Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are a frightening threat to patients’ lives and futures. They’re especially fearsome for victims’ families. Luckily for all, legions of devoted scientists and medical providers strive daily to improve the lives and futures of those stricken with serious injuries to our most vital, delicate organ.
Emergency Treatments for Serious TBI
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), initial treatment goals are stark: prevent death, prevent additional brain damage, and stabilize vital organ function—especially the heart and lungs.
Victims may need a breathing machine called a ventilator to help them breathe and get enough oxygen to their brain.
Emergency surgery may be required to prevent further brain damage, reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This can include:
- Removing blood clots. Hematomas put pressure on the brain, damaging its tissues.
- Repairing skull fractures. This might involve merely re-setting broken pieces or even removing bone shards from the brain itself.
- Relieving brain pressure. Sometimes doctors make a hole in the skull or even cut off parts of it to allow fluid and blood to drain, accommodate swelling, and relieve pressure inside the skull (called intracranial pressure, or ICP).
Intracranial pressure is such a threat to severe brain injury victims that doctors often order ICP monitoring. This involves inserting a tube through a hole drilled into the skull. It allows doctors to monitor whether additional medications or surgery are needed to prevent additional damage caused by swelling.
Medically-induced coma. Some TBIs require doctors to put people into temporary comas. According to the Mayo Clinic, this is because a comatose brain needs less oxygen to function. A medically-induced coma can help relieve the potential damage from blood vessels compressed by increased pressure in the brain, which prevents supplying brain cells with needed nutrients and oxygen.
In addition to high-intensity monitoring that may include long term placement in an intensive care unit (ICU), medical staff provide longer-term care, including medications. Side effects of TBI include some surprising conditions, which can be treated with medications such as:
- Antianxiety medication to reduce a common symptom for a brain injury victim: fear and nervousness.
- Anticoagulants to prevent blood clots that can further damage the brain, or worse.
- Anticonvulsants, or anti-seizure drugs, to prevent seizures that can result from damaged brain tissues and cause additional brain damage.
- Antidepressants to treat symptoms you might expect from a victim: depression and mood swings.
- Muscle relaxers to reduce muscle spasms.
- Stimulants to increase alertness and focus.
Staff are also vigilant for two silent but lethal killers you might not expect from this type of injury: infections (especially pneumonia) and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) (blood clots in veins, often the legs, which become a real threat during long periods of inactivity the bedridden victims face).
Many victims require even longer-term treatment to recover from the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of their injury. Sometimes these treatments begin in the hospital, but they are often finished at a long-term care facility such as an acute rehab facility or a brain injury facility like the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.
Long-Term Rehab Therapy for Brain Injury Victims
According to the National Institutes of Health, many TBI victims must relearn the most basic skills or learn new ways to do them. This can include just walking or dressing. Victims should get a thorough assessment by skilled staff to provide them with an individualized plan to address their needs. Needless to say, a vital part of the victim’s care team includes the family.
Victims may require a wide range of rehabilitation treatments, such as:
- Physical therapy to rebuild strength and coordination.
- Occupational therapy to address the ability to perform daily tasks, like dressing and bathing.
- Speech therapy to recover the ability to speak and use other communication skills, including devices if needed. It also helps with relearning to swallow.
- Psychological counseling to help learn coping skills and maintain emotional stability.
- Vocational counseling to help the person to return to work and deal with workplace challenges.
- Cognitive therapy to improve memory, focus, perception, learning, and judgment.
You May Need a Legal Team, Too—and You Found One
When brain injuries occur from accidents or at work, it becomes vital to make sure victims are compensated for the harm done to them. Beyond eye-popping medical bills, there’s potentially a lifetime of lost income, not to mention the profound damage done to the victim’s ability to enjoy life after all she’s missed out on while just attempting to reclaim it. And brain injuries from work qualify for some of the most extensive benefits allowed by law.
That’s why it’s vital for victims to protect every potential avenue of recovery to compensate for their enormous losses. You can’t count on an insurance company to do it for you, and the last thing you need is yet another challenge or obstacle thrown up in your way.
We’re here to help folks like you protect your right to the compensation you probably desperately need, and keep an insurance company from taking advantage of your inexperience and exhaustion. If you’ve got a question about a brain injury case, call toll free 888-230-1841 or fill out a Get Help Now form to get your questions answered by an experienced injury attorney.