A healthy brain does not stay still inside the head; rather, it floats inside the skull in a protective layer of fluid. Inside the brain are nerve cells called neurons that perform the functions of the brain; the connections between them, which carry messages to and from neurons, are essential to the brain's normal function. Different areas of the brain are responsible for different brain functions. Although medicine and the study of the brain have answered many difficult questions about brain function, doctors still do not fully understand the relationship between parts of the brain and the corresponding functions in the body and our thoughts. The cerebellum, for example, is thought to control movement and the senses. Injuries to the frontal lobe can affect emotions, executive reasoning, mood, short-term memory and word-finding ability.
Types of Brain Injuries
When the brain sustains a blow, it can be damaged in several ways:
- The brain may be jolted violently within the skull, twisting and breaking the connections between neurons. A strong blow may damage the brain cells themselves. By itself, this is called a closed head injury. This is the type of injury most common in shaken baby syndrome, and in military TBIs sustained from blast injuries
- The brain may be penetrated by a weapon, shrapnel or other loose objects, or by a piece of its own broken skull, damaging the brain cells directly. This is called a penetrating head injury, and it can occur along with a closed head injury.
- As a secondary injury, the brain may bleed heavily, which can cause further brain damage by depriving the brain of oxygen or building up pressure that can crush brain cells. Oxygen deprivation (ischemia, anoxia or hypoxia) kills brain cells within minutes by depriving them of the fuel they need to survive.
A brain injury that is concentrated in one area is called a focal head injury; one that injures neurons throughout the brain is called a diffuse head injury. Because a focal head injury is limited to a specific area of the brain, patients lose specific functions; a diffuse head injury can affect a variety of functions. Diffuse injuries to the neural connections occur in almost half of all serious head traumas; and, are a leading cause of coma and vegetative state. In either case, doctors may not be able to accurately predict a patient's injuries.
Once brain tissue has been destroyed, it cannot grow back the way other tissues do. That means that when part of the brain is damaged, those parts cannot do their jobs anymore, or they cannot do their jobs well, although the brain may find ways to adapt. Thus, a patient with a traumatic brain injury may lose certain functions for life. Those functions can include anything the brain controls: physical movement, unconscious regulation of body functions, intellectual tasks, the senses, learning, memory, emotional tasks, and many more. In addition, patients with a traumatic brain injury are at increased risk for serious neurological problems, including epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia and depression.
Traumatic brain injury patients may face permanent disabilities, years of medical attention and therapies and even personality changes. In addition to the physical and emotional changes in their lives, these can be extremely expensive for an ordinary family, especially if the victim can no longer work. If you or someone you love has sustained a traumatic brain injury because of another person's negligence, you should speak to the experienced attorneys at The Houston Brain Injury Attorneys - The Merman Law Firm.
The Houston Brain Injury Lawyers at the Merman Law Firm are experienced in all aspects of brain injuries. Our attorneys work with the premier specialists in the country to ensure that our clients receive the best care available to speed up the recovery process and maximize recovery for the injured person and their family. The Houston brain injury lawyers at the Merman Law Firm have been instrumental in recovering millions of dollars for their clients suffering from catastrophic brain injuries.
For additional information regarding the causes and symptoms of traumatic brain injuries, click on the links below for more information provided by the Mayo Clinic.