A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result in both immediate and long-term health complications for the patient. Some effects from traumatic brain injury are common and others less frequent, but an individual’s risk of developing some type of health problem increases with the severity of injury.
One of the most common complications from TBI is seizure immediately following the injury. These seizures occur in approximately half of patients who suffer from a penetrating cranial injury and about one quarter of individuals with non-penetrating injuries. Seizures immediately following TBI increase the risk of additional “early seizures,” those occurring within a week after the injury. Doctors prescribe anticonvulsants to help patients reduce the number and severity of seizures.
Cerebrospinal Fluid Leaks
A liquid called cerebrospinal fluid surrounds the spinal cord. A complication can arise when this fluid leaks, accumulating inside the brain. This can happen immediately after the injury or weeks later. Doctors typically diagnose the condition within a year of the injury.
Fluid can leak from skull fractures or torn membranes surrounding the brain. To treat the condition, doctors must drain the fluids from the cavities where they accumulate.
Cerebrospinal fluid leaks can make patients more susceptible to infections like meningitis. Infections develop in the first couple of weeks after the injury, typically from a fractured skull or penetrating injury. Doctors prescribe antibiotics to help the brain fight infection. They will sometimes order surgery to remove damaged tissue around the brain to stop the infection from worsening.
Blood flow to the brain is vital for sustaining life, so any injury to the head has the potential to starve brain cells of blood flow and oxygen. While the body can fight off infections and injuries in smaller blood vessels, larger blood vessels are much harder to repair. Damage to these vessels can cause serious health problems if the body cannot heal them. Strokes, aneurysms, hemorrhaging, and blood clotting are all complications that can arise due to a compromised vascular system.
Skull fractures can lead to cranial nerve injuries, especially at the base of the skull. The head contains 12 cranial nerves, three of which control head and brain functions. The facial nerve is the most likely to suffer damage after TBI. Injury to the face nerve can cause facial paralysis, severely impeding a patient’s sense of self-esteem and ability to communicate.
For those who fall into coma after a head injury, additional complications become common. Pneumonia, persistent bladder infections, and skin sores are serious complications that patients in a coma or vegetative states experience frequently.
If you or someone you love suffered a traumatic brain injury and you would like to learn more about your options, contact our office. Our caring, experienced attorneys will review your case, free of charge. We will work to ensure you receive financial compensation to which you may be entitled, helping you pay for the high cost of medical treatment.