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What happens after suffering a traumatic brain injury?

Depending on their severity, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can affect every aspect of the injured victims' lives. Not only the victims, but also their families and friends, can be adversely affected by TBIs, as these injuries can permanently alter the relationships the victims have with others.

If you or a loved one is struggling to overcome the effects of a TBI from a car wreck, on-the-job accident or a misadventure, the following information may be helpful.

Not all TBIs are the same

A traumatic brain injury can be a mild concussion from which the victim recovers fully and completely within weeks. On the other end of the spectrum, a severe TBI can leave a victim in a coma for the rest of his or her life. It's also quite common for these type of injuries to fall somewhere in the middle of that range.

While a mild concussion may never cause a victim to lose consciousness, severe traumatic brain injuries will always render victims unconscious for a period of time. Often, the length of time that TBI victims are unconscious can affect their abilities to recover, and to what degree.

Persistent vegetative state

Unlike comatose patients, those in persistent vegetative states can experience wakeful periods where their eyes open and may even appear to track people or objects. Some patients react to sounds or noises, the presence of loved ones and the sensation of being touched. They often grimace, smile or cry.

However, the victims' responses are reflexive and uncontrolled. They exhibit no purposeful behaviors and remain unaware of their surroundings while their physical bodies continue the processes that sustain life.

Minimally conscious state

Patients in minimally conscious states are starting to surface from unconsciousness. They can slip between the conscious and unconscious worlds and at times may follow commands and act purposefully.

These patients may or may not display appropriate emotions. Some might try to communicate in a rudimentary way. They may, over time, progress from this state to a higher level of consciousness. However, it is also likely that this will be the extent of their recovery potential.

Post-traumatic amnesia

Some TBI patients suffer from amnesia, or the inability to remember past memories. This can often be very frustrating for the patients and their loved ones, as they might no longer recognize their parents, siblings, spouses or children. They won't remember what happened to cause their conditions and/or be incapable of forming new memories.

People who have suffered severe TBIs will need high levels of care throughout their recoveries. Some may need 24-hour assistance for the rest of their lives. In order to be able to afford to receive this care, it may be necessary to pursue personal injury lawsuits against the at-fault parties.

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