Phoenix Diffuse Axonal Injury Lawyer
Nothing is more confusing, frustrating, or terrifying then hearing a doctor say that your loved one has a diffuse axonal brain injury. First you will spend your time wondering what this means. No matter how many times the doctor explains the injury, you may not quickly understand what it means, how it really happened, or what the future will be like for your loved one and for you.
Diffuse axonal brain injuries present a significant risk to your loved one, their health and wellbeing, and to their future. This in turn presents a significant risk to you and your future. It is important for you to learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from these types of injuries, and know what to do in the event an accident happened to you and yours.
What is a Diffuse Axonal Brain Injury?
Although it may sound exotic and strange, diffuse axonal brain injuries are one of the most common types of brain injuries. In addition to being one of the most common injuries, these types of brain injuries are also one of the most severe. When you think of a brain injury, you may think of a concussion, or other acute brain injuries, or injuries that occur in one area of the brain.
A diffuse injury is much more dangerous because it affects the brain over a widespread area. Diffuse axonal brain injuries are characterized by lesions and bruises across the white matter tracts in the brain. A diffuse axonal brain injury refers to a brain injury that happens inside the skull where the brain bounces around or back and forth. Unlike other types of injuries, diffuse axonal brain injuries can be difficult to diagnose because there is rarely a visible head injury to go with it.
How Do Diffuse Axonal Brain Injuries Happen?
There are many different ways that a diffuse axonal brain injury can happen. One of the most common ways that these injuries are sustained are in serious car accidents that cause the torso and head of the victim to be thrashed back and forth with severe force. Although less common, explosions can also cause these types of injuries. Nearly as common as brain injuries caused by car accidents are those that are caused by falls, like falling down stairs, or slipping and falling on ice, and even falling at the grocery store. Abuse, such as Shaken Baby Syndrome and being thrown against a wall can also cause diffuse axonal brain injuries. Sports related injuries from football, baseball, basketball, and lacrosse are very common that may include diffuse axonal brain injuries.
These brain injuries happen because the force of a blow to the head or shifting of the brain in the skull through rapid movement causes bodily functions and brain signals to be completely disrupted and thrown out of balance. As a result, the cells of the brain ultimately die as the brain matter swells. This can lead to serious permanent disability, critical symptoms, and even death.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Diffuse Axonal Brain Injuries
In many cases, you may not even realize that a diffuse axonal brain injury is a possibility until the symptoms get bad enough that you take your loved one to the doctor for help.
The most visible symptoms of diffuse axonal brain injuries are those that are most troublesome and difficult to treat: coma and a persistent vegetative state. However, these occur in very serious cases and are not the only symptoms of diffuse axonal brain injuries. These types of injuries may range in severity from very mild to very severe to deadly. Some people who suffer a diffuse axonal brain injury may lose consciousness for up to six hours without falling into a coma. Very mild diffuse axonal brain injuries may be indicated by other symptoms of brain injuries like migraine headaches, numbness in odd places in the body, vomiting, serious fatigue, difficulty speaking or swallowing, behavioral changes, and trouble with thinking, remembering, or motor skills. The prognosis for diffuse axonal brain injuries is often grim.
Diagnosis of diffuse axonal brain injuries can be difficult, especially in cases where loss of consciousness and coma are not present. This is because swelling of the brain over a large region, which is always present in the case of diffuse axonal injuries, may not always show up on a CT scan. Close observation of symptoms suffered by those who've experienced a head injury can help doctors and family members know when to suspect a diffuse axonal injury. MRI scans are considered more useful in diagnosing a diffuse axonal injury, but can still miss an injury.
Prognosis for Diffuse Axonal Brain Injuries
Diffuse axonal brain injuries are often characterized as extremely dangerous and deadly. Nearly 90 percent of those people who suffer a serious diffuse axonal brain injury enter a coma and are never able to recover. Many die as a result of the damage that occurs to their brain as a result of a diffuse axonal brain injury. For those who sustain these injuries and do not die or fall into a persistent vegetative state, permanent damage to their lifestyle, bodily functions, and ability to function as a normal person may be compromised for the rest of their lives. Those who do fall into a coma and then come out of the coma at a later time, accounting for roughly 10 percent of victims, are often severely impaired and will never work again, or lead a normal life. These types of prognoses impact not only the victim, but also their families, who must deal with either the death of their loved one, or finding ways to care for them over the long term in a new, incapacitated state.
Recovery Time for Diffuse Axonal Brain Injuries
The recovery rate time for diffuse axonal brain injuries depends upon the severity of the injury that was sustained by the victim at the time of the accident. The time it takes to discover the injury and start the treatment process can also play a major role in the recovery process. For those victims who sustain concussions, recovery may take only a few weeks to a few months, although every person is different. For those who suffer permanent brain damage and loss of motor functions or cognitive abilities, recovery is almost always impossible, and they will need constant care for the rest of their lives.
Treatment Options for Diffuse Axonal Brain Injuries
New and multiple treatments are being discussed for victims of diffuse axonal brain injuries all the time. There are many different types of treatments that can be used and all possible options should be explored with your loved one's doctor so that they can help you determine which treatments are safe and which have the best chance of helping your loved one recover. Some of the most common treatments used for diffuse axonal brain injuries today include:
- Polyethylene glycol to reduce the risk of calcium flux and cytotoxic edema.
- Reduction of swelling and inflammation in the brain, with steroid medications or other medications meant to reduce swelling and inflammation caused by injury and illness.
Despite the many different treatments that your loved one may receive for their diffuse axonal brain injury, there is no specific treatment for this type of injury at this time. This means that the doctors will be using methods of treatment for other types of brain injuries in an effort to reduce intracranial pressure and swelling and to help your loved one wake from their coma or regain some motor functions.
Although, in some brain injury cases, surgery is an option for reducing swelling around the brain, this is not an option for those victims who have suffered a diffuse axonal brain injury because of the widespread nature of the injury.
For Victims Who Wake Up After a Diffuse Axonal Brain Injury
Some victims, though not many, will wake up after a coma induced by a diffuse axonal brain injury. For those victims, the recovery process is long. Even those victims who do not fall out of consciousness will require extensive therapy to ensure that their brains heal properly and they are able to function on their own. Some of the most common treatment methods for those who have sustained injuries to the brain but not fallen into a coma or who have woken up from a coma include:
- Counseling to help them work through the frustration and emotional trauma.
- Anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling medications to keep the brain in good condition.
- Therapy, including speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and recreational therapy.
- Adaptive equipment training to help them learn how to use modifications for basic daily living, including driving a car and using a coffee maker.
For those who suffer only a mild diffuse axonal brain injury, like a serious concussion, treatment may include medications, significant amounts of rest and regular monitoring by a medical practitioner until such time as the doctor can attest the wound on the brain has completely healed.
Know How to Protect Yourself From a Diffuse Axonal Brain Injury
Although you may not always be able to predict or prevent a diffuse axonal brain injury, it is important to understand the steps that you can take to help protect yourself in every situation where a head injury or other serious injuries are a possibility.
When you are engaged in any type of activity, it is important to know how to keep yourself safe. When at the grocery store, it is important to watch for spills, cords, and other hazards on the floor to reduce your chances of slipping and falling. The same is true while walking through any other type of establishment, at work, at home, and outside, where water, ice and other hazards may cause serious trip or slip and fall injuries, including head injuries and diffuse axonal brain injuries.
During vehicle travel, remembering to follow the rules of road and taking into account all of the different types of safety measures and devices that are at your disposal.
When it comes to sports, safety gear is incredibly important. A helmet may help you to avoid all types of head injuries, but especially serious traumatic brain injuries, including diffuse axonal brain injuries. If you take all of the necessary steps to protect yourself and are injured due to the negligence of another person, you may need additional help.
Getting Help After Your Diffuse Axonal Brain Injury
If someone you love has sustained a diffuse axonal brain injury, you may need help in order to help them through recovery. The Phoenix brain injury attorneys at the Breyer Law Offices, P.C. can provide you with the support and information you need to understand your legal rights and options. After many years of handling negligence cases that have led to injury and death, attorneys Mark and Alexis Breyer have seen how difficult it can be for families to handle the loss or incapacitation of a loved one. They know that the healing process for brain injuries can take months, or even years, if recovery is possible at all, and they know that emotional, mental, physical, and financial costs of that recovery can weigh your family down for even longer. To find out if legal action can help you and your family during this difficult time, call us at (602) 267-1280 for a free consultation today.