Brain injuries can happen in seconds, but they can affect those involved for the rest of their lives. If you love someone who has a brain injury, you’ll find yourself plunged into a world with a strange language all it’s own.
These are some terms that you need to be familiar with in order to successfully navigate the terrain.
Types of primary brain injuries
The first thing that your loved one’s doctors are going to discuss is the type of injuries he or she has suffered. The type, location and severity of the injury can often give you clues about what problems your loved one will have:
- Contusions are essentially bruises, which means that there’s bleeding happening inside the victim’s brain.
- Penetrating trauma means that some object has pierced the brain, which means skull fragments have been pushed inside the victim’s skull, causing further damage.
- Acquired brain injuries come from non-traumatic means, like oxygen deprivation. A common cause of this type of injury is drowning. Heart attacks are another. An individual who goes without sufficient oxygen to support brain function until he or she starts breathing again can end up with brain injuries that are just as serious as traumatic ones.
Levels of brain injuries
Brain injuries are unpredictable because the real damage comes from the swelling, cell death and inflammation that follow the initial injury. Brain injuries are classed in three ways:
- Mild brain injuries can occur with only a minimal loss of consciousness (under a few minutes) or none at all. It can also be characterized by feeling confused. However brain scans will be normal and the victim usually returns to normal.
- Moderate brain injuries can cause lost consciousness, confusion that lasts for weeks and may or may not leave the victim with permanent physical or mental impairments. Swelling and inflammation can occur and damage may be seen on scans.
- Severe brain injuries require prolonged hospitalization and are often characterized by a wide range of problems, from a lasting coma to exposed tissue and crushed skulls. There is seldom a return to the pre-injury state of being.
It’s important to discuss the victim’s status with his or her physician in order to know what to expect for the future. In addition, anyone who suffers a brain injury should explore their legal options as soon as possible.
Source: Brain Injury Alliance, “Types and Levels of Brain Injury,” accessed Jan. 12, 2018