What is TBI?

TBI Image TBI = Damage to the Brain From an Injury

TBI is an acronym for Traumatic Brain Injury. Traumatic brain injury occurs in over one and a half million persons each year in the United States. TBI can come from a wide variety of incidents such as vehicle accidents, sporting accidents and even falls.

A TBI occurs when the head is jolted or takes a blow that interferes with the normal function of the brain. Injuries can be mild or severe. Mild brain injury (concussion) being a short loss of consciousness and severe brain injury meaning long term coma or unconsciousness after the injury.

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (Concussion)

Mild TBI in the form of a concussion can be recognized by the patient being irritable, having trouble sleeping, headaches, blurred vision and having a hard time thinking clearly. Persons who suffer with mild TBI can recover at different paces depending on the extent of the injury. Some recover in a couple of days, some take weeks to recover. It may take an older person longer to recover than it takes a young person to recover. Due to the cumulative damage of concussions persons having prior concussions may take a little longer to recover. Sadness, fatigue and nausea may also be signs to look for with a mild concussion.

Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

Severe TBI can be obtained in two ways. The “closed” concept is when the patient has been in a car accident or has been hit in the head by an object. The “penetrating” concept is when the patient has suffered from something such as a gunshot wound to the head or a sharp object has penetrated the skull.

The effects of severe TBI can be memory loss, poor balance and changes in the patient’s personality such as anxiety, aggression and uncontrolled emotions. It can take months and even years for someone who has suffered a severe trauma to return to their normal self.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

According to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University, “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is the only PREVENTABLE cause of dementia”.

CTE used to be associated only with boxers and was called, ‘punch drunk syndrome’ or ‘dementia pugillistica’ and thought to be a result of repetitive hits to the head during a boxer’s career.  However, brain research is showing that any activity that results in severe and repeated blows to the head can result in symptoms including: altered levels of consciousness, headaches, memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, poor concentration, paranoia, problems with impulse control, irritability, personality changes, gait abnormalities, weakness, sensory losses, incontinence, depression, increased symptoms with exertion and, eventually progressive dementia similar to Alzheimer’s disease.

 Activities where these types of activities can occur include contact sports such as football, soccer and boxing; military personnel at risk for blast injuries; and non-contact sports at high risk for falls, including cheerleading.

Concussion injuries can include loss of consciousness, confusion and amnesia.  Second-Impact Syndrome (SIS)[ where a second head injury occurs before the symptoms of the first head injury have been resolved] can initially appear mild, as a daze.  However, SIS can cause cerebral edema and herniation resulting in death within minutes.

Helmets and protective gear are not the exclusive answer.  The problem is the repetitive travel and shear of the brain inside the skull.  Prevention includes safety gear, but also accurate and timely evaluation and recognition of injury as well as compliance with treatment recommendations including leave of absence or termination of participation in the activity.

Skilled and appropriate neurological examinations need to include concussion evaluations such as the Cantu and Kelly Systems with evaluate up to four levels of severity and time of loss of consciousness, confusion and post injury anmesia, for up to three concussion injuries.  Neurological assessments need to include verbal, memory, cognitive, sensory, motor and reflex testing.  Neurological testing also needs to include radiographical imaging studies, a detailed medical and personal history and, appropriate elimination of other diagnostic differentials such as brain masses, contusions, dehydration, seizure disorders and substance abuse.

CTE used to only be able to be diagnosed after a patient’s death, during autopsy.  This is due to the past difficulty in identifying ‘tau proteins’ specific to CTE, that web a neurofibrillary tangle and thread in the brain, but was previously only identifiable with brain tissue.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles are using a new technique with a radio isotope tracer that binds to the tau protein and shows up in bright colors ranging from red to yellow on a PET scan [Positron emission tomography] and identifies the tau protein deposits in the brain.  The goal is to be able to identify CTE before permanent brain damage has occurred.

Treatment of an initial brain injury can take up to 18 months and can include symptom management of headaches, pain, dizziness and cognitive effects, with pain management, surgical intervention and physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and recreational therapy.

 At the current time, there is no cure for CTE.  Treatment research is focused on a causative theory of uncontrolled inflammation.  However the symptoms are difficult to live with and can mean a long life with cognitive and neurological deficits and a poor quality of life.

TBI Treatment Protocols

Someone who has suffered a TBI should see a physician immediately and follow the treatment protocol given. There are many different kinds of treatments and procedures for patients of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

  1. Initial treatment allows the patient to stabilize immediately following a traumatic brain injury.
  2. Rehabilitative treatment centers help to reestablish the patient to daily life.
  3. Acute treatment protocol for a TBI is designed to minimizing secondary injuries and life support.
  4. Surgical procedures may be necessary to prevent secondary injury from decreased blood flow and oxygen to the brain and reduce swelling and pressure that could cause permanent damage.


The patient should always communicate symptoms with the physician while under supervised care. The patient should communicate both physically and emotionally changes during the recuperation period. Good communication is a great key to insuring that the patient receives the proper care.

Free Legal Case Evaluation

The Avery Law Firm has been in practice since 1989 in the Denver, CO area. He has an over 90 percent success rate of all of his cases. Although he started his career representing doctors, hospitals and other such institutions–he decided to represent individuals who, unfortunately, have incurred life-changing injuries such ones that affect the brain.

For more information on how an skilled traumatic brain injury lawyer can help you, and a free consultation, call our Denver, CO office (303)840-2222, or toll-free at (866)987-4368. Do not delay; once the Statute of Limitations for your type of brain injury has passed, we cannot help you collect.

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