Brain injuries can have long-lasting consequences

Many injuries and illnesses result in disability that entitles the affected person to Social Security disability benefits. One type of injury that is receiving increased attention is traumatic brain injury, also known as TBI.

Ohio recently took an important step toward confronting the problem of TBI. The state legislature enacted a law requiring youth sports coaches to remove a player from a game if the player shows signs of concussion. The injured player would then have to wait at least 24 hours before being allowed to play again, and would need to be cleared by a medical professional.

The new law also requires parents and students to review an information sheet on head injury and concussion before any student can participate in youth sports. The Ohio Department of Health is charged with creating the information sheet.

Facts about TBI

TBI can result from blows or piercing injuries to the skull. Symptoms of a mild TBI or concussion can be minimal. The person who was injured may not lose consciousness at all, or could black out only briefly. Headache, blurred vision, dizziness or lightheadedness may occur. Some other symptoms could include cognitive effects like confusion, poor concentration and memory problems. Occasionally sensory symptoms such as ringing in the ears or a bad taste in the mouth can accompany a mild TBI.

A more serious TBI can bring on all the symptoms of a mild TBI, with more severity. A headache could persist indefinitely. The victim of a severe or moderate TBI can display additional alarming symptoms like vomiting, slurred speech and seizures. The injured person could experience weakness in the arms and legs and loss of coordination. Observers might note that one or both pupils are dilated. It may be difficult or impossible to awaken the injured person from sleep, and some even lapse into a coma.

The aftereffects of TBI

An Ohio sports physician commented that some athletes he'd seen for head injuries had only a mild short-lived headache, while others experienced long-term functional effects and lingering pain. Repeated concussions increase the danger of serious injury.

When TBI is severe, about half of the victims require surgery because of bleeding or bruising in the brain. Temporary or permanent disability could be a result of TBI. Many factors figure into an individual's prognosis, including the person's age and fitness, along with the location and extent of the brain injury.

Personality and behavioral changes may plague the injured person for a lifetime. A previously even-tempered individual could become aggressive and anxious, and depression is not uncommon.

Coping with TBI

Ohio residents and others are becoming aware that TBI is a serious condition that can be caused by repeated minor head injuries like those athletes experience, or by a single incident. When the symptoms of TBI continue to affect a person, it may be necessary to obtain rehabilitative treatment involving physical, speech and occupational therapy. To deal with personality and mental issues, psychotherapy and counseling may be appropriate.

While recovering from TBI it is important to obtain all the support that is available. If the effects prevent the individual from working, either temporarily or permanently, a TBI sufferer should apply for Social Security disability benefits. An attorney who works in this area of the law can advise TBI patients and their families about effective strategies to obtain the benefits that people with this disability need.