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Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms and Causes

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

If you were recently in a car accident, injured playing sports, or slipped and fell, you should know the signs, symptoms, and causes of a traumatic brain injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 2.87 million TBI-related deaths, injuries, and emergency room visits in 2014, 837,000 of which involved children.

Traumatic brain injuries can range from moderate to severe, causing a wide range of problems, from confusion to debilitating memory issues.

If your injury has impacted your ability to work, consult with a personal injury lawyer to start your disability benefits application, and determine if you can receive compensation from the person who caused your injury.

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

A TBI usually occurs when the brain bounces against the skull’s hard bone, resulting in bruising an area of the brain. Bullets or broken pieces of skull penetrating the brain can also result in a TBI.

TBIs can be mild, moderate, or severe. A doctor can use CT scans and physical examinations to determine if you have a TBI and its severity.

If you receive a blow to the head, you should seek medical attention even if you don’t lose consciousness.

Common Symptoms of a TBI

Any hit on the head, even a seemingly light one, can result in a TBI. After a head injury, keep an eye out for any of these symptoms. If you live alone, it’s best to stay with someone 24 hours after your injury to ensure you receive care if necessary.

The CDC, one of the top national institutes for medicines, organizes the common symptoms of TBIs into four categories: memory, physical, emotional, and sleep.


One of the more well-known symptoms of TBIs is memory problems. However, patients may also experience other cognitive issues. The mental symptoms of a TBI include:

  • Unable to remember new information or retain new memories
  • Cannot think clearly
  • Slower thinking and movements
  • Inability to concentrate


TBIs also result in physical symptoms. Moderate or severe TBIs cause more debilitating physical symptoms than mild TBIs.

If your or a loved one exhibits some or all these physical symptoms, you may have a TBI.

  • Headache, from dull to intense
  • Blurry or fuzzy vision
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Changes in your ability to smell
  • Stomach problems, including vomiting or nausea
  • Light sensitivity
  • Noise sensitivity
  • Problems balancing
  • Exhaustion or noticeable decrease in energy
  • Loss of Consciousness


One of the more subtle symptoms of TBIs is a change in the patient’s mood. These symptoms can be challenging to self-identify. If you’ve had a jolt to the head, and a friend or family member comments on your irritability, you may have a TBI.

These mood changes can all indicate a head injury:

  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Increased nervousness
  • Heightened emotions


The last category deals with changes in your sleep. TBIs affect people differently, and the CDC includes trouble falling asleep, sleeping more than usual, and difficulties sleeping in their TBI symptoms.

After a head injury, pay attention to your sleeping habits. If you notice a change, see a doctor.

Danger Signs

For a mild TBI, patients don’t require emergency medical attention. You’ll need to make an appointment with your healthcare provider, but it can wait a few days. However, moderate or severe TBI can result in more serious and sometimes life-threatening conditions.

If a loved one exhibits any of these symptoms following a head injury, bring them to the Emergency Room immediately.

  • Painful headache that continues indefinitely
  • Numbness, weakness, or less coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Multiple incidents of vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • One enlarged pupil
  • They don’t recognize you or where they are
  • Strange behavior

In addition to these signs, stay alert for continuous crying and lack of interest in eating or nursing in children.

If you are in doubt about the seriousness of a head injury, see a doctor. A medical record can also help you if you choose to pursue a legal case against the person who caused your injury.


Moderate and severe TBIs can cause several complications, some of which can result in long-term disabilities that significantly curtail your daily activities. Patients sometimes fall into comas or suffer from breath death. TBIs can also result in seizures, fluid in the brain, infections, blood clots, raised blood pressure, and vertigo.

If the injury is near the spinal cord, patients may have permanent paralysis or loss of smell, taste, or vision.

Behavioral and speech problems can also be long-lasting and sometimes permanent.

Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms

Common Causes

Many everyday activities can result in accidents. Falls, car accidents, and sports injuries are some of the most common causes of TBIs. While biking or playing sports, be sure to wear all recommended protective gear.

When you’re in a vehicle, always use your seatbelt.

Other causes include violence and explosive blasts. TBI is a common diagnosis for veterans who have served in an active military zone. Although research is ongoing, scientists hypothesize that the pressure wave from a blast can disrupt brain function.

Current Treatments

The treatment depends on the severity of the TBI. Health care providers suggest over the counter pain medication and rest for a mild TBI.

However, moderate and severe TBIs require more intensive treatment. Often, doctors will treat symptoms since the technology to repair the brain directly does not yet exist.

New Research

In recent years, scientists have developed HDFT, a new way of scanning the brain. This scan shows doctors a clearer image of damaged areas of the brain. Previously, patients suffering from mild or moderate TBIs have exhibited behavioral or physical changes that did not correlate with their CT or MRI scan.

However, with the HDFT, doctors can more precisely determine the cause of symptoms and may be able to treat them more effectively.

Can I File a TBI Lawsuit?

Sometimes, accidents happen due to another party’s negligence. If you fell due to low lighting to torn carpeting at a store, you might have cause to sue the store. Michigan allows injured parties to sue at-fault drivers for pain and suffering and damages. If someone else attacked you, you could sue them in civil court for damages.

Every case is different, and the bar for proving negligence in Michigan is high. However, TBIs can result in life-changing complications. Often, patients with TBIs have high medical bills and have lost wages.

If you believe that another party caused or partially caused your injury, ask the talented personal injury lawyers at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. about filing a claim. Senior partner and trial attorney, Elieen Kroll, is also a registered nurse, and along with our network of expert medical witnesses, our law firm can provide the legal representation you need to maximize your award.

Our legal team is also experienced in disability law and can help you file a claim and receive the maximum benefits you are entitled to for your injury.

Arrange a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has received a TBI diagnosis, contact Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., to determine if you can file a TBI lawsuit. The team will only get paid if you win your case, so call 866-MICH-LAW to arrange your free consultation today.

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.

Martha is a writer and musician who is passionate about politics and the law. She studied politics in her Bachelor's Degree and continues to be involved in legal matters, especially immigration. She now lives in Germany and is writing her first book and learning German.



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