Recognising the Subtle Signs of a Traumatic Brian Injury

The human brain is a complex structure and it is estimated that scientists only know less than 5% of what there is to be known about the brain.

Accordingly, brain injury claims are one of the most difficult areas of personal injury law.

The difficulty starts before Solicitors get involved, with traumatic brain injuries often missed by medical staff.

Unless there is an open head wound or long lasting unconsciousness, the head injury is unlikely to be the focus of the initial medical attention, especially if there are other injuries that require urgent attention.

An individual may lose consciousness for a few minutes, but this may be before the ambulance arrives.  If there are no witnesses to inform the ambulance, or person is unable to do so, the ambulance staff may not necessarily carry out the necessary checks to assess whether there is a traumatic brain injury.

Finally, individuals themselves, largely due to fear, can often miss their own head injuries.  Changes to the personality are either not recognised, or not admitted.

It is important with head injuries to ensure that treatment is sought at the earliest opportunity.

Hospital staff will likely recall that the severity of the traumatic brain injury using either the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) or the Mayo System.

The Glasgow Coma Scale is used to assess the level of consciousness.

A score of 15 out of 15 on the Glasgow Coma Scale represents a fully conscious individual.

A score of 8 or less means that there is a severe injury.

The ambulance and hospital staff will make a record of the GCS Score, usually in the ambulance and upon admission to hospital.

The Mayo System is an alternative system and is used to classify whether the traumatic brain injury is mild or moderate.

If an individual has lost consciousness of more than 30 minutes, had a GSC Score of less than 12, and continues to suffer post traumatic amnesia for 24 hours and there is the presence of blurred vision, confusion, dizziness, headaches or nausea and/or vomiting, under the Mayo system this will likely result as defining the injuries as a traumatic brain injury.

Often, the best people to spot this are the family members of the Claimant.  Here at Thackray Williams, claims often start with a loved one of the individual contacting us to say they have been “different” since the accident.

There are symptoms that need to be looked out for following a head injury and if any of these symptoms are present, urgent medical attention should be sought as they may indicate a head injury that could lead to a traumatic brain injury.

  • Loss of control such as a short fuse, rapid mood swings, or perhaps violence.
  • Apathy, people can often lack the drive to do anything.
  • Extreme tiredness, the individual may slur speech and can appear as if they are drunk.
  • Depressed mood.
  • Tension and anxiety.
  • Poor memory, tension or concentration.
  • Headaches.
  • Visual disturbances and tinnitus.

In terms of a personal injury claim, if these symptoms are present it can be helpful if family members make a diary detailing the nature of the complaints.

This diary can later be shown to a Neurologist or Neuropsychologist as evidence of the behavioural change, and can be useful in helping your specialist solicitor in assessing any treatment needs.

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