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Brain Injury – An Overview

Brain Injury – An Overview

Brain injury x raysWith offices in Miami and across Florida, the law firm of Bernstein & Maryanoff has the resources and experience to take on the most complex brain injury cases. The firm’s attorneys and staff are dedicated to helping each client pursue the maximum compensation for their losses.

Depending on the severity and location of the injury, the effects of a brain injury can range from a minor annoyance to very serious and life-threatening. The study and diagnosis of head injuries is very complex. There may be overt signs of the injury such as loss of speech and motor skills, or there may only be more subtle personality changes. If you or a loved one have suffered a brain injury you should contact a lawyer with experience representing clients in brain injury-related legal claims to discuss your options.

The Brain and its Functions

The brain is the control center of the human body. It can be described as a bundle of gelatinous nervous system material floating in a protective sea of cerebrospinal fluid. The fluid acts as a shock absorber that dampens movement of the brain when a person is jolted. All of this fluid is encased inside of the human skull, which acts as a protective shell. The outside of the skull is smooth, but the inside is rough and boney. It is these rough, boney structures inside the skull that can injure the brain when a person is struck or jolted.

The brain is a sensory processor. This means that the brain controls thought, smell, sight, memory, and touch. In addition, the brain controls vital bodily functions such as walking, talking, breathing, and heart rate.

The brain is divided into three main parts:

  • The cerebrum is the largest section of the brain. Different parts of the cerebrum are related to the control of cognitive abilities, memory, motor function, learning and speech.
  • The cerebellum is a part of the hindbrain. It coordinates voluntary and involuntary muscle movements.
  • The brain stem is the lower extension of the brain. It acts as a relay station between incoming stimulus and the rest of the brain.

The Causes of Brain Injuries

Brain injuries can generally be divided by their cause. There are injuries caused by contact, and those that are not caused by contact.

Contact Injuries

A contact traumatic brain injury causes damage to the brain as a result of an external force to the head. A contact traumatic brain injury can result in a closed head injury, brain swelling, bruising of the brain tissue, or nerve tearing.

Traumatic brain injuries may be caused by:

  • Sports injuries
  • Work-related injuries
  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Car accidents, or
  • Violence
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Non-contact Injuries

Contact is not necessary to cause a brain injury. Parts of the brain may be injured as a result of medical emergencies such as stroke (sometimes referred to as cerebrovascular accident, or CVS) or heart attack. Stroke and heart attack may affect the brain’s blood and oxygen supply, causing localized or even widespread brain damage. In addition, the brain may be injured as a result of a near-drowning, suffocation, or heart-stopping electrical shock. Again, the brain may be injured as a result of a lack of blood and oxygen supply.

The Effects of a Head Injury

Man with head injuryThe effects of a brain injury largely depend on the severity of the injury, and the location of the affected part of the brain. All head injuries have the potential to be serious.

A concussion is the common result of a blow to the head or a sudden deceleration. It results from a jarring of the brain. A concussion is graded according to its severity; depending on the loss of consciousness, amnesia and loss of equilibrium. A concussion often results in a period of altered consciousness during which the person is dazed or disoriented.

A severe head injury may also cause a coma. Coma is defined as a state of unconsciousness from which the patient cannot be awakened or aroused, even by powerful stimulation.

Amnesia is generally defined as the loss of memory, or a period of forgetfulness. Anterograde amnesia is defined as the inability to remember events beginning with the onset of the injury. Retrograde amnesia is defined as the loss of memory regarding events preceding the injury.

Effects of Severe Brain Damage

When a brain injury is very severe it can dramatically affect the person’s ability to return to a normal life. Depending on the location and severity of the injury there may be physical and/or behavioral effects. A severe head injury can affect a person’s ability to work, learn, and interact with their family.

The following are possible physical effects:

  • Difficulty with mobility and coordination
  • Difficulty talking and communicating
  • Severe headaches
  • Difficulty with, or loss of, sensation

The following are possible behavioral effects:

  • Personality changes
  • Depression
  • Short attention span
  • Learning difficulty
  • Memory difficulty

Proving and Treating a Brain Injury

A permanent brain injury may be difficult to recognize and prove. Many of the associated changes in a person’s behavior or personality can be very subtle. The earlier a brain injury is diagnosed, the earlier a person can begin a treatment program.

The following are diagnostic tools used to determine the extent and nature of a brain injury.

  • MRI
  • CT Scan
  • PET Scan
  • EEG
  • Psychological and functional tests

Treatment and therapy will greatly depend on the extent and nature of the injury. For example, a person may need physical and occupational rehabilitation to condition muscles and relearn life-skills. Generally, the earlier treatment begins the better.


Brain injuries can be devastating for both the person injured and their family. Therapy, medical treatments and supplies can be very expensive. A legal claim may help you secure financial assistance from the party responsible for the injury. If you or a loved one have suffered a brain injury you should contact a lawyer who is experienced in handling brain injury related legal claims to discuss your options.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.