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What You Should Know About Brain Injuries From Slip or Trip and Fall Accidents

It seems unlikely that a slip and fall or trip and fall accident could cause a traumatic brain injury (TBI), but it’s just not. According to a 2019 study by the Center For Disease Control, falls were the leading cause of TBI, accounting for nearly half (48%) of all TBI-related emergency room visits.

Children and the elderly are especially at risk. For all TBI-related ER visits, nearly half for children were caused by falls, while 4 in 5 (81%) for those 65 or over were fall-related.

To help you learn more about how falls can cause a grave injury to the most delicate, complex organ of the body, I had to do some research. I’m not a doctor or a scientist, so I needed to find info I could understand. Luckily, I discovered a website produced by WETA-TB, a PBS station in Washington, DC. They created a website about brain injuries for regular folks like us, and now I pass on what I learned from it to you.

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

Traumatic brain injury, also called TBI, means you’ve suffered brain damage. While a brain injury can occur in practically any area of the brain, doctors diagnose the injury by defining its precise location as well as the extent of the damage.

How a Fall Accident Can Cause a TBI

Brain injuries from slip or trip and fall accidents are almost always closed head injuries. This medical definition means nothing went through the skull to cause the brain injury. In contrast, an example of an open head injury would be a person who’s shot in the head.

How can a brain injury happen from a fall? An unexpected trip over a defective floor mat sends a victim flying headfirst into the floor. Or a violent slip slams them flat onto the back of their head. The brutal collision of the head directly into the floor, or even just the mighty jolt of the head, can inflict a brain injury sort of like a car crash.

The reason slip and fall brain injuries happen may surprise you: the inside of the skull isn’t perfectly smooth. Instead, it’s uneven and rough. When the brain slams into it, fragile brain components tear and blood vessels get shredded.

Usually, traumatic brain injury occurs where the brain hits the skull. But it can also occur on the opposite side in what’s called a coup-contracoup injury.

The Invisible Threat of Grave Brain Injury

Just because there is no visible damage outside the head doesn’t mean there’s none inside it. Watch any fall victim closely for warning signs of traumatic brain injury.

A key indicator of the severity of the brain injury is whether the injury is focal or diffuse.

  • Focal brain damage is usually found in the front and sides of the brain, called frontal and temporal lobes. Doctors usually discover these injuries through brain scans like MRIs or CTs.
  • Diffuse injuries present a double-headed monster. The damage is more spread out, and it usually can’t be found in a scan. These injuries usually reveal themselves in mental, emotional, or physical hardship displayed by the victim.

In diffuse injuries, delicate nerve fibers called neuronal axons get strained or even torn. Axons are the phone lines of the brain—these “long arms” of brain nerve cells connect the cells to each other, thus connecting different parts of the brain to each other, and link the brain to the rest of the body. The damage or destruction to axons disrupts or cuts off the brain’s ability to communicate with itself or other parts of the body.

Treatment and Recovery for Traumatic Brain Injuries

All brain injuries are unique. The same holds true for symptoms and recovery for each survivor. Treatment and rehabilitation will be based on the location of the injury and the extent of brain damage. Injuries range from a concussion to severe, life-threatening TBI.

To get an immediate idea of traumatic brain injury severity, doctors give some initial tests that can give them a clue.

Serious brain injuries can be life-changing mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially—for both survivors and their families. Survivors with serious to severe TBIs face a long, expensive journey to recover, which may only achieve the ability to adjust to a new way of life imposed by the injury.

Still, many survivors find themselves blessed with an entire team of medical professionals committed to their full recovery.

Add a Legal Professional to Your Recovery Team

Brain injury survivors and their families often find themselves in dire need of a financial recovery to compensate for long-term or even life-long losses inflicted by the injury. There’s a lot of good an attorney can do in a case like this.

An experienced, determined attorney is even more important for you because slip and fall or trip and fall cases aren’t “open and shut” and they’re often hard-fought by the other side. There are tough defenses you’ve got to overcome. Hard questions you face from the place where you fell include:

That's why we start building your case from the ground up, literally- because how you fell is often the biggest factor in your case. To get your questions answered, call us toll-free at 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form. To scout us before you meet us, check out client reviews we couldn’t edit or approve before they were published on Avvo.com and Google+.

Rob Usry
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Rob is a Spartanburg personal injury lawyer. Rob also practices as a criminal defense attorney.