Brain damage can occur in a variety of ways but is considered to be any type of injury to the structure of the brain that disrupts or prevents normal brain function or healthy brain development. Brain damage can occur after birth (acquired, non-traumatic or traumatic brain injuries) or before birth (congenital brain injuries).
Most brain damage that occurs after birth is due to an injury of some sort. Unfortunately, many of these injuries are due to accidents that were caused by negligence on the part of someone else. Car accidents account for the majority of traumatic brain injuries. In these cases, the driver of the car that caused the accident may be held accountable for the injury.
Similarly, brain damage injuries that occur before or during birth may also be the result of someone else’s negligence. In these cases, the doctor or other member of the medical staff could have made a mistake and caused the injury or made the injury worse. In these cases, you may be able to seek legal counsel to help you determine what your legal rights are, and to help you recoup some of your monetary loss.
To help you gain more insight into brain damage, it is first important to understand the different types of injuries and how they can occur.
Congenital Brain Damage
Let’s begin by taking a look at congenital brain injuries. These types of injuries can be caused by a trauma, genetic defect, infection, poisoning, anoxia, or hypoxia. The result can be quite devastating and can appear in the form of conditions such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, epilepsy, or dyslexia.
Cerebral palsy has been linked to several causes, including trauma during birth, premature birth, infection, poor oxygen or blood supply to a developing fetus, and infant diseases such as encephalitis or meningitis. This condition is often a result of a birth injury and can manifest itself in a variety of neurological disorders that can prove quite debilitating.
Down syndrome is a type of birth disorder that is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome in each cell. The condition can lead to mental retardation, gastrointestinal issues, and heart conditions. Down syndrome occurs more so among the children born to women over the age of 40.
Fetal alcohol syndrome
Fetal alcohol syndrome is an incurable brain disorder that is a result of the mother consuming alcohol while pregnant. This can lead to mental retardation, growth issues, and low birth weight. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome often have problems with their central nervous system as well as behavioral issues.
Epilepsy is another incurable brain disorder that can develop before birth. Epilepsy causes the brain to produce intermittent bursts of electrical energy that can be quite intense and adversely affect overall brain function. The condition can manifest itself by producing convulsions and loss of consciousness. Epilepsy has been linked to brain development problems, as well as birth injuries. It can also develop later in life.
Dyslexia is a common type of learning disability that causes the brain to misinterpret what the eyes see and then translate into written or spoken language. Letter and words often appear incorrect, backwards, or cannot be recognized properly. It is not known exactly what causes dyslexia to occur.
Finally, congenital hydrocephalus is a type of brain damage that presents itself with an excessive amount of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain during the birth process. This condition is caused by prenatal bleeding, infections, or other genetic disorders. It is often associated with other types of birth defects.
Acquired Brain Damage
Acquired brain damage occurs after birth and can be classified as either non-traumatic or traumatic. These types of injuries often are the result of accidents, violent acts, sports injuries, or from other conditions such as neurodegenerative diseases or internal conditions.
Traumatic brain injuries
Traumatic brain injuries can be either closed head injuries or open head injuries. Closed head injuries do not involve objects penetrating the skull. Open head injuries involve objects penetrating the skull and directly impacting the brain.
Symptoms of both closed and open head injuries can range a great deal from the very subtle to very severe. There can be many different cognitive and behavioral changes, as well as various types of physical ailments.
A traumatic brain injury can show up in the form of a concussion, blood pooling (hematoma), bleeding (hemorrhage), bruising, or skull fractures. Infections, epilepsy, intracranial pressure, hydrocephalus, ischemia, and vasospasm are common secondary injuries that can result from traumatic brain injuries.
It is often quite difficult to diagnose traumatic brain injuries because the symptoms can range a great deal and may be accompanied by other conditions. Imaging tests, monitoring of the length of time of unconsciousness, and the Glasgow Coma Scale are common tools used to diagnose these conditions.
The end result of a traumatic brain injury can also be quite varied and may require nothing more than bed rest or all the way up to complicated neurosurgical procedures and lifelong rehabilitation treatments. Patients who have suffered only mild injuries may be able to fully recover, while individuals with moderate to severe injuries may never recover. Permanent disabilities could include loss of brain function, coma, persistent vegetative state, and even death.
Non-traumatic brain injuries
Non-traumatic brain injuries occur from internal or neurodegenerative conditions that cause damage to the neurons. Infection, alcohol abuse, hypoxia, anoxia, stroke, and tumors can all cause this damage. The result is a progressive deterioration of brain function; issues with memory, speaking, muscle control, problem-solving and reasoning are all quite common.
If you or a loved one has experienced brain damage or had any of these conditions made worse by someone else’s negligence, a lawyer who specializes in personal injury can help. These types of attorneys will evaluate your case, explain your legal rights, and establish a course of action. He or she can determine how much monetary compensation you are entitled to receive as well. A personal injury attorney has plenty of experience handling these types of claims and knows exactly how to take your case to court. He or she will handle all aspects of the case from gathering evidence, to locating expert witnesses. This will allow you to focus on your or your loved one’s recovery, while getting back to some state of normalcy.