Additional Information on Brain Injuries

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Brain injuries are much more common than many people realize. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people in the United States sustain brain injuries. The vast majority of brain injuries are traumatic. In this type of injury, the victim suffers a blow to the head. Non-traumatic brain injuries, in which an illness, stroke, or something other than blunt force causes the damage, are less common.

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Because of the complexity of the human brain, predicting the outcome of such injuries is impossible. Thousands of people die as a result of brain injury, and many others must deal with mental and physical effects that may persist for the rest of their lives.

Here are some common causes of brain injuries and across the country:

  • Slips and falls
  • Workplace accidents such as falls from heights or falling debris
  • Attacks
  • Motorcycle or vehicle accidents
  • Nearby explosions

The consequences of a brain injury can be quite mild or permanently disabling. For instance, an individual may have mild memory loss or he or she may have profound physical disabilities. To complicate matters further, the effects of a traumatic brain injury may not be obvious to the victim and his or her loved ones right away. The myriad of possible consequences – including emotional problems, seizures, and personality changes just to name a few – can actually get worse as time passes.

Terms to Understand for Your Brain Injury Case

If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury, the following terms may be useful:

Aneurysm - a blood-filled sac formed in an artery or blood vessel by the weakening of a vessel wall or serious disease.

Anoxia - lack of oxygen to the tissues of an organ which may cause cell death.

Aphasia - loss of the ability to understand and / or produce written or spoken language as the result of a disease or serious injury.

Brain death - an irreversible end to all brain function and activities.

Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) - the fluid that protects the spinal cord and brain, also called spinal fluid.

Closed head injury - injury in which the head is fiercely shaken or strikes an object, not puncturing the skull.

Coma - sleep-like state typically caused by a serious injury from which the victim cannot be aroused.

Computed Tomography (CT) - a scan that creates a series of cross-sectional, 3-demensional X-rays of organs and the head and brain. This technology is also known as computerized axial tomography or CAT scan.

Concussion - serious injury to the brain which is caused by violent shaking or a blow to the head. This injury may cause unexpected and temporary impairment of a variety of brain functions.

Contrecoup - a contusion on one side of the brain which is caused by the brain violently moving back and forth within the skull.

Contusion - swollen brain tissue (bruise) that is mixed with the blood from broken blood vessels.

Depressed skull fracture - a skull fracture in which part of the broken skull presses into brain tissue.

Dysarthria - inability or difficulty articulating words due to brain injury or other serious injury.

Dura Mater - a sturdy, fibrous membrane that lines the brain and spinal cord which is the outermost of the three membranes collectively called the meninges.

Epidural hematoma - bleeding in between the skull and the dura. Also called extradural hemorrhage.

Fluent aphasia - a condition in which a patient can fluently speak but with no meaning, and has difficulty understanding written words or spoken language.

Glasgow Coma Scale - commonly used in the medical profession to assess the level of a coma and brain injury by testing motor responses, use of spoken language, and eye opening.

Global aphasia - inability to produce or understand speech. This disability can be caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control speech and language skills.

Hematoma - damage of a major blood vessel in the head which causes heavy bleeding in or around the brain.

Hemorrhagic stroke - a stroke which is the result of bleeding out of one of the major arteries that leads to the brain.

Hypoxia - decrease in the amounts of oxygen in the brain or other organs.

Intracerebral hematoma - bleeding in the brain which results from damage to a blood vessel.

Intracranial pressure - injury which is caused by buildup of pressure in the brain.

Ischemic stroke - the most common type of stroke, and it is caused by a clot that blocks blood flow within an artery to the brain.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - a noninvasive technique which is used to detect subtle changes in brain tissue by means of magnetic fields.

Neuron - a nerve cell that makes up the spinal cord, nerves, and brain.

Neurotransmitters - movement of chemicals which transmit nerve signals from one neuron to another.

Non-fluent aphasia - a disorder in which people have difficulty remembering words and talking in complete sentences.

Open head injury - a head injury in which the skull is penetrated or punctured by a foreign object.

Persistent vegetative state - a continuing state of severely impaired consciousness, where the patient is unable of move voluntary.

Pneumocephalus - a situation in which air is caught within the intracranial cavity.

Prosodic dysfunction - difficulties with intonation or inflection in speech.

Seizures - convulsions, emotional problems, muscle spasms, and / or unconsciousness caused by abnormal activity of nerve cells in the brain.

Subdural hematoma - bleeding located between the dura and the arachnoid membranes.

Subdural hygroma - fluid buildup between the dura and arachnoid membranes, caused by tears in the arachnoid membrane.

Thrombosis - a blood clot which forms on the brain in the location where an injury occurred.

Vegetative state - a condition in which serious injury patients are unconscious but continue to have a sleep/wake cycle and are sometimes alert.

Ventriculostomy - a surgical process where cerebrospinal fluid is drained from the brain through an opening called a ventricle.

How Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP Can Help

When someone suffers a brain injury, he or she may feel as though the situation is hopeless and that there is nowhere to turn. If someone else was the cause of a brain injury, however, the victim and his or her family may be able to seek damages for lost wages, pain and suffering, hospital bills, and the months or even years of therapy the victim may require.

If you are currently in this situation, it's important to talk to a San Jose brain injury lawyer as soon as possible. He or she can help you decide whether your situation warrants legal action and determine the types of damages you should seek. For a free initial consultation and case evaluation, contact our legal team at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP today.

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