ER Reports Increase in Traumatic Brain Injuries
The L.A. Times reports the number of patients seeking treatment for traumatic brain injuries (TBI) or concussions in U.S. emergency rooms is growing. Between 2006 and 2010, the number of visits by patients seeking treatment for such injuries grew by 29.1% while total ER visits during that period only grew by 3.6%, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School wrote there may be an actual increase in the number of head injuries or the figures may be a sign that Americans are taking these injuries more seriously. The report notes both factors may be contributing to the increase. There is no question our society is more aware of these injuries due to the exposure of head injuries suffered by professional athletes and our veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
This heightened awareness is a good thing, because a brain injury/concussion should never be taken lightly or ignored. By definition a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). However those terms can be misleading as research shows the effects of a MTBI are often anything but mild. The Brain Injury Association of America explains the term “mild” is in reference to the severity of the initial physical trauma that caused the injury. It does not indicate the severity of the consequences of the injury. Duration of symptoms from a concussion or MTBI can be days, weeks, months or even longer in some cases.
MTBI victims likely will have negative CT or MRI results and such results are not determinative of whether someone has or has not suffered a MTBI. The current understanding of these injuries shifted away from focusing on physical or anatomical damage to an emphasis on cognitive dysfunction and other symptoms. Clinical signs or symptoms of MTBI include: headaches, nausea, balance or vision problems, memory issues/forgetfulness, reduced processing speed, confusion, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, changes in sleep patterns, dizziness, irritability, increased emotions or anxiety. Often these symptoms are aggravated physical or mental activity.
Obtaining a timely and accurate diagnosis of TBI can be critical to the potential outcome and long-term effects of such injuries. Many times victims of brain injuries will not receive the proper diagnosis in the emergency room because attention is devoted to more life threatening or acute injuries. Once a CT or MRI is done and it is verified that there is no bleeding in the brain then the head injury can often be overlooked.
If you or someone you know is suffering from the symptoms noted above or discussed in greater detail in the Centers for Disease Control Facts About TBI or has been diagnosed with a concussion or other head injury it is important they seek medical treatment for that injury.
If the injury resulted from an accident it is also important to contact a qualified personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable about brain injuries and how to handle such cases. The personal injury attorneys at Maschka, Riedy & Ries have represented many victims of brain injuries and their families and have the knowledge and resources to ensure fair compensation in such cases. Our attorneys have represented clients throughout the State of Minnesota and the United States in such cases. Please contact us today for a free consultation.