During football season, it is common to see football players giving their all and going head to head on the gridiron. Yet, the past few seasons, there is a new procedure where players are taken out of the game to be evaluated under what is called the "concussion protocol" if they have hit their heads. This protocol consists of five graduating steps that the player must pass in order to be cleared for return to that game or following games.
So what has changed that has made the NFL more cautious about putting players back out on the field? We now know that the effects of traumatic brain injuries are long-lasting and need specialized medical attention. At the time of injury, the patient may not show immediate symptoms or visible trauma.
It is not just the NFL that is taking head injuries more seriously either. Referred to as the "signature wound" of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, traumatic brain injuries are the most common combat wounds received by soldiers. So many, that the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center has reported that 30 percent of the soldiers brought to Walter Reed Army Medical Center since 2003 have suffered from traumatic brain injuries.
How the View of Traumatic Brain Injuries has Evolved
The World Health Organization has recognized TBI as a leading cause of long-term disability throughout the world in both industrialized and developed countries. It is expected to surpass most other diseases as the leading cause of death and disability by 2020, affecting an estimated 10 million people. In the United States, 30 percent of all injury-related fatalities can be attributed to TBI. More than 2.5 million people in this country alone suffered from this type of injury in 2010. Currently, it is estimated that 5.3 million Americans are suffering from TBI-related disabilities.
Those suffering from a traumatic brain injury may never be able to return to how their lives were before they were injured. The financial impact can be staggering with medical care and therapy costs skyrocketing to millions of dollars over the course of a lifetime for moderate or severe TBIs. Their families suffer from the financial burden and often will need to provide assistance to the injured for even the most basic of needs.
The effects of such an injury can have an impact that reaches much further than the victim's or his family's lives. Brain traumas can also cause a large toll on society and the economy as a whole. In 2010, the economic cost of traumatic injuries to the brain was $76.5 billion. This amount included both direct and indirect medical costs. Out of this figure, 90 percent could be attributed to the cost of hospitalizations for those who succumb to their brain injury or require long-term hospitalization for severe brain trauma.
Categorizing Traumatic Brain Injuries
Severe traumatic brain injuries fall into two categories:
- Closed injury. A brain injury that is caused when the brain moves from within the skull and bounces off the inner skull. This can occur during a motor vehicle crash, a fall, or when hit in the head with blunt force. The effects of this type of TBI may not always be apparent at the onset.
- Penetrating injury. An injury that occurs when a foreign object pierces the skull and enters the brain. This type of injury can occur from being struck or stabbed with a sharp object or being shot with a firearm. Victims that suffer from a penetrating injury are more likely to show the most symptoms of TBI immediately following their injury.
- Physicians will use several classification tools to determine the severity of the brain injury to determine the course of treatment and the expected outcome for the victim. One such tool is the Glasgow Coma Scale that is used to assess coma and impaired consciousness to determine the severity of the brain injury. Patients that receive a score between three and eight are considered to have severe brain trauma. Those who receive scores in the nine to 12 range are diagnosed with moderate TBI, while patients that receive a score between 13 to 15 are considered to have mild TBI.
Protecting the Rights of the Injured in Algonquin
After receiving a head injury, it is important for the injured to receive immediate treatment to determine the severity of the injury and lessen further damage to the brain. Once the patient's immediate medical needs are met, injured victims should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer to get compensation.
Some insurance companies will push to settle a TBI case quickly to keep their costs low. Unfortunately, many injury victims will feel pressured to settle because they are under financial duress from lost wages or being unable to work. A personal injury lawyer can assist in negotiating a fair settlement that can help cover present and future expenses related to their care to help them live their lives as normally as possible.