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Kevin Coluccio
Kevin Coluccio
Attorney • (206) 448-1777

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury – the invisible injury

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This past weekend concussions suffered by three National Football League quarterbacks illustrated a common problem found with those suffering traumatic brain injuries. One news report indicated that 25% of the National Football League games on Sunday say a starting quarterback leave the game with a concussion. It has been reported that three professional athletes continued to play after suffering concussions. They were eventually pulled from their games.

A mild traumatic brain injury is different from other serious injuries as the injury is not detected. Other serious injuries such as broken bones, a torn knee injury or a separated shoulder are detected quickly. Treatment for those injuries often occurs immediately.

An estimated 1.7 million children and adults in the United States sustain a trumatic brain injury. Some believe that this number is much greater, as many mild traumatic brain injuries are not reported each year.

Currently more than 3.1 million children and adults in the United States live with a lifelong disability as a result of a traumatic brain injury. Many mild traumatic brain injuries go undetected.

Symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury may include the following:

* Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes

* No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused or disoriented

* Memory or concetration problems

* Headache

* Dizziness or loss of balance

* Nausea or vomiting

* Sensory problems, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears or a bad taste

* Sensitivity to light or sound

*Mood changes

*Feelings depressed or anxious

*Fatique or drowsiness

*Difficulty sleeping

*Sleeping more than usual

Remember that these symptoms can be very subtle and can go unnoticed, except by those closest to the person suffering the traumatic brain injury. Often the victim denies symptoms. It is estimated that 15% of the mild traumatic brain injuries suffered result in permanent disabilities.

Mild traumatic brain Injuries can have devastating effects if not recognized and treated. These effects include serious permanent brain and neurological injuries if multiple mild traumatic brain injuries are suffered. They also include an inability to control emotions, frustration which can lead to isolation and in some cases suicide, abuse of alcohol and drugs and long term problems such as persistent headaches, sleep pattern changes and mood changes, if proper medical treatment is not received.

Current research suggests that those suffering multiple mild traumatic brain injuries are at a much higher risk to suffer from the early on-set of dementia. Recently Sports Iillustrated reported ont he struggles of former National Football League quarterback Jim McMahon. His story, unfortunately is all too common.

What is clear is that precautions need to be taken with respect to anyone suspected of suffering a traumatic brain injury of any kind. This is especially true when it comes to our children who play sports and lack the knowledge and ability to determine whether or not they have suffered a traumatic brain injury. The New York State Department of Health has prepared a prevention outline, which is worth reviewing. Your practice should always to be error on the side of caution.

We are fortunate to have many organizations across the country dedicated to protecting against traumatic brain injuries and providing resources for the treatment and recovery from traumatic brain injuries. One of the most active brain injury organizations is the Washington State Brain Injury Association. That organization was instrumental in having pass laws to effectively prevent and diagnose cases of traumatic brain injuries. Nearly every state now have laws in effect to prevent and protect against traumatic brain injuries.