March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and researchers are happy to report that a new test has been created that offers a better, safer and faster way of diagnosing brain injuries. According to a Reuters article earlier this month, Swedish researchers revealed that a simple blood test administered as early as one hour after an incident can diagnose how serious a brain injury is. By testing athletes who suffered sports-related head injuries, they claim that the new test can show:
- The seriousness of the brain injury
- The risk of long-term symptoms
- When the athlete can return to the game
Athletes in contact sports are especially susceptible to repeated brain injuries - also referred to as concussions. Many people recognize that professional athletes - such as boxers and hockey and football players - incur repeated blows to the head that may lead to brain injuries. Unfortunately, sport-related incidents are only one of many causes of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and many people do not realize they sustained a brain injury in the first place.
Brain injuries are quite common
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.5 million people sustain TBIs in the U.S. each year. About 50,000 people die and another 85,000 suffer from long-term disabilities after an injury.
A recent NBC Bay Area report revealed that California ski resorts are underreporting serious injuries incurred on the slopes. Nearly 800 patients received treatment for TBIs in California each year while the National Ski Areas Association reports less than 50 serious injuries on an annual basis, which includes paralysis, broken necks or backs and TBIs.
There are various types of brain injuries just as there are varying degrees of injuries. While some TBIs can be caused by a tumor or exposure to toxic chemicals, any type of blow to the head or serious injury to another part of a person's body can cause a TBI. Some of the top causes of TBIs include the following:
- Car accidents: Even minor accidents can cause serious brain injuries not immediately evident to the victim, first responders or the victim's family and friends. An accident victim does not need to hit his or her head against a vehicle or stationary object to sustain a TBI. Any quick acceleration or deceleration of one's head - like a whiplash injury - can cause serious harm.
- Explosions: Any type of repercussive or explosive blast can create a pressure wave to resonate through the brain, causing substantial injury.
- Falls: A simple slip and fall accident can easily lead to a TBI. Whether or not the person hits his or her head during the fall, the quick movement can cause neck, back or brain injuries.
- Medical mistakes: During a medical procedure such as a surgery, a patient may suffer from a lack of oxygen due to a mistake by medical staff or a defective medical device. Restricted blood flow during a surgical procedure or infection following treatment can also cause a TBI.
Help for the injured
It is hoped that the newly devised blood test can help not only athletes but victims of other types of accidents as well. If you or a loved one suffers a brain injury due to another's mistake or negligence, consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney knowledgeable about brain injury lawsuits can help you and your family obtain compensation to which you are entitled.