The March calendar means basketball to some and springtime for others. However, March also marks Brain Injury Awareness Month. As this month draws to a close, I am focusing on this serious injury that deserves, from a broad perspective, increased national and state awareness. An estimated 10,000 Alabamians sustain a brain injury each year.
From a personal standpoint, head injuries need greater attention within immediate families of sufferers. Family involvement is critical. Why? The injured person may not even be aware of outward symptoms and changes resulting from an accident such as a car crash, workplace accident or fall. While many brain injury symptoms like dizziness, unconsciousness, nausea, headache and vision changes may be immediately apparent, other symptoms are not. As time passes, some symptoms become more evident—especially to family and close friends. These symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering new information
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Acting irritable/grumpy
- Exhibiting nervousness or anxiety
- Displaying sensitivity to light or loud noise
- Feeling sadness
- Acting emotional
- Difficulty communicating
In my law practice, the uninjured spouse often notices the changes and pushes for medical treatment. So, I always interview spouses and close family members for key information.
Another issue resulting from these injuries is the inability to perform everyday tasks at home or in the workplace. Memory problems. Decision making difficulties. Emotional issues at work. Inability to focus or concentrate on tasks. These problems are often compounded by mounting medical bills from the injury. Many men are reluctant to recognize and admit the severity of these issues and the hindrance they place on their ability to provide for their families. Yet, when these symptoms go unchecked and untreated, health can deteriorate. I always first advise my clients to seek good medical help from a physician with the training and understanding to help with brain injuries.
Finally, with family support and medical care in place, I encourage anyone facing a traumatic brain injury to take the time to find a lawyer with the appropriate background and experience to handle these difficult cases. Testing for traumatic brain injury involves complicated neuropsychological assessment. Lawyers who do not understand the complex problems suffered by people with brain injuries and who are unfamiliar with the testing fail to present fully the client’s story at trial. The good news is Alabama has many medical professionals dedicated to researching brain injuries and rehabilitating those who suffer from them.