The signs of secondary brain injury are not always easy to spot, but recognizing them could save your life.
Symptoms of secondary brain injury do not emerge within minutes or even hours after a trauma. Unlike a primary brain injury, which occurs during the initial trauma, symptoms of a secondary brain injury can occur within 12 to 24 hours or as long as 10 days later.
The delay has to do with the causes of the secondary brain injury, which include cerebral ischemia and disturbances at the blood-brain barrier. Secondary brain injuries also increase levels of destructive free radicals in the blood and aggravate inflammatory responses by the immune system. They usually cause swelling in and around the brain, as well.
Primary vs. Secondary Brain Injury
There are two types of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): primary brain injuries have immediate symptoms, often serious, that require emergency medical treatment. Open brain injuries or those producing visible evidence of damage (bleeding wounds, swollen areas on the head) are typically classified as primary brain injuries. Open brain injuries involve blood vessel damage, contusions, skull fractures, and torn or stretched neuronal axons (axonal shearing). Within seconds, people who have sustained a primary brain injury may be unconscious or semi-conscious, partly paralyzed, or unable to communicate. By contrast, individuals with a secondary brain injury may emerge from the incident feeling fine, only to begin experiencing symptoms hours or even days later. Signs of a possible secondary brain injury include:
- Severe, frequent headaches
- Vision problems or loss of visual stability
- Memory loss or difficulty with short-term memory
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Dizziness or fainting
- Moodiness, acute depression, or personality changes
- Changes in eating habits
- Sudden seizures or convulsions
- Sensory deficits (loss of smell and hearing)
- Hypersensitivity to light and/or noise
- Slurred speech, inability to communicate, inability to understand what others are saying
If secondary brain injury is diagnosed by a medical professional, it is recommended that the injured party or his or her loved contact a brain injury lawyer for help in obtaining compensation for current and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
How to Proceed After a Secondary Brain Injury
Victims of motor vehicle accidents caused by negligent drivers may qualify to file a secondary brain injury claim with the assistance of a brain injury lawyer. People who slip and fall on someone else's property or suffer a workplace accident may also be eligible to receive compensation for medical bills, pain, and suffering. Some secondary brain injuries occur due to medical malpractice. Surgical/prescription errors, birth injuries, receiving substandard healthcare, and harmful medical treatment attributed to erroneous diagnoses are examples of medical malpractice types that are capable of causing secondary brain injuries. Individuals injured by defective products who are later diagnosed with a secondary brain injury may also be entitled to compensation. In Kentucky, a statute of limitations limits the filing of TBI claims after a specified time has passed. For vehicle accident victims, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the accident. KRS Chapter 413: Limitation of Actions also states that the certain cases must be brought to court within one year. Your attorney can assist with making sure your cause of action falls within the prescribed limitations periods. If you or someone you know has suffered a secondary brain injury and would like to consult with an experienced brain injury lawyer in Kentucky, please call Edwards and Kautz at 866.795.5087. Our attorneys can provide you with wise legal counsel on how to proceed with your potential case.