Our skulls have been specifically designed to protect one of the most important elements of our body, our brains, but even with its extra hard, naturally protective sheath, a mild bump to the head can lead to disorientation, memory loss, severe disability and even death.
Head trauma is commonplace
Head trauma is unfortunately commonplace in our society and can result accidentally, intentionally or as a by-product of a chosen profession like boxing, rugby or even cycling.
Serious damage to our cognitive processes can occur even when we do not suffer a blow to the head. A sudden and unexpected deceleration can cause whiplash, for example, and this is quite simply the delicate brain tissue bashing against the hard, serrated inner-skull.
Symptoms can last for years
What is so worrying about head trauma, be it a serious fracture or simply a light blow, is the fact that it can cause problems for months or even years after the event. Recent research indicates memory problems, cognitive dysfunctions and even Alzheimer’s disease can be a direct result of a mild head trauma experienced years before.
Apart from the obvious pain and suffering, the victim will have lost the opportunity of claiming justifiable damages in certain cases and will be left with a medical debt of considerable proportions if not adequately covered by personal injury insurance.
MRI scans are excellent diagnostic tools
Non-intrusive head injuries are also very difficult to diagnose as the damage is not visible to the naked eye. Fortunately, the advancement of technology has improved the diagnostic event and today MIR or Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans have eclipsed CT scans in efficacy.
The MRI’s are able to precisely pinpoint contusions, thereby detecting brain cell trauma – something the CT scans were never able to do. Secondary factors like lack of oxygen to the brain, brain swelling and any disturbance to the blood flow can be fatal and these issues are not easy to detect without neurological scans.
However, it is the more subtle type of head injury that is arguably more dangerous. Victims and witnesses may be less inclined to treat the trauma seriously but over 60% of mild head trauma patients continue to suffer from debilitating symptoms for up to 12 months after the incident.
Known as the ‘post-concussion syndrome’, symptoms are very tricky to diagnose with patients complaining of headaches, cognitive confusion, behavioural changes, emotional outbursts and short-term memory loss. The patient is often totally bemused as to the cause of the symptoms and often doesn’t realise that they stem from the incident.
Head trauma accounts for 70% of accidental deaths
Between 2% and 5% of head trauma victims will develop epilepsy, regardless of the force of the injury, and over 70% of all accidental deaths result from head injuries. These frightening statistics may well encourage readers involved in recent head injury cases to approach personal injury attorneys in South Africa to obtain adequate compensation, especially considering the cost of a single MIR scan alone.
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