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Simple Bumps to the Head Can Cause Traumatic Brain Injuries

Casey Woodruff

brain injuryOne of the most serious forms of personal injury is a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can be a severely debilitating and even life-threatening injury. While most of us think about TBIs in relation to contact sports or car accidents, brain injuries actually can happen in ordinary circumstances, according to a recent report from NPR. Indeed, “a simple bump can cause an insidious brain injury,” yet patients and their physicians often do not know that a severe personal injury has occurred until it is too late.

To better understand how TBIs can happen in seemingly banal situations but can pose serious consequences for everyday life, we should take a closer look at the report and its findings.
 

Failing to Diagnose Brain Injuries

Although we do not like to think about it, a seemingly innocuous bump to the head at home can result in a serious injury to the brain. Take for example, a patient who “knocked the top of his head against a wood beam” in his attic. Because he “didn’t even get a cut, he forgot about it.” However, several months later, he began to experience symptoms of that bump to the head.

At the time he bumped his head, he also re-injured his back, but decided to take painkillers and return to his daily activities. His backache grew worse over the following weeks, however, and he soon had difficulty walking. Additionally, he grew weak and was unable to carry even lightweight objects. In general, he and others around him recognized that he had become slower. He went to visit a neurosurgeon who had previously treated his back. The neurosurgeon ordered an MRI and discovered that the patient had a subdural hematoma—bleeding on the brain.

Subdural hematomas, the article explains, are more serious than “typical blast injuries,” such as those that impact active military. Subdural hematomas are also different than the types of brain injuries that occur when we fall from heights, or when we sustain a concussion on the football field due to a blow to the head.  Subdural hematomas often fail to have signs or symptoms until they have become very serious.

Elderly at Particular Risk for Subdural Hematomas 

Older adults are at higher risk of a subdural hematoma than are other age groups. The article suggests that, to better understand why the elderly are at particular risk, we need to imagine the way a brain ages. First, it is necessary to picture what a normal, healthy brain looks like: it is “wrapped and protected by a membrane called the dura mater,” and “inside the dura, there’s a network of veins that connect it to the surface of the brain.” When the brain ages it “shrinks and pulls away from the dura,” but “the veins keep holding on to both the dura and the brain.” As a result, “as your brain pulls away, some of those veins become more exposed and more vulnerable.”

And you do not even need to hit your head to sustain a serious brain injury.  Beginning to fall and catching yourself—such that your brain “jerks in the air”—can also result in head trauma.

If you or someone you love recently suffered a serious personal injury such as a TBI, you should discuss your case with an experienced Champaign personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans today to learn more about how we can assist with your case.

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