Doctors define a traumatic brain injury as any injury to the brain caused by a trauma -- a sudden blow, jolt or wound to the head -- that disrupts normal brain function. (This distinguishes them from brain injuries caused by non-traumas, such as oxygen deprivation.) A wide variety of normal daily activities -- driving a car, walking down stairs, sports -- could result in a traumatic brain injury. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common causes of a TBI are:
- Falls, at 28%. This type of TBI is suffered disproportionately by children under 5 and adults over 75.
- Motor vehicle accidents, at 20%. Car crashes are also the leading cause of TBI-related hospitalization.
- Bring struck by or against something, at 19%. This can include being hit by a vehicle.
- Assaults, at 11%. Brain injuries caused by firearms are the most common cause of death from a TBI; suicides account for two-thirds of firearm TBIs. Another type of assault that commonly leads to a TBI is shaking a baby.
Since the launch of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, combat has also become a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center reports that at least 30% of active-duty troops will sustain some level of TBI; among troops who have been exposed to a blast from an improvised explosive device, the Center has estimated the rate as high as two-thirds. The CDC reports that certain military duties, such as paratrooper, raise a soldier's risk of sustaining a TBI.
Males, African Americans, small children and teens between 15 and 19 are all disproportionately likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury.
When victims suffer any of these types of head injuries, the blow jars the brain within the skull, destroying brain cells and the connections between them. The parts of the brain that are damaged this way cannot grow back, although the brain may adapt to their loss; their functions become difficult or impossible to perform. Depending on where and how the injury took place, victims may be left with problems with physical movement, memory, mental health, emotional control, speech or other serious, life-changing disabilities.
Traumatic brain injuries are catastrophic, often leaving victims permanently impaired and requiring years of medical treatment. In addition to their TBI injuries, victims may be physically injured, emotionally traumatized and unable to work. All of these injuries can dramatically change the life of a victim and his or her family -- and they can be very expensive. If you or someone you care about sustained a traumatic brain injury due to another person's negligence, you have the right to pursue justice through the courts. Call the experienced New York brain injury attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP at (212) 986-7353 today for a free evaluation of your case.