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Toronto Personal Injury Law Blog

Brain injuries: Symptoms and consequences

Sometimes people in Ontario and other provinces or territories suffer blows to their heads without realizing the harm that was done because symptoms might be delayed. When symptoms do appear, they might not be associated with the incident, thereby delaying the diagnosis and prompt treatment of brain injuries. The complications of brain injuries can be limited by early treatment.

Others might notice telltale signs of brain injuries in a friend or family member, which might include a slow response in answering questions, slurred speech, a vacant stare, staggered walking and confusion, along with weakness or numbness on one side of his or her body. Symptoms that the victim might become aware of headaches and dizziness, impaired vision and light sensitivity. There could be vomiting or nausea, short-term memory problems and concentration and thinking could become a problem.

Brain injuries: Study suggests children recover quickly

Care for children with concussions worldwide, including in Ontario, will likely benefit from research done at a university in another province and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A co-author of a report that was recently released says the work done at an integrated concussion research program will assist physicians who have to deal with concussions in children. He says many cases are not reported, but the reported cases of children suffering mild traumatic brain injuries have doubled over recent years, which might be due to more awareness.

Any jolt or bump to the head can cause the brain to bounce inside the skull, and brain cells could be damaged. However, the study suggests that parents should not overreact and have CT scans, X-rays and blood tests done unless significant symptoms are present. The author says most children recover fully from mild traumatic brain injuries in a reasonably short period.

Caring for a loved one with brain injuries takes a heavy toll

Some types of injuries after Ontario accidents affect not only the victims but also those who provide care -- often a spouse, a parent or even an adult child if the injured party is a parent. Brain injuries, for example, affect everyone around the victim because caring for that person could be extremely demanding and stressful. Caring for a loved one adds to the caregiver's usual responsibilities, and while it might be manageable at first, stress can build up, and the lack of breaks can lead to emotional exhaustion.

Stress typically develops from thoughts of how much must be done, how little time is available and the consequences of not doing what has to be done correctly. The accumulation of stress can leave the care provider feeling out of control of his or her own life, reducing the quality of life, which could also cause health problems. Common stress symptoms include headaches, sleep disorders, fatigue and memory problems.

Traumatic brain injuries keep crash victim comatose for 30 years

Some car accidents in Ontario and elsewhere can have devastating consequences. This is underscored by the fate of a former constable who suffered traumatic brain injuries in 1987 and lived in a vegetative state for more than 30 years. His wife visited him faithfully every day where he was bedridden in a small hospital room for all those years.

Reportedly, he was involved in an on-duty car accident while working night shift and responding to a call on Sept. 22, 1987. He lost consciousness on impact and received emergency neurosurgery that same night. However, he never recovered and remained comatose and partially paralyzed until his death in April this year.

Post-traumatic amnesia -- a typical consequence of brain injuries

The severity of damage caused in accidents is not always immediately evident. This also applies to brain injuries, of which the level of damage depends on the area of the brain that is injured along with the severity of the swelling that happens. Although doctors in Ontario and elsewhere rely on tests like EEGs and CT Scans to determine the damage done to the brain, they can never predict how long a patient will take to recover.

Doctors who use the Glasgow Coma Scale to measure the severity of brain injuries also consider the length of the period of post-traumatic amnesia experienced by the patient. Also called PTA, this is a challenging time for brain injury victims because they are unable to maintain concentration until something is committed to their memory. PTA is a period of acute confusion due to cognitive impairment, which includes difficulty with concentration, remembering, thinking and perception.

Which brain injuries are acquired and which are congenital?

Participants in various types of contact sports in Ontario are at risk of suffering head injuries. However, brain injuries can have other causes, and not all of them follow head trauma. Those that are caused by a blow to the head are called acquired brain injuries, and they can follow car accidents, falls or assaults.

Brain injuries can also be acquired when the brain is starved of oxygen, or when someone develops a brain tumour or an aneurysm. A stroke or an infection can also harm the brain. Sometimes, a person can suffer progressive brain damage due to multiple sclerosis, dementia, Parkinson's Disease or Alzheimer's Disease, although these are not classified as acquired brain injuries or ABI.

Brain injuries will affect normal schedules and responsibilities

A non-profit organization recently hosted a workshop in Toronto to help head-injury victims to understand why self-care is essential during the recovery time. An occupational therapist said those who suffered brain injuries typically find it extremely challenging to get their lives back into a familiar routine. She emphasized that each brain injury is unique, and recovery times vary. However, because TBI is mostly invisible to others, adults and adolescents are often expected to get back into their usual schedules and responsibilities.

A journalist who attended the workshop shared her struggle to recover after she suffered a brain injury a year ago. She says she received an accidental blow to her jaw at the gym and did not realize that she had suffered a concussion until she began experiencing a variety of symptoms. These included migraines, brain fog, problems focusing and concentrating, memory loss, nausea, and vomiting.

Brain injuries: Authorities concerned about lack of knowledge

Authorities have concerns about the lack of knowledge among people in Ontario regarding concussions. Surveys have indicated that many people do not know that concussions are traumatic brain injuries, nor do they know how to prevent them. Many respondents indicated that they would not recognize symptoms, and some said they do not know where to obtain information about concussions.


Water Safety And Children

For some, relaxing in a pool or lake is a great way to cool off on a sunny day. But for children or inexperienced swimmers, a large body of water may pose a risk if they are not careful.

According to Health Canada, children between 1-4 are most at risk for poolside accidents. In an effort to improve safety conditions they have released some tips for parents and caregivers to consider when supervising children around bodies of water.

Former NHL Player Highlights The Impact Of Brain Injuries

Brain injuries are common in sports related accidents. One major hockey league player has decided to speak out about the consequences of living with the injury.

In an article on GlobalNews.ca, Nick Boynton, a former defensive player for many NHL teams, including the Boston Bruins, recently published an opinion piece about his 11-year hockey career.

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