical signs and symptoms, psychological effects of a brain injury are common. After a mild TBI, you may experience feelings of anxiety, depression, or sudden mood swings.

While we all forget things occasionally, memory lapses after an accident may result from the injury, as can difficulty focusing on tasks.

Moderate to Severe TBI

If you have a more moderate-to-severe TBI, you may experience the symptoms associated with mild TBIs in addition to other signs. Many of these will be noticeable right away, and others may be delayed.

If you suffer from a persistent headache or one that continues to worsen, avoid taking over-the-counter medicines and instead call your doctor. Also, look in the mirror or ask a loved one to look at your eyes. If one or both appear dilated, call your doctor immediately.

Identifiable symptoms of clear liquid draining from nose or ears or numbness in fingers or toes are quickly noticeable, so stay on alert for these as well. Excessive and repeated nausea or vomiting can also indicate a moderate-to-severe TBI.

More physical symptoms of a moderate-to-severe TBI include loss of coordination or balance, difficulty waking up fully, seizures or convulsions, and losing consciousness for minutes or hours.

A loved one may recognize psychological symptoms more readily. These include slurred speech, increased confusion, and combativeness. If you feel agitated more than usual, take it as a sign to seek a medical evaluation.

With moderate-to-severe TBIs, there’s always the risk of falling into a coma or other altered consciousness.

Children and infants often experience signs and symptoms of a TBI slightly different from adults. These can include:

  • Prolonged crying without you being able to console them
  • Sudden losses in interest of activities and favorite toys and games
  • Noticeable changes in sleeping, eating, or nursing habits
  • Changes in how they pay attention
  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Easily or unusually cranky or irritable
  • Overcome with sadness or depression
  • Onset of seizures

The effect an injury has on brain function may be mild, moderate, or severe. Regardless of which, prompt medical evaluation and treatment are imperative. To identify TBIs, your medical team may order imaging tests such as CT scans and MRIs.

Your medical team will conduct a complete neurological examination for those exhibiting ic brain injury symptoms, including using the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) for a full-scale assessment.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reports that at the moment, doctors cannot significantly reverse trauma-related damage to the brain. As a result, medical providers do their best to stabilize patients and prevent any additional harm.

traumatic brain injuries

Common Types of Traumatic Brain Injury

There are several common types of TBI, which can range from mild to moderate. Regardless of what type of TBI you sustain, seek medical attention quickly.


Often considered a mild form of traumatic brain injury, concussions can lead to severe and occasionally longer-lasting effects. Concussions result when the brain experiences sudden movement, such as being ricocheted off the skull’s interior during a car crash.

Patients suffering from a concussion may experience increased pressure inside the head, dizziness or loss of balance, continuing nausea, unusual fatigue, or increasing confusion.


A contusion is best explained as a bruise on the brain, often occurring when a blow to the head occurs. A localized injury can remain mild or develop into something more serious, including swelling on the brain or herniation. Signs and symptoms vary for contusions, with the more common ones being loss of balance, a tingling or a numb feeling in the contused area, or slurring of speech.


A coup-contrecoup injury occurs when your head impacts an object and causes injury to two different sides of the brain. These two sides are the site of impact, or coup, and its opposite side, or contrecoup. These injuries often occur in violent vehicle accidents, and symptoms are usually severe.

If you hit your head in a car accident, diligently watch for swelling and bleeding on the brain, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Immediately see a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

Diffuse Axonal Injury

The shaking, jarring, or rapid rotation of your brain inside the skull can lead to a diffuse axonal injury. No impact is required, and this severe injury can be life-threatening. Tearing of the brain’s structures, such as the fibers within the brain stem, occurs, and symptoms can range from dizziness, headaches, and vomiting to falling into a coma.

Penetrating Brain Injury

Open head injuries, also known as penetrating brain injuries, can lead to a life-threatening TBI. Severe complications often develop when this type of injury occurs, including vomiting, breathing difficulties, heavy bleeding, and coma.

Why Hire a Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney

Hiring an attorney specialized in traumatic brain injury is beneficial to your case. With extensive medical knowledge surrounding these types of injuries, they can identify symptoms, understand the injuries themselves and their long-term effects, and use the correct medical terminology in any claims or lawsuits.

Traumatic brain injury attorneys also have expertise in identifying fair compensation for your injuries, as well as any pain and suffering. They factor in medical expenses, both past and present, and any wage loss.

In addition to negotiating and settling insurance claims for you, a TBI attorney can help determine if filing a lawsuit is the next step. This is important if negligence on the part of another party caused the accident and your injury. If a death has occurred, a wrongful death lawsuit may also need to be filed.

It’s essential you hire a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident. This way, your specialized legal team will know what to look for and the kinds of questions to ask about your injuries.

Contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. Law Firm Today

Our traumatic brain injury attorneys can be helpful in not only representing you in insurance company claims and filing potential lawsuits but are also familiar with TBI signs and symptoms.

Senior partner Eileen Kroll is an accomplished trial lawyer in our law firm and has an extensive medical background as an RN. She knows what to look for when someone is experiencing a traumatic brain injury and will seek the maximum compensation deserved. Contact our law office at 1-866-MICH LAW to schedule your free consultation. Our law firm never charges a fee unless we win your case.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Emily is a writer and legal professional with experience as a law firm paralegal and non-profit legal administrator. Prior to her legal career, Emily earned her Bachelor's Degree in International Affairs and worked with a government consulting group out of Washington, D.C. Today she splits her time between the Florida coast and the North Carolina mountains.



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