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What should I do if a loved one has sustained a traumatic brain injury?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a complex injury with a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities. The impact on a person and his or her family can be devastating. TBI is a common injury and may be missed initially when the medical team is focused on saving the individual's life. Before medical knowledge and technology advanced to control breathing with respirators and decrease intracranial pressure, which is the pressure in the fluid surrounding the brain, the death rate from traumatic brain injuries was very high. Although the medical technology has advanced significantly, the effects of TBI are significant.

A brain injury can be classified as mild if loss of consciousness and/or confusion and disorientation is shorter than 30 minutes. While MRI and CAT scans are often normal, the individual has cognitive problems such as headache, difficulty thinking, memory problems, attention deficits, mood swings and frustration. These injuries are commonly overlooked. Even though this type of TBI is called "mild", the effect on the family and the injured person can be devastating.

Severe brain injury is associated with loss of consciousness for more than 30 minutes and memory loss after the injury or penetrating skull injury longer than 24 hours. The deficits range from impairment of higher level cognitive functions to comatose states. Survivors may have limited function of arms or legs, abnormal speech or language, loss of thinking ability or emotional problems. The range of injuries and degree of recovery is very variable and varies on an individual basis.

When an individual or a loved one sustains a traumatic brain injury there are many questions that need to addressed related to properly caring for the victim and paying for that care. Depending on how the injury was sustained there may be one or more potential sources of benefits available to the injured person. These include automobile insurance, health and accident insurance, government benefits and workers compensation. In addition there are issues related to Guardianship and Long-term care that merit review.

Most attorneys will work on a contingency basis - where they take their fee from any settlement - in traumatic brain injury cases.

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