This blog is the 1st blog in a series of three that I have written for clients or family members of clients who have sustained a brain injury in an accident of any kind.
Although one doctor’s classification of a closed head injury may differ from another, there is general agreement that these are the main types:
Brain Bleed Injuries
- SDH-Subdural Sematoma (a bleed below Dura Mater)
- ICH-Intracerebral Hematoma (a bleed inside the brain)
- SAH-Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (a bleed into the Subarachnoid Space)
Non Brain Bleed Injuries
- MTBI-Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
To understand what these mean however, one must have a basic understanding what protects our brains.
Some of these injuries can be “seen” with use of CT scans and MRI’s (SDH, ICH, SAH) but others cannot (MTBI and Concussion).
Brain bleeds cause visually observable damage in the area of the bleed, but can also cause brain damage due to brain shifts and brain stem compression. There is very little room within the skull for blood to go therefore a brain bleed can put pressure on brain tissue.
With other types of injuries, like an ankle sprain, swelling can occur without further injury. However, because the brain is encased in a hard bony shell, swelling caused by bleeding puts pressure on the brain that can lead to death. In order to relieve that pressure an incision is made into the scalp and the skull using a special saw, allowing a piece of skull to be removed. This relieves the pressure on the brain and gives it a place to swell without causing more damage. This procedure is called a craniotomy or craniectomy. This type of surgery is done for severe brain injuries in which the swelling cannot be controlled by other means like medication.
Currently our health care system is focused on diagnosing and curing acute symptoms of injury. Because we have tests that allow us to see brain bleeds, and the pressure put on brain cells by the bleed, health care professionals are extremely responsive to these urgent, potentially life threatening problems. In addition health insurance companies are willing to pay for these procedures as well as any treatment of the symptoms of brain injury since they can “see” it on a CT or MRI.
However, the same symptoms can follow a MTBI or Concussion as a severe brain bleed. But, because we don’t yet have sensitive enough tests to visually see with our own eyes these types of brain injury, the care and payment for these types of ongoing problems may not get the same level of care and attention.
When you or your loved one has suffered any kind of brain injury due to another’s carelessness, and has long term consequences that affect aspects of daily life, it is important that you choose a lawyer who understands that treatment is needed, the kind of treatment that is needed, and can help prove that the unseen injury to the brain is real, and not just “in your head.”
Tony Baratta is a trial attorney in Huntingdon Valley, PA who represents clients who have been seriously injured. Tony is the founding partner of Baratta, Russell, & Baratta and a member of the Pennsylvania Brain Injury Association (BPIA). Tony is on the board for the Philadelphia VIP, a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for trial attorneys and voted one of Philadelphia’s Super Lawyers 2008-2014.