If you follow Big Ten football, you know that Ohio State recently won the Big Ten Championship - a high note in a season filled with high notes. But for many on the Ohio State Team, the victory was bittersweet. Barely a week prior to the Buckeyes' 59-0 rout of the Wisconsin Badgers, senior OSU
lineman Kosta Karageorge was found in a dumpster not far from his off-campus apartment. Karageorge had ended his own life, and in a text sent to his mother blamed a string of concussions suffered in his athletic career.
Unfortunately, this scenario isn't uncommon. News reports frequently highlight college and professional athletes who have ended their own lives, blaming traumatic brain injuries for their suffering. These are the stories that are most commonly reported to the public, but truthfully, brain injury isn't limited to the world of sports. More than 1.7 million people sustain a brain injury each year, many with long-term and far-reaching effects for the remainder of their lives. In fact, 8.9% of individuals with a brain injury attempt suicide, and many, like Kosta Karageorge, succeed.
While suicide is a final and extreme response to the aftereffects of a brain injury, there are any number of outcomes for a person who suffers a trauma to the brain.
What is a brain injury?
The word "concussion" is perhaps the most familiar term that we have for a brain injury, though a concussion isn't the only injury that can occur in the brain. Concussions can occur due to a violent blow to the head or jolt to the body, without a breach of the skull. Other injuries include contusions, which is a pooling of blood - essentially a bruise - on the brain, as well as open wounds to the brain caused by a breach of the skull. The medical establishment has different classifications for the different types of brain injuries, depending on their cause, severity, and outcome. But regardless whether it's called a concussion, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the effects of such an injury can profoundly alter the quality of life for those injured.
Leading causes of brain injury
We commonly associate brain injury with concussions suffered on the football field, but there are numerous causes, including falls (40.5% of injuries), motor vehicle accidents (14.3%), blows to the head (15.5%), and assault (10.7%). It's not only athletes who suffer brain injuries; in 2010 alone, 2.5 million Americans visited hospital emergency rooms, were hospitalized, or died as a result of traumatic brain injuries.
How brain injury affects quality of life
The human body has a remarkable capacity to repair itself, and yet a brain injury can often be more difficult to overcome than any other type of injury. Because of its "hidden" nature, a brain injury isn't always readily apparent to the casual observer. However, for the injured and their families, the aftereffects of such an injury can significantly alter the home life of all involved.
Brain injury can affect:
- Linear/logical thinking
- Sleep patterns
- Language processing - spoken and written
In addition to the physical, mental, and emotional challenges that can accompany a brain injury, many individuals find that they are unable to return to work or unable to work in the same capacity as before. This can cause substantial hardship for family finances and begin an avalanche of difficulties for everyone involved.
Medical bills associated with a brain injury can quickly get out of hand, so it's important to begin determining responsibility for the injury as soon as possible. Depending on the cause of the injury - a fall, vehicle accident, faulty product, negligence - crucial evidence may be lost if action isn't quickly taken. A personal injury attorney with experience in brain injury cases can begin an investigation into the facts of the case while the injured party and his or her family focus on the more immediate concerns of recovery.
If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury, don't wait - contact an attorney as soon as possible. Broken bones and stitches heal relatively quickly, but the effects of a brain injury can be long-lasting and difficult to fully recover from. Seeking the advice of an attorney at the outset may help to lessen the impact of the injury in terms of lost wages and growing medical bills. Your attorney can help to determine responsibility for the injury and give you guidance on how to proceed.