Coping with Traumatic Brain Injury

Coping with Traumatic Brain Injury

Coping with Traumatic Brain Injury


Did you know that brain injuries are very common in Canada? Brain injury is, in fact, the leading cause of death and disability for Canadians under 40, and 1.5 million people in our country live with it. The annual incidence of brain injury in Canada is greater than that of multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, HIV/AIDS, and breast cancer combined. Acquired brain injuries, or ABIs, are divided into two categories: non-traumatic, and traumatic. Non-traumatic brain injuries are those caused by processes inside the body, or substances introduced into the body that harm brain tissue. Traumatic brain injuries are those that result from something that happens outside the body, such as a blow, a bump, or a jolt. Leading causes of traumatic brain injury include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falls
  • Assaults
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Domestic violence
  • Strangulation or suffocation
  • Shaken baby syndrome
  • Sport injuries
  • Explosive blasts and combat injuries

Mild traumatic brain injuries may affect brain cells temporarily. However, serious traumatic brain injury can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding, and other damage to the brain. These more severe injuries can cause long-term health effects, or even death.


There are many physical symptoms that accompany a traumatic brain injury, or TBI. These may appear immediately after the injury occurs, or over a period of time. For mild brain injuries, symptoms may include:


  • Fatigue, difficulties with sleeping, insomnia
  • Challenges with movement, personal care, and household tasks
  • Slurred speech
  • Chronic pain, headaches, vertigo
  • Sensory problems (i.e., blurred vision, ringing in the ears)
  • Sensitivity to light or sound


For moderate to severe brain injuries, symptoms may include:


  • Loss of consciousness
  • Persistent headache
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Seizures
  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
  • Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
  • Loss of coordination


If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms following an accident or incident, seek emergency healthcare immediately.


Fortunately, most mild traumatic brain injuries are temporary, and although it may take time for people who acquire them, eventually most will make a full recovery. More serious brain injuries, on the other hand, can be completely debilitating for the patient, and stressful for family members.


Severe TBIs


People who sustain a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) may die at the scene of the accident. They may be resuscitated, but later be found to have suffered irreversible brain death. They may go into a coma, from which they may emerge, or from which they may enter a vegetative state. Many people with severe traumatic brain injuries recover, although they may experience lifelong effects from the accident. These include physical symptoms such as seizures, headaches, paralysis, or altered vision, can be difficult to cope with. But many patients and their families find that the intellectual/cognitive, emotional/social, and behavioural effects are even more problematic.


People with a TBI can have problems with memory, learning, reasoning, and concentration. They may show poor judgement. They may have difficulty with executive functioning tasks like problem-solving, multitasking, organization, and planning. Their judgement may be poor, and decision-making can be unusually fraught, or lacking.


A TBI can impair someone’s ability to communicate. They can have difficulty organizing their thoughts, following a conversation, or speaking and writing. They may lose their ability to read social cues, so that they don’t catch tone or emotion, they don’t pick up on subject changes, they misread or ignore non-verbal cues, and they have difficulty starting or stopping conversations.


A TBI can cause emotional changes. People with a TBI can develop depression and anxiety. They may experience drastic mood swings. They may show irritability, anger, and a lack of empathy for others.


And a TBI can also cause behavioural problems. People who have traumatic brain injury often have difficulty with self-control, difficulty in social situations, and a lack of awareness of their abilities. This can lead to risk-taking as well as anti-social behaviour like verbal outbursts or physical violence.


Making a Claim for a TBI


If you or a family member have suffered a traumatic brain injury due to an accident, you may be able to receive compensation through an insurance claim or lawsuit. While money can never truly compensate for what your family has been through, it may help to make your lives easier by providing funds for caregiving, rehabilitation therapy, and other expenses as well as for loss of income due to inability to work.


Consult with a personal injury lawyer and explain your situation. A lawyer who is experienced with these kind of cases can assess your circumstances and let you know what options may be open to you.


Living with a traumatic brain injury can be difficult, but finding ways to cope can help put your family back on track. Talk to a personal injury lawyer today and learn more about what’s available to you.