Traumatic Brain Injury and Cervical Spine Trauma
In a serious car accident, a traumatic brain injury could be associated with trauma to the cervical spine. While all head injuries need to be taken seriously, this situation could be made even worse if there is a concomitant injury to the spine as well. Cervical spine injuries are severe on their own, however, when combined with a traumatic brain injury, the results could be catastrophic.
The Design of the Research Study
A medical study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery sought to explore the relationship between traumatic brain injuries and cervical spine injuries. Because the cervical spine attaches to the base of the skull, it is not unusual for individuals to suffer injuries to both the brain and the spinal cord. When the two are found together, it can create a particularly problematic situation for an individual and their loved ones.
Unfortunately, individuals who have suffered a head injury often present to the medical center with altered mental status. Some of the symptoms of a head injury include:
- An intermittent loss of consciousness
- A severe headache
- Some difficulty with hearing and vision
- Agitation and anxiety
- Memory difficulties
While these symptoms can be signs of a traumatic brain injury, it can also make it difficult for individuals to communicate what they are feeling and where they are hurting. This can make it hard to both identify and manage individuals who have a spinal cord injury. Because the cervical spine is the highest region of the spinal cord and is closest to the brain, it is also the most frequently injured segment of the spinal cord when a traumatic brain injury is also diagnosed. Prior studies have reported that approximately 5 percent of all traumatic brain injuries also have a simultaneous injury to the cervical spine.
The Results of the Study
The researchers reviewed all of the medical records at two separate trauma centers. All of these individuals had presented to the trauma center over three years. Half of the individuals had suffered a moderate traumatic brain injury while the other half had suffered severe head injuries. Out of all of the individuals in the study, around 5 percent of them had experienced a simultaneous injury of the cervical spine. Nearly all of the individuals who had suffered a cervical spine injury with a TBI were involved in a motor vehicle collision. About 10 of the individuals subsequently required surgery for their cervical injury. Some other important points include:
- Individuals who presented with a lower Glasgow Coma Scale score were more likely to also have a cervical spine injury.
- At six months after the spinal injury, around a third of the individuals had recovered from their injury.
- About a third of the individuals suffering a spinal injury still had neurological symptoms six months after the injury.
- The other third of the individuals (a total of 8 patients) had died.
The study shows that individuals who present with a low Glasgow Coma Scale score need to be examined carefully for a cervical spine injury. This could include a CT scan or an MRI. Because many of these individuals have both a traumatic brain injury and a spinal cord injury, they should receive emergent medical care. It could lead to improved recovery.
Treating the Traumatic Brain Injury
Once the injuries have been diagnosed, it is time to start the treatment process. This often includes grading the injuries using a CT scan or an MRI. Once this is done, some of the other essential treatment points include:
- Administration of medications to control the blood flow to the brain and the spinal cord to prevent an increase in intracranial pressure.
- Application of devices to immobilize the cervical spine and prevent further damage from taking place.
- Possible emergent surgery to decompress the spinal cord or reduce the intracranial pressure inside of the skull.
Watch YouTube Video: Spinal and Brain Injuries: Sarah’s Survival Story. This video follows a young girl’s road to recovery following a traumatic brain and spinal injury.
Contacting a Brain Injury Lawyer
Having a loved one suffer multiple severe injuries can be stressful. As families learn more about what has happened, they could find themselves with more questions than answers. Because of this, any family that is dealing with a traumatic brain injury should meet with a traumatic brain injury lawyer in San Francisco. Some of the resources that a compassionate injury attorney might be able to provide include:
- Meeting with trained accident reconstruction professionals to ensure that none of the important details have been missed.
- Acting as an objective professional who can help families make tough decisions during an emotionally difficult time.
- Negotiating with financial institutions to ensure that all benefits are paid out on time.
- Assisting families in seeking damages related to the accident, any of its injuries, and even pain and suffering.
- Transitioning a case to trial when required.
Traumatic Brain Lawyers in San Francisco
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