Catastrophic TBI: Penetrating Brain Injury

Each year, approximately two million people suffer traumatic brain injuries in the United States.  For most of these people, the injury will take the form of mild TBI, such as a concussion.  However, severe TBI is far from uncommon, and the results are often permanent disability or death.  Mortality rates from brain injuries are so high that TBI is the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 1 and 44.  For those who survive a catastrophic brain injury, the cost of medical care and social management is enormous, totaling more than $25 billion annually. Perhaps the most devastating type of head trauma is the penetrating brain injury, in which a foreign object enters the brain matter.  One study shows that the mortality rate for civilian penetrating injuries is as high as 93%, with most victims succumbing to the injury at the scene, in transit to the hospital, or soon after arrival at the trauma center. For survivors of a penetrating injury, the prognosis can be grim, including permanent disability and impairment. Penetrating injuries, or open head trauma, occur when an object breaches the dura mater, the protective covering of the cranium, and enters the brain.  Penetrating objects may include high-velocity objects, such as bullets, or low-velocity objects, such as bone fragments from a broken skull.  If the object both enters and exits the brain, the injury is known as a perforating injury, and the prognosis is particularly bleak. Penetrating injuries are caused by any accident or act of violence which causes a foreign object, including bone fragments, to enter the brain:

  • Automobile accident
  • Construction accident
  • Falling objects
  • Falls
  • Sports injuries
  • Violence, assault, or abuse:  gunshot wounds, stab wounds, being struck in the head
Penetrating injuries frequently cause the death of the accident victim or crime victim.  Those who survive a catastrophic brain injury may endure permanent impairment:
  • Memory loss
  • Attention disorders
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Loss of vision
  • Loss of hearing
  • Paralysis or loss of motor function
  • Personality changes or disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Depression
Whether you are suffering the loss of a loved one or adapting to a disability, a penetrating brain injury can permanently alter your life and create an overwhelming burden--physically, emotionally, and financially.  If you are the victim of an act of violence or an act of negligence, you may be able to obtain financial compensation from those liable for your losses.

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