As a personal injury lawyer, some of the most heroic clients I have ever represented have been people who have suffered brain injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). It is hard to convey how hard these clients had worked to re-learn ordinary tasks like walking, reading, talking, and remembering. One client, who had loved to read, wound up with not just double, but quadruple vision after his traumatic brain injury. I still marvel when I think about it, but somehow he figured out how to read again by staring at the center of the page and then rotating his eyes in a circle.
My TBI clients have spent countless hours working crossword puzzles and playing memory games to try to regain their skills. They carry notebooks and devise systems that will help them remember to do the routine tasks most people remember effortlessly.
Some of my clients were left in a coma-like state, unable to move, speak, or even blink voluntarily. A number of them were probably suffering from “locked-in syndrome” – meaning they could hear and perhaps even see what was going on around them, but they could not communicate in any way. One especially precious client could not speak or communicate in any way, or even blink – but tears rolled down her face every time her very young children came in the room.
Many people are surprised to learn that a brain injury can change a person’s personality. A person with a brain injury may become aggressive or angry; on the other hand, the person may become more passive. Either way, all of the person’s relationships are affected.
Which brings me to another group of courageous folks – the families of people with brain injuries. I have seen a husband polishing the nails of a wife who could not speak or move in any way – “because,” he told me shyly, “she always just had to have her fingernails done!” I have seen a father put aside his dream of opening his own business in order to help a son – who had become angry and aggressive – learn to live with an irreversible and serious brain injury. Outsiders see that one person has been injured, but the truth is that the whole family has been injured – and the whole family is responsible for the triumphs, both large and small.
So to all of these people — I salute you, and I dedicate this section of resources to you.
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HEAD INJURY FACTS
A brain injury can occur when the brain is deprived of oxygen, as sometimes occurs in a birth or a respiratory arrest.
The brain also can suffer a traumatic injury, which means sudden, physical damage. The brain can suffer a traumatic brain injury, often called TBI, even when there are no signs on the outside of the head. The brain is relatively soft, and it can be damaged when the head suddenly accelerates or decelerates, or rotates or twists.
Motor vehicle crashes account for about 20% of all brain injuries that require at least a trip to the hospital. 35% of serious traumatic brain injuries occur in falls. 10% of all serious TBI occur as a result of assaults.
Each year some 1.7 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury. CDC’s Report, Traumatic Brain Injuries in the United States. Medical costs and indirect costs of traumatic brain injury cost our nation $ 60 billion a year.
TBI BRAIN INJURY LINKS
Use these links to learn more about head injuries.
THE TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY MODEL SYSTEMS
UAB TBI Model System
University of Alabama/Birmingham
Northern California Traumatic Brain Injury Model System of Care
Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC), San Jose, CA
The Rocky Mountain Regional Brain Injury System (RMRBIS)
Craig Hospital, Englewood, CO
Midwest Regional Traumatic Brain Injury Model System
Rehabilitation Institute Research Corporation, Chicago, IL
Michigan Traumatic Brain Injury Model System (SEMTBIS)
Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Mayo Clinic Traumatic Brain Injury Model System
Northern New Jersey Traumatic Brain Injury System (NNJTBIS)
Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, West Orange, NJ
JFK-Johnson Rehabilitation Institute TBI Model System
JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, Edison, NJ
New York Traumatic Brain Injury Model System (NYTBIMS)
Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY
Carolinas Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation and Research System (CTBIRRS)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, Charlotte, NC
Ohio Regional TBI Model System
Ohio Valley Center for Brain Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation, Columbus, OH
The Moss Traumatic Brain Injury Model System
Albert Einstein Healthcare Network, Philadelphia, PA
North Texas Traumatic Brain Injury Model System (NT-TBIMS)
The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation
Baylor Health Care System, Dallas, TX
The Texas TBI Model System of TIRR
TIRR Memorial Hermann, Houston, TX
Virginia Commonwealth Traumatic Brain Injury Model System
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
University of Washington Traumatic Brain Injury Model System
University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
OTHER HELPFUL TBI BRAIN INJURY WEBSITES
NINDS Traumatic Brain Injury Information Page
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Traumatic Brain Injury Survival Guide
Dr. Glen Johnson, Traverse City, Michigan