If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, contact a Salem personal injury attorney at Kelly & Associates for help.
Despite some incredible advancements in technology and medical science, the human brain remains largely a mystery. We know that there are over 100 billion neurons in the brain, all connected like a network. So it’s no surprise that, despite recent advances in medical science, even experts find themselves squinting in the dark somewhat. However, scientists are beginning to understand the crucial mysteries of the brain to start making headway in addressing them.
Naturally, this is a topic of immediate concern for anyone whose loved one has recently received a TBI (traumatic brain injury), also referred to as intracranial injury. Traumatic brain injury can be caused by a violent jolt or blow to the body or head, or when an object penetrates the skull and reaches the brain tissue.
Fortunately, most traumatic brain injuries are mild. However, there’s no one size fits all, and all severity levels of traumatic brain injury have the potential to cause long-lasting disability.
Below is a brief overview of the latest science on recovering from a TBI.
How Does the Brain Recover?
The human brain has a remarkable ability to heal and change itself in response to mental trauma and experience. Thanks to this ability, the brain has two ways it can “heal itself ” after an intracranial injury:
– Repairing damaged brain cells or growing new ones. This process is called neurogenesis.
– Rewiring or changing brain connections. Here, the brain uses new pathways to fill in for broken brain connections.
The most rapid recovery after TBI usually occurs during the “rewiring” process since the brain’s capacity to heal itself may be somewhat slow and limited. Recovery after traumatic brain injury might also be enabled by using medicines, surgery, or other medical treatments and extensive physical therapy.
Indicators of Recovery
Recovery after TBI can continue well into the second or third year of treatment. For this reason, doctors don’t rush to make any predictions about a patient’s recovery. Besides, the recovery time and outcomes vary from one patient to the next. There’s no clear way to tell which patients will recover quickly and which ones won’t. However, some symptoms do appear to suggest a higher probability of significant recovery. These include:
– Age of patient between 2 and 60
– Shorter duration of coma
– Shorter duration of post-traumatic amnesia
Some studies suggest recovery might benefit from support from friends and family, long-term rehabilitative care, overall good health habits of the patient, the patient’s spiritual faith, positive attitude, and optimistic personality, and avoidance of stress.
Stages of Recovery
Typically, the most significant recovery from TBI occurs during the first 6-12 months after the injury. That said, some patients recover many years after the date of the injury.
Here, the patient is usually unconscious, unable to perceive, hear, speak, or respond. However, the vital early stages of recovery may already be happening. Stages of TBI recovery include:
Patients in this state remain in a coma, but sleep-wake cycles resume. Nurses and loved ones may begin to notice reflexes now and then – including blinking eyes – which are not necessarily responses to specific stimuli but indicators of progressive recovery. It’s important to note that some specialists do not recognize “vegetative state” as a state of recovery.
Minimally Conscious State
The patient gradually begins to regain consciousness, usually for brief periods. The patient may begin to regain his or her perception and ability to respond to stimuli. Some patients can hear and speak and even follow instructions.
Having regained consciousness fully, a majority of patients will begin to show signs of improvement from day to day. During this stage, the patient may experience difficulties with memory, sometimes unable to recognize their family members or surroundings. This type of memory loss is also known as post-traumatic amnesia and may occur irregularly throughout early recovery.
After the initial stages of recovery, the patient must learn to adapt to any new changes or limitations (whether mental, emotional, physical, or social) brought about by intracranial injury. Support from loved ones and caregivers is crucial as the patient learns to live their life without full recovery.
Transitioning from one stage to the next might not always be progressive or linear. Some patients progress really fast from one stage to the next. Others may linger at one stage for months before progressing to the next. There are also those who show early signs of progression, only to suddenly regress.
Scientists hope to someday come up with a more precise TBI recovery timeline and consequently answer to the question: “how long does it take to recover from a traumatic brain injury?” While the lack of conclusive answers can be scary and less than encouraging, loved ones can take hope in this fact: technology and brain science are currently advancing at an unprecedented pace.
What Statistics Say: How Long Does It Take To Recover From a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A study conducted by Dr. Tamara Bushnik, Ph.D., Dr. Thomas Novack, Ph.D., together with the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC), found that:
– 25% of patients experienced significant depression after a traumatic brain injury. Depression can be the direct result of the injury itself or from the challenges and changes that the injury brings about.
– Two years after their traumatic brain injury, more than 90% of people end up living in a private home instead of a nursing facility.
– Among those TBI patients living alone before the injury, about 50% returned to living alone two years after the injury.
– However, 30% of these patients still need some form of in-home help.
– Approximately 50% of traumatic brain injury patients are able to drive again within two years of the injury (though usually with limitation on how often, when, and how long they can stay behind the wheel).
– Only about 30% of patients who experience a moderate to severe intracranial injury are able to return to work within the first two years (and not always to their previous jobs).
Schedule a Consultation With a Salem Personal Injury Attorney for a Traumatic Brain Injury
Kelly & Associates is a personal injury law firm in Massachusetts with many years of experience in assisting injured people and their loved ones to pursue the financial justice they deserve. We have worked with many traumatic brain injury victims and their families, and we can guide you through the claim process and advance your best interests in every stage.
We offer a confidential free initial consultation to victims of TBI in Massachusetts. When you work with a Salem personal injury attorney at our law firm, we will not ask you to pay legal fees unless we get you compensation.
Time limits apply to TBI claims in Massachusetts, so please act quickly. Call 1-800-LAW-GUYS to get started.