Today is the second day of Action for Brain Injury Week. The aim of this week is to raise awareness of brain injuries and the challenges that those who have suffered a brain injury may face.
As specialists in both child and adult brain injury claims we understand the difficulties faced by people with invisible injuries. Today we are explaining just some of the many causes and effects of a brain injury to help raise awareness.
Causes of Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury
This type of brain injury can occur after a trauma to the head following a road traffic accident, assaults, falls and accidents at home or in the workplace.
Head injuries are the commonest cause of death and disability in people aged between 1 and 40 in the UK (NICE Health and social care directorate, Quality Standards and indicators Briefing Paper: 2014).
There are more than 100,000 strokes each year in the UK; around one stroke every five minutes (State of the Nation Stroke statistics – January 2017).
Strokes occur when the supply of blood to the brain is disrupted. A stroke can either be ischemic (a blood clot in brain cells), caused by narrowing of the arteries over time or haemorrhagic (a blood leak in the brain cells), mainly caused by high blood pressure.
Hypoxic brain injury
This type of brain injury occurs when the brain is starved of oxygen causing individuals to lose consciousness after 15 seconds, and causing damage to the brain after approximately 4 minutes. There are many reasons why this type of brain injury may occur and include hypoxia during birth, cardiac arrest, a severe asthma attack, smoke inhalation and allergic reactions.
Meningitis is an infection which can cause the meninges, protective barriers that line the brain and spinal cord, to become inflamed. This inflammation can lead to the increase of pressure around the brain which will result in brain damage. The infection itself can be bacterial, viral or fungal and can be life threatening.
Meningitis is most common in babies, children, and young adults and can cause not only permanent brain damage but also septicaemia, a life threatening blood poisoning condition.
Effects of Brain Injury
The effects of a brain injury, however caused, are varied. Some may be temporary and mild such as headaches and dizziness, or permanent and severe such as depression and cognitive impairment.
The long term effects of a brain injury can affect almost every facet of an individual's life including communication, their emotions and behaviour, and their cognitive abilities.
Many individuals will suffer with what is known as asphasia, which leads to difficulties with understanding language and an inability to coherently express. An individual may also struggle to read and write.
The impairment of an individuals cognition will depend on which area of the brain has been damaged. Perhaps most common is short term memory impairment, such as the inability to recognise and remember a person's face or name. An individual may also find it difficult to collate their thoughts.
An individual may never regain control over their behaviour and may remain disinhibited, unpredictable, impulsive and socially inappropriate. These side effects can vary tremendously and can often be the most difficult to deal with for the individual and their families.
Brain injuries can also affect an individual's movement, which may necessitate the need for wheelchairs or other mobility aids. Strokes can also lead to parts of the body becoming paralysed.
Another side effect of a brain injury is the potential to become vulnerable to epileptic seizures, which may lead to excessive tiredness, and fatigue.
As a result of a brain injury an individual may lose sense of who they are and, Headway, a leading Brain Injury Charity, liken brain injuries as being “…similar to going through bereavement: the healing process is made up of grief, denial, anger, acceptance, and finally, resolution. However, this process can take many years to run its course”
How can we help?
Throughout the week we at Freeths will be playing our own part to raise awareness of brain injury and to highlight the work of brain injury charities and other organisations and initiatives.
Our specialist Clinical Negligence team has years of experience in dealing with the effects of poor medical care following a brain injury.
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have suffered a brain injury as a result of medical treatment or care please contact Claire Cooper (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0845 274 6830) for a free and confidential discussion of your legal options.