Catastrophic injuries conjure up images of plane crashes, earthquakes, and high speed car crashes. But everyday events like commuting to work by car or bike are much more likely to lead to catastrophic injuries than rare but headline-grabbing events.
Catastrophic injuries get their name because of their life-changing physical, mental, and emotional effect on your life. Traumatic brain injuries are a common form of catastrophic injury. Sudden impacts on the skull, such as hitting your head on a windshield when you are rear-ended, can cause mild, moderate or severe brain injuries.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, mild traumatic brain injury symptoms may include temporary unconsciousness, headache, light-headedness, ringing in the ears, lethargy, dizziness, blurred vision, short-term memory loss, and changes in your ability to think clearly or focus. Moderate and severe traumatic brain injury may cause these symptoms plus headaches that do not go away, nausea and vomiting, convulsions or seizures, dilation of the pupils, slurred speech, lack of coordination, confusion, and other personality or cognitive changes.
Concussions are usually considered to be a mild traumatic brain injury and do not cause lasting impairments. Serious brain injuries such as contusions (the bruising of brain tissue) and hematomas (the pooling of blood in the brain) may be considered catastrophic injuries. They can cause lasting damage or death, so proper diagnosis and treatment must occur as quickly as possible after the injury.
Medical evaluations for traumatic brain injury include a physical exam and possibly x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or a neuropsychological assessment. Treatment can range from complete rest for days or weeks to emergency surgery. Treatment may include medication and rehabilitative therapies.
Moderate and severe brain injuries are considered catastrophic injuries when they are particularly serious or when they cause long-term, severe impairment. These brain injuries may cause lasting problems with cognition, communication, behavior, emotions, and the senses. In addition, people who have experienced serious brain injuries may be at higher risk of degenerative diseases that affect the brain.
Obtaining proper diagnosis and treatment for traumatic injuries can be difficult because the full impact of the injury may not be known for months or possibly years after the injury. An experienced catastrophic injury attorney provides expert guidance for your recovery process. A traumatic injury attorney can help you assemble a team of medical experts and treatment providers, and can work with insurance companies to make sure you receive appropriate compensation for your current and future needs.