Brain Injury Awareness Month 2021
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. Many people have struggled with Traumatic Brain Injuries at some point in their lives. In one year, there were 2.8 million traumatic brain injury related emergency room visits. Of these visits, there were 50,000 deaths. Concussions are the most common form of brain injury and sports are a large contributor to this with 300,000 concussions being diagnosed in athletes every year in the United States. Concussions are more dangerous than some people might believe because some people can have symptoms that last weeks or even months. People who have had a concussion can also be more susceptible to receiving a concussion in the future.
A major risk of sustaining multiple brain injuries like concussions is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which is a degenerative brain disease that can be found in athletes and military veterans among others. When the brain sustains multiple head impacts, a protein in the brain called tau can misfold and malfunction. This can spread in the brain and lead to cell death. It can take years for the effects and symptoms to manifest, but once symptoms start, they can be devastating.
Many changes in a person’s mood and behavior can show up in people diagnosed with CTE as early as 20 years old. Family members and friends around the person can see symptoms like impulse control problems, aggression, mood swings, depression, paranoia, and anxiety in people later diagnosed with CTE. People can also have cognitive decline issues including short-term memory loss, confusion, impaired judgement, and dementia. These symptoms can occur later in life though, usually in a person’s 40s and 50s. People with CTE can also have trouble sleeping.
Unfortunately, CTE cannot be diagnosed in a living person. The person must die and the brain must be studied using brain tissue analysis. Chemicals are applied to the brain tissue that help reveal the tau proteins. The brain is then examined to find tau proteins in the pattern that is unique to CTE. It can take months to do this and it is more involved than what occurs in a regular autopsy. Not many doctors are able to diagnose it, but recently a diagnostic criteria has been developed to help doctors and researchers who are not as familiar with the disease.
Did you or a loved one sustain a brain injury or another type of injury? You could be entitled to compensation. Contact us today by calling 412-471-3980 or by filling out our contact form to see what our attorneys can do for you!