A Mild Brain Injury is the hardest brain injury to diagnose. A physical examination may not show any signs of a brain injury. There may be no changes found on an EEG, MRI or CAT scan. The most telling symptoms of a MBI are the emotional and behavioral changes that a person undergoes.
A minor accident may cause a Mild Brain Injury. Typically a period of unconsciousness is part of a MBI. Not all Mild Brain Injuries are marked by a loss of consciousness, though. A loss of memory for events before or after the accident may be part of a MBI. There may be a change in a person’s mental state as well. There may be an initial diagnosis of a concussion graded on a scale of 1 to 3.
For most people there are no long term effects from a Mild Brain Injury. Four months seems to be the average recovery time. There are a small number of people that continue to suffer lasting effects of a MBI though. There are certain factors that may increase the risk of having long term effects. A person that is over the age of 40, someone that has an existing systemic disease, and women may be more at risk.
There are many symptoms of a concussion. Early symptoms of a concussion include nausea, dizziness, headache, and vomiting. As a concussion progresses there may be some later symptoms. They include a persistent headache, an inability to concentrate, a feeling of lightheadedness, becoming tired easily, sensitivity to bright light and loud noise, depression and/or anxiety, ringing in the ears, and irritability. Symptoms can vary from person to person and may mimic the symptoms of other diseases and injuries.
KEY STRATEGY – It is always important to visit a doctor or emergency room if you have been in an accident and believe that you may have suffered a head or brain injury.
Role of the Neuropsychologist
Due to the difficult nature of diagnosing a Mild Brain Injury it is important to seek the advice and expertise of a Neuropsychologist. A Neuropsychologist is a clinical psychologist that specializes in brain behavior relationships. They will perform tests on the person to test their intellectual ability and personality. They will research a person’s academic and work record to see what kind of student and employee they were before the accident. They will also interview family members and friends to determine what their personality was like before the accident.
The Neuropsychologist will then look at the person’s performance at work and/or school since the accident to determine if there has been a change. Sometimes a Mild Brain Injury will aggravate a preexisting behavior problem. This is important for them to discover as it may be important if there is a party liable to the initial injury.
It is the role of the Neuropsychologist to determine the extent of the damage. The Neuropsychologist will need to consult with a medical doctor in deciding the final diagnosis of the patient. A general practitioner may be able to help with diagnosis and sometimes the opinion of a Neurologist may be necessary.
KEY STRATEGY – It is important to be honest with the Neuropsychologist about the patient’s personality before and after the accident in order for them to come to an accurate diagnosis.
Causes of Mild Brain Injury
There does not have to be a physical blow or hit to the head for a Mild Brain Injury to occur. There are many different causes of a MBI.
A Mild Brain Injury most often occurs after a car accident, even for people that were wearing a seat belt and were properly restrained. Whiplash is always possible in a car accident and that can cause the brain to move within the skull causing an injury.
An injury may be caused by prescription medication. A greater danger is from a prescription that has been mis-filled. A Mild Brain Injury may be caused by a medication that may cause bleeding on the brain or a lack of oxygen to the brain.
KEY STRATEGY – While taking any kind of blood thinner it is important to take the correct dose in order to reduce your chances of bleeding on the brain.
Immediately after an accident it is important to go to the emergency room to be assessed. If there is any type of swelling or bleeding on the brain it is important that is treated right away. With a Grade 1 or 2 Concussion it is important for a person to rest for a few days in order to allow the brain to heal. They will also not want to operate a motor vehicle for a week.
A Grade 3 Concussion is much more serious and may take longer for the brain to heal. Any kind of rigorous activity should be avoided for one month following the accident. A period of one week should pass without any symptoms before going back to regular activities. Just as breaking a bone would cause a person to modify their activities, so should a Mild Brain Injury. Pushing too hard after a MBI may make your condition worse.
The Legal Process
If you believe that there is a party liable for your Mild Brain Injury, it is important to bring in the help of a qualified and experienced attorney as soon as possible. An attorney that has experience in dealing with Mild Brain Injuries is an absolute must. They can help guide you through any decisions that doctors and insurance companies may want you to make decisions on.
The first step in the process will be the attorney taking an oral history of the patient. They will review all of your medical records and try to link their condition with an event to determine if anyone is liable. They will try to decide if there was any kind of pre-existing condition that may have been responsible for the Mild Brain Injury.
An experienced attorney will probably send the patient to a medical doctor, psychiatrist, neurologist and a neuropsychologist to assess their condition. They will also have a team of experts that they can turn to in order to examine accident reports.
An attorney may recommend visiting a counselor to learn coping skills or to come to terms with your injury. Marriages can suffer from a MBI so marriage counseling may be recommended. They will probably also point you in the direction of a brain injury support group. They will know what support groups are legitimate.
Read the next article: Aquired Brain Injury