Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms and Long Term Effects

What Is Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of head trauma that can often go unnoticed due to the lack of explicit symptoms. However, although a traumatic brain injury often is not accompanied by outward signs of harm, this type of head trauma can be severe. 

A traumatic brain injury is particularly common among members of the military, especially those serving on the frontlines. TBIs experienced by men and women in the military can be mild – like concussions – or more severe. If someone serving in the armed forces gets a concussion, their chances of a quicker recovery are much higher. However, a more severe traumatic brain injury can have significant long-term effects.

If you are a Veteran suffering from a traumatic brain injury, you may be eligible to receive significant disability benefits from the VA. The VA recognizes the potential that TBI has to affect a Veteran’s life and ability to function. They may give a Veteran suffering from traumatic brain injury a particularly high disability rating, leading to more compensation from the VA. 

Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Soldiers 

Members of the military are at a higher than average risk for traumatic brain injuries, especially when they are involved in combat. Below are some of the most common causes of TBI:

  • Getting hit on the head. When something heavy hits a person’s head, the impact can have long-term effects. Even after any outward sign of the injury has gone away, a sufferer of a TBI may still experience inhibited cognitive functioning long after the injury.
  • An electrical current. A high voltage jolt can cause cognitive functioning to be dramatically altered, leaving a person significantly affected. This type of TBI can be difficult to diagnose.
  • A bullet or other projectile penetrating the skull and reaching the brain. Getting shot in the head often leads to instant death. However, some may survive a bullet penetrating their skull but can sustain brain trauma.
  • The force of an explosion. If a bomb goes off during combat, a soldier can sustain a serious injury even if they are not hit by shrapnel or caught in the blast. The vibration from the explosion can cause a severe form of concussion that can leave an individual with long-term brain trauma.

Although mild concussions are also considered a form of TBI, these injuries have the potential to heal faster. However, a service-related concussion can still make you eligible to receive disability benefits. Your chances of receiving benefits are higher if you have sustained multiple service-related concussions or are continuing to experience the effects of a service-related concussion long after it occurred. 

What Are the Short-Term Symptoms of TBI?

In the wake of the impact that causes a traumatic brain injury, a person will likely feel extreme pain. In addition, they may get dizzy and even report seeing stars. A TBI is typically accompanied by confusion, and it can even cause amnesia. A sufferer of TBI may have no memory of the impact that caused their injury. In addition, the impact that leads to TBI can cause a person to lose consciousness.

What Are the Long-Term Symptoms of TBI?

Traumatic brain injuries can cause a wide array of symptoms. Many of the effects of a TBI are experienced internally rather than appearing outwardly as a wound. However, TBIs can still be diagnosed accurately by evaluating a person and finding several of the following symptoms present: 

  • Personality changes. Following brain trauma, a person’s personality can be significantly altered. This symptom of TBI may be easier for others to observe rather than the sufferer of the injury themselves. The personality changes that often come from a TBI may be more subtle, but they can also sometimes be dramatic.
  • Outbursts. Impaired cognitive functioning can cause a person to experience feelings of intense and uncontrollable anger. In the aftermath of a TBI, someone may be prone to outbursts of anger and rage. These outbursts can be a manifestation of personality changes caused by a TBI.
  • Irritability. When a person has brain trauma, they may feel a sense of irritation that is hard to place. A TBI can make you feel like something is permanently “off,” a frustrating sensation that can lead a person to outbursts of uncontrollable anger, or just manifest as irritability.
  • Anxiety. A TBI can cause persistent feelings of worry and fear. Service-related traumatic brain injuries can even lead to symptoms diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A person suffering from TBI and PTSD may experience fear and anxiety triggered by anything that reminds them of the source of their injury.
  • Apathy. In conjunction with personality changes, a TBI can provoke an overwhelming emotional numbness. A person suffering from brain trauma may seem unaffected by events and circumstances that would otherwise be troubling. 
  • Impaired Judgement. Since a TBI can cause cognitive functioning to be severely impaired, the injury can leave a person acting impulsively. A person suffering from brain trauma may act without thinking, doing and saying things that they normally would not.
  • Depression. A TBI can cause general emotional discombobulation. A sufferer of a TBI can end up becoming depressed and experience persistent feelings of discouragement and even hopelessness. Because a TBI can dramatically alter cognitive functioning, a person suffering from brain trauma may feel that their life has, in a sense, ended as a result of the injury and that they are now someone else. This feeling can lead to a deep depression.
  • Difficulty concentrating. Severe head injuries can make it hard for a person to stay focused on everyday tasks. When you are trying to meet the basic requirements of your job, brain trauma can make it nearly impossible. Because of the demands of many careers in terms of attention, brain trauma can make you ineligible for hiring in the eyes of many employers. For this reason, a severe TBI can give you the potential to qualify for a 100% disability rating or total disability based on individual unemployability (TDIU) from the VA.
  • Trouble articulating. A TBI can make it difficult to form coherent sentences. A person suffering from the symptoms of a TBI may not be as well-spoken as they were prior to their injury. The difficulty speaking brought on by a TBI can also interfere with work and everyday life in a big way. When making a case for a high disability rating for a TBI, this symptom can play a major role.
  • Fatigue. A TBI can cause a person to feel constantly weary and even disoriented. As you can imagine, constant fatigue can make it almost impossible to maintain focus and energy at work. Since ineligibility for employment often is a major factor in qualifying for TDIU from the VA, this symptom of TBI is one that can increase your chances of a high rating.
  • Dizziness. Some of the long-term effects of TBI can affect your balance, making it harder to stand up and stay oriented. Dizziness can make it extremely difficult to work, making it another symptom of TBIs that makes you eligible for disability benefits.
  • Blurred vision. Brain trauma can make it hard to see, another symptom of a TBI that can make it impossible to keep your current job. 
  • Headaches. This symptom of a TBI can be extremely uncomfortable and debilitating. Headaches from a TBI can also be accompanied by ringing in the ears, another symptom that can interfere with work and daily life.
  • Light and noise sensitivity. Intense light and loud noises can make a person suffering from a TBI feel uncomfortable and anxious. Because a TBI makes a person more susceptible to being affected by light and noise, an unpredictable work environment can be unsustainable with someone with brain trauma. 
  • Insomnia. Another symptom of a TBI that can have a massive impact on a person’s ability to function. Trouble sleeping is a common long-term effect of TBIs. You can make a case for a higher disability rating based on a brain injury’s impact on your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

What If the VA Gives You a Low Rating?

If you are suffering from a TBI, apply for disability benefits from the VA, and receive a rating that you think is inaccurate, we can help. Our team of attorneys are committed to helping disabled Veterans get all the compensation they deserve. Traumatic brain injuries can be debilitating, and can dramatically affect your life with serious long-term impacts. If the VA inaccurately rates your disability, you may end up with less support than you need while still being unable to work due to your disability.

The VA can reevaluate your case and potentially give you a higher rating if you make an appeal. The appeals process can be complicated, but one of our experienced VA disability attorneys can help you navigate the VA claims process in pursuit of a higher rating. You shouldn’t have to resolve a dispute with the VA on your own – we can help make it easier to get the rating and benefits that you deserve.

 

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/concussion/symptoms-causes/syc-20355594

https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/index.html

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Traumatic-Brain-Injury-Information-Page