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Symptoms and Consequences of a Brain Injury

Concussion Law Help, Chicago Brain Injury Attorney > Symptoms and Consequences of a Brain Injury

Anyone who has suffered any kind of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), even a single concussion, has a chance of facing long-term or permanent complications.  These complications include symptoms such as headaches, neck pain, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, dizziness, and many more.  Anyone suffering from these symptoms after a head injury may be entitled to compensation.  Anyone who has several of these symptoms present three months after their injury may be suffering from Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS).  The longer you or your loved one is forced to live with the consequences of a head injury, the more compensation you may be entitled to.

 

People who have suffered multiple blows to the head may also be at risk for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).  This condition has been prominent in the news recently, with the NFL agreeing to a settlement worth approximately $1 billion with former players for its role in exposing players to CTE and not doing enough to protect their brains from trauma.  This controversy was the subject of the 2015 film, Concussion.  CTE is discussed more fully below.

 

Post-Concussion Syndrome

Concussion symptoms generally resolve within one to three months after the concussion.  Head injury victims who are still suffering from concussion symptoms at the three-month mark may have PCS.  The constellation of symptoms that make up PCS are similar to initial concussion symptoms, including:

  • Headache;
  • Fatigue;
  • Anxiety;
  • Trouble concentrating;
  • Dizziness;
  • Visual disturbances;
  • Double vision;
  • Sensitivity to light and sound;
  • Sleep disturbances;
  • Irritability; and
  • Depression.

 

One strange feature of PCS is that the symptoms can change over time.  Brain injury sufferers may have some of the above symptoms in the first weeks or months after their injury, only to have those symptoms get better while other symptoms arise.  For example, we had a client whose headaches diminished slightly over the first few months after his concussion, but he developed a hypersensitivity to light and sound by the third month.

 

The impact of PCS on a concussion victim’s life can be life-changing, and not for the better.  One PCS patient described his post-injury brain like a broken computer, with the files no longer properly indexed.  Others complained that they are constantly mentally fatigued, and are unable to work full days anymore.  Another had maybe the most gut-wrenching description of all, saying he doesn’t consider his issues to be “symptoms” anymore, but a part of who he is.

 

MRI and CT scans cannot show any evidence of brain damage for most people suffering from PCS.  As a result, PCS is somewhat mysterious to doctors.  Many physicians and experts believe that there is no real brain damage, with the symptoms being “all in your head.”  Other experts vehemently disagree, and are certain that there is physiological brain damage that modern imaging isn’t effective enough to find.  Whichever the case may be, the symptoms are largely treatable, and they may entitle victims to compensation under the law.

 

Though it is difficult to identify the root cause of PCS, the symptoms can be managed and sometimes completely eliminated by specialists.  Headaches and migraines can be treated with trigger point and botox injections.  Focus, anxiety, sleep, and depression issues can be treated through therapy and medications.  Visual disturbances and dizziness can be treated with special glasses.  In fact, new brain plasticity research suggests that the brain can learn to completely overcome PCS symptoms altogether.  Our attorneys and staff are extremely knowledgeable about PCS.  We keep in touch with a number of experts on the subject, and keep up to date on the latest brain injury and PCS research.  If you are experiencing these symptoms after a head injury, call us or email us to schedule an appointment.

 

Binocular Vision Disorders

Suffering a TBI can sometimes cause people to develop a Binocular Vision Disorder (BVD).  BVDs, most notably heterophoria, are a set of disorders that are diagnosed when a person’s eyes no longer function in perfect alignment.  Sometimes this will cause double vision, also known as diplopia.  However, just because head injury patients do not suffer from diplopia does not mean they have not developed a BVD.  Even when there is not noticeable double vision, the brain needs to work much harder to compensate for eyes’ failure to properly align with one another.  This can lead to a whole host of additional problems, including:

  • Headache;
  • Neck pain;
  • Eye pain/fatigue;
  • Dizziness;
  • Difficulty reading;
  • Light sensitivity;
  • Nausea; and
  • Anxiety.

 

There are promising treatments for BVDs that can be found in the developing field of Neurovisual Optometry.  In addition to providing legal representation to help people seek compensation for their injuries, David A. Axelrod & Associates has a relationship with one of the foremost experts on Neurovisual Optometry, who can help provide treatment for these complex and frustrating conditions.  Neurovisual Optometry uses a technology known as prism glasses, which refract the light as it reaches the eyes to compensate for the different angles in which a BVD sufferer’s eyes are pointing.

 

Prism glasses were recently a topic in the news, when it was revealed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used them following her concussion in 2012.  One of our clients also used prism glasses to treat his BVD.  Before he began using them, he suffered from severe neck pain and constant headaches.  An optometrist determined that he had BVD, which contributed to his headaches because his brain was constantly working to align the mismatched views from his eyes, and to his neck pain because he was unconsciously holding his head at an odd angle to help see better.  Prism glasses did not completely cure these issues, but they helped him tremendously.  At trial, we were able to get a substantial verdict for this client, in part because of his BVD that was caused by his brain injury.

 

CTE

CTE is believed to be caused by repeated trauma to the head.  So far it can only be diagnosed conclusively by autopsy.  However, there are a number of symptoms that are often present in people who are later diagnosed with CTE.  These symptoms include:

  • Difficulty thinking;
  • Apathy;
  • Short-term memory loss;
  • Difficulty planning and carrying out tasks;
  • Impulsive behavior;
  • Depression;
  • Emotional instability;
  • Substance abuse;
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior;
  • Irritability;
  • Trouble swallowing;
  • Vision and focusing problems;
  • Aggression;
  • Speech and language difficulties;
  • Motor impairment, such as difficulty walking, tremor, loss of muscle movement, weakness or rigidity; and
  • Dementia.

 

Even though CTE cannot be diagnosed, its symptoms can be managed with proactive medical treatment.  Plaintiffs also may be entitled to compensation for your pain, regardless of how difficult it is to diagnose CTE.  If you are experiencing the symptoms described above, you should contact us to get started on your case.