The human brain is one of the most complex systems of any living creature. There is a reason people can solve problems and overcome challenges in spite of the limitations of our physiological design.
Pound for pound, humans have some of the largest brains of any animal on earth, and the way we have developed, our minds are hungry for information and excel at processing it. We are masters of language and problem-solving. The squishy grey matter that figures out how to drive a vehicle weighing several thousand pounds through traffic every day is the same that allowed people to walk on the moon just 60 years or so after figuring out how to make airplanes. So when it comes to the acceleration and deceleration brain learn from the experienced California brain injury attorney at Gomez Trial Attorneys.
A Powerful Yet Vulnerable System
The human brain is a marvel of nature, but it is still a very vulnerable part of our bodies. It is highly susceptible to injury due to basic physics. Unlike the brain of a bighorn sheep, it has not evolved to handle hard impacts without damage. Sir Isaac Newton expressed three laws of physics, and unfortunately, our brains are vulnerable to all of them. An object in motion will remain in motion until an unbalanced force acts upon it. The brain is made of a soft material, composed mostly of fats and proteins. Layers of skin, bone, and tissue protect it from the elements and to some degree blunt force impacts.
Unfortunately, impacts can often bypass that protection, because the force directed towards a human head has to go somewhere. That soft tissue inside the skull is very susceptible to absorbing the force of an impact. From the beginning, violence was a way that blunt force was introduced to the head and brain. Fists, clubs, and later on explosions began to significantly damage the brain. Later on, our desire to go higher and faster and use machines to help us do just that enabled us to build taller buildings and faster vehicles, and all of these things have exceeded our biological capacity to adapt to them.
The laws of physics apply, and our fragile bodies are often at the mercy of these laws. The result is serious injury.
How Sudden Acceleration and Deceleration Injures the Brain
An acceleration and deceleration brain injury is a common type of traumatic brain injury that results from the body’s inability to withstand force. The most frequent source of this force is blunt force trauma. This happens when a body in motion, namely your head, is abruptly stopped. Inside your head, your brain must absorb the force of the impact, and like a spring on a vehicle absorbing the shock of the road, your brain will continue to oscillate, expending that force until it reaches equilibrium again.
Something must absorb that energy somehow, and that is usually when something inside the brain gives way. This initial trauma often damages the soft tissue of the brain and causes secondary injuries that result from hemorrhaging, tearing, insults to the axons, and shearing of blood vessels. All of these can wreak havoc on your brain.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Many different things can result in a traumatic brain injury. The laws of physics are at play regardless of the activity, so there are many different ways to sustain an injury from an acceleration and deceleration brain injury.
Violence: Physical attacks, such as strikes from a weapon or even bare hands, can cause an injury of this type.
Sports: In recent studies, traumatic brain injuries are common in nearly all contact sports, including gymnastics and other sports in which sudden stops are common. Even personal sports that don’t receive as much attention as full-contact sports are susceptible.
Some of the most common TBIs that result from sports injuries include:
- Rock climbing
Car impacts: Car accidents are one of the most common ways in which people are injured with acceleration/deceleration brain injuries. As mentioned before, traveling at speed, and then suddenly being stopped due to an impact, transfers a lot of force into the brain.
Military: Concussive force from explosions, violence, or other impacts are all too common for members of our armed forces.
Workplace injuries: Impacts and blunt force trauma from workplace accidents are preventable; however, they do happen and are unfortunately commonplace.
Falls and impact: Even a simple slip and fall can result in you landing on your head or neck and directing a lot of force into your brain.
Shaken baby syndrome: Because of infants’ small size and brain development, their brains are especially susceptible to this kind of force. This is why people are warned to never shake a baby. Doing so can result in severe brain injury and even death.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
A skull fracture occurs when localized trauma actually breaks the bone of the skull; it may or may not penetrate into the brain, as the brain is protected by a layer of tissue known as the dura mater. This strong tissue acts as a barrier to traumatic impacts as well as to pathogens and other infections. Head injuries can often result in lacerations of the scalp, which may bleed profusely but do not necessarily affect the brain.
Traumatic brain injuries may take place at a level deeper, and many signs can indicate if the force has actually damaged the brain itself. Blood or spinal fluid leaking from the ears or the nose are often a sign of a breached dural layer.
Concussions are the most common TBIs, and can result from an acceleration and deceleration brain injury due to car accidents, falls, and sports injuries.
If the following present themselves after an accident, you should seek immediate medical attention for a possible traumatic brain injury.
- Loss of consciousness
- Bruising around eyes or ears
- Loss of consciousness
- Bleeding or clear fluid from nose or ears
Different Types of TBIs Related to Acceleration/Deceleration Brain Injuries
Epidural hematoma is an injury related to damage to the arteries on the outside of that dura mater layer, just beneath the skull. It often involves bleeding and swelling, which is a result of blood pooling between the brain and the dural layer. This injury can be indicated by a loss of consciousness, headache, bleeding, and even pupil dilation.
Subdural hematoma is another layer down, which involves the shearing of veins beneath the dural layer, which go deeper into the brain. This pooling of blood is essentially bruising within the brain. Symptoms of brain injuries are much slower to present themselves, usually being evident within the first 48 hours of trauma. Indications of this type of injury are problems with maintaining consciousness that didn’t exist before, headaches, and even seizures. These symptoms are slower to develop, but more serious if left unchecked.
Intracerebral hemorrhage is what happens when there is bleeding inside the actual brain tissue; your doctor might have called it intra axial. There are significant progressions of loss of consciousness, headache, and what is called intracranial pressure. Essentially, what is happening is blood is filling up the inside of the brain, causing pressure, and breaking down tissue that is vital to the brain’s function.
You might have heard these terms from your doctor, so you probably have some familiarity with them. They are all important in their own right, so it helps to understand their significance in the bigger picture. A lot of damage has been done and recovery is not going to be fast or easy. Unfortunately, the damage can continue.
Axonal Injuries – An axon is part of the nerve cell body, long nerve fibers that connect brain areas to each other – called white matter. Due to acceleration/decelleration forces there can be a tearing of the brain’s long connecting nerve fibers (axons) that happens when the brain is injured as it shifts and rotates inside the bony skull. Axonal injuries can be focal – in one area, or diffuse (diffuse axonal injury – DAI) – to many different parts of the brain.
Secondary brain injuries can result in continued damage to the brain due to all the blood loss, pressure, and changes in the chemistry of the brain itself, including:
- Additional cell injury
- Necrosis (cellular death)
- Loss of oxygen levels in the blood
- Change in body chemistry that is harmful to the brain
- Increased intracranial pressures
Only a medical professional can diagnose the type of TBI that has occurred. Sometimes, due to the severity of a trauma, more than one of these might come into play—all from simple acceleration/deceleration.
Imaging tests may determine if you have suffered a bleed, and if so, the method of treatment—whether surgery or other invasive procedures.
Perhaps the most compelling argument for seeking legal advice is to get the expertise of someone who not only has familiarity with these types of injuries, but also knows the best way to apply resources, such as medical specialists and experts in the field to deliver your case in the most compelling way.
The Long Road to Recovery
You may experience some lasting effects from a TBI. Acceleration and deceleration injuries may vary from moderate to severe.
In any case, you need to prepare for the possibility of some serious life changes in both the short and long-term.
- Memory loss
- Changes or loss of cognitive response
- Chronic pain
- Difficulty in using fine motor skills
- Changes in personality
- Changes in speech
- Chronic headaches
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Loss or change in senses
- Having to relearn normal functions
- Permanent brain damage
- Decreased quality of life
- Permanent disability
You Need an Attorney
As researchers study injuries pertaining to the brain more and more, from the field of sports medicine to the effects of concussive impacts from working in a hostile environment—such as being a soldier or first responder—we are learning how to recognize and treat traumatic brain injuries better every day. These treatments are often cost-prohibitive, and the long-term effects of a brain stem injury often impact a person’s ability to enjoy a happy, productive life.
The victim of a traumatic brain injury may no longer enjoy the same quality of life as before, but even so, he or she has rights. If you’ve suffered a brain injury, you deserve compensation for the full cost of your injuries. This is not a battle you should ever fight by yourself. Dealing with the physical and emotional consequences of a traumatic brain injury is enough to contend with; don’t take on the stress of the legal battle as well. This is the time to hire a professional who will fight zealously to protect your rights and maximize your compensation.
Navigating the legal system is complicated, and without proper representation, you are often at the mercy of unfeeling insurance companies who only care about their profits, perpetrators who should be held accountable for their actions, or others whose negligence has put you in this position in the first place. Whether it is a simple slip and fall case, which resulted in a lifetime of disability and dealing with a traumatic brain injury, or an automobile accident from which you are still recovering, you need to protect your rights.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of an accident, trauma, or condition that has resulted in an acceleration/deceleration injury, you should consider retaining an attorney to handle your case.