It can happen in the blink of an eye. A negligent Illinois driver is distracted by a cellphone or driving under the influence of alcohol, and crashes into your car. After such an accident, a hospital will treat cuts, bruises and broken bones. While these outward symptoms are easy to detect, serious and less apparent injuries are also common following automobile accidents. Specifically, traumatic brain injuries often result from motor vehicle accidents, but can be difficult to diagnose.
A recent study from the University of Oklahoma illustrates the importance of proper diagnosis and treatment for traumatic brain injuries. According to the study, which centered on traumatic brain injuries sustained by veterans while in combat, the symptoms of the injuries can continue and even become worse, as time progresses.
The researchers examined 500 veterans who had sustained traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, while fighting in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The physicians studied the “persistence and severity of head injury symptoms” for veterans – four, five and eight years after they were injured. The symptoms they looked for included those referred to as “post-concussion syndrome” when considered as a group. They include:
The results found that, even for veterans who had been injured eight years prior, none of the symptoms dissipated. For instance, of the veterans injured four years prior, 46 percent reported suffering from severe headaches – of those injured eight years prior, 51 percent reported they still suffered from severe headaches.
While many of the veterans in the study were injured in explosions while in combat, the researchers found that the results were relatively similar for those who sustained injuries from motor vehicle accidents.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 1.7 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries every year. One of the main causes of TBIs is motor vehicle accidents, accounting for 17.3 percent of these injuries each year. Traffic accidents were the leading cause of traumatic brain injury-related deaths as well, accounting for 31.8 percent, according to the CDC.
As the Oklahoma study indicated, the symptoms from TBIs are serious and can continue long after an initial injury. As a result, the costs of properly treating such injuries can be exorbitant. According to the CDC, in 2000 traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. cost approximately $76.5 billion, after taking into account expenses such as medical bills and lost productivity.
According to the Mayo Clinic, apart from a possible emergency room visit following the injury, additional treatment may be required, including medication, surgery and rehabilitation.
While the results from this study may be disheartening, it emphasizes the importance of identifying TBIs before accepting any insurance settlement offer. The data from the study suggests those who suffer TBIs may require medical care for many years. Consequently, recovering damages to help pay for medical expenses could be a necessity. A skilled personal injury attorney can ensure the injured party’s rights are protected.