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Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys

TBI Terminology Simplified for Kansas City Residents

Kansas City residents are often frightened and reluctant to discuss traumatic brain injury and how it affects sufferers .  Reasonably so--a traumatic brain injury can affect memory, personality, intelligence, basic bodily function, and other brain responsibilities of the brain; it has the potential to be absolutely devastating.  Some victims face years of treatment and still never fully recover.

Your daily life depends on a your brain—you are able to wake every morning to breathe in the smell of your coffee, make your way through the streets of downtown Kansas City as you work and play, and settle down to dinner with your family all because of your hardworking brain.  Your brain is also the core of who you are—the decisions you make, the thoughts you have, and the words you speak—these aspects of your personality all originate in that organ. 

TBI is caused by an impact severe enough to disrupt the brain’s ability to function, which can occur due to a variety of causes.  For example, after a serious or even minor car accident, TBI could occur from a blow to the head or a sharp object penetrating the skull.  Details of TBI symptoms and its causes are as complex as the situations in which TBI occurs, but knowing more about how these injuries can occur and what to do after an automobile collision or fall can help alleviate this tumultuous emotional experience.

If you or a loved one has sustained a moderate or severe TBI, the Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys can help you determine if you are eligible to file a personal injury claim to compensate for present and future medical bills, psychological suffering, loss of wages, and more.  Contact us here on the website or call 816-471-5111 for a free consultation. 

Learn even more by downloading a free copy of our Brain Injury Survivor’s Guide which will further explain the brain itself, the kinds of brain injuries that one can suffer, how brain injury affects an individual’s daily life, the emotional side of the experience, and therapy/recovery options. 

Traumatic brain injury is scary, but becoming informed can help you move forward in spite of that fear.  Below is a glossary of terms often found in the realm of traumatic brain injury—these are divided into “Parts of the Brain and Procedures” and “Conditions of the brain.”

Parts of the Brain and Procedures

Basal Ganglia:  The “grey matter”, or mass cluster of neurons, found in the brain tissue at the base of the forebrain.  This area controls voluntary movement throughout the body as well as cognitive and emotional functions.  It communicates extensively with other central areas of the brain.  Damage to this area can lead to involuntary ticks and loss of motor control, such as those associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Brain Stem:  The region that connects the brain and the spinal cord and regulates very basic functions such as breathing, blood pressure, level of arousal or consciousness, heart rate, and digestion.  All information between the brain and the body is relayed through the brain stem, such as motor and sensory input.  Because the brain stem regulates such fundamental processes, serious injury can be extremely serious and life-threatening.

Cerebral Cortex: This is the outermost layer of grey matter at the top of the brain and includes two-thirds of the entire brain’s mass.  Together, its four lobes are responsible for receiving and processing sensory information, reasoning and other forms of thinking, visual perception, memory, emotion, language, and hearing. 

Cerebral Hemispheres: The two sides of the brain, right and left.  Both work together in carrying out some processes, but each half has its own responsibilities.  The two hemispheres are linked by a bundle of nerves called the corpus callosum.

CT/CAT Scan:  An exam that consists of a series of X-rays in order to map the brain in detail and diagnose an individual’s severity of injury and its location.  Snapshots are taken from different angles and of different cross-sections to gain a detailed, comprehensive image of the brain.  The CT scan is often used in lieu of an MRI as it

Electroencephalogram (EEG):  A painless medical exam that detects the levels of electrical activity using small, metal discs, or electrodes, that are applied to the scalp.  Even during sleep, the brain’s cells emit electric signals, which the EEG tracks to determine level of brain activity.

Frontal Lobes:  The region of the brain at the forefront of each hemisphere; these regulate movement, decision-making, problem-solving, planning, memory, and personality expression.  

Glasgow Coma Scale:  A method of measuring the degree of loss of consciousness from head injury..  The scale has three components—eye, verbal, and motor response—that are scored from 1 to 15 and then combined.  A final score of 7 or lower indicates coma or death, while 15 indicates a patient is responsive.

Grey Matter:   In contrast to the white matter that regulates action-related functions, grey matter regulates processing and cognition, absorbing information from sensory organs.  Grey matter consists of bundles of large numbers of neural cell bodies that altogether form the cerebral cortex.

Hippocampus:  This structure sits near the central region of the brain underneath the cortex and plays an integral role in both short-and long-term memory encryption, spatial navigation, emotion, and sexuality.   Damage to this region can result in memory loss and has been linked with effects on intellectual and verbal memory function as well.

Intracranial Pressure Monitor (ICP): The ICP is used to measure the pressure inside the skull as the brain swells from severe trauma.   Continued swelling hinders the brain’s oxygen supply, resulting in anoxia or hypoxia (see below), and the ICP can determine whether the patient is at risk for further injury.  Most patients are already unconscious, but this procedure is also sometimes done under general or local anesthesia.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI):  This test is similar to a CT/CAT scan but tends to be more costly and far more time-consuming (45 minutes for an MRI versus 5 to 10 for a CT scan), so it is often ruled out in the heat of a medical emergency.  Unlike the CT scan, an MRI does not use radiation or invasive techniques, and the images from an MRI tend to be of higher quality. 

Motor Cortex:  This brain region is the center of planning and executing voluntary movements and is located throughout the upper surface of the brain on the primary sensory cortex.

Nasogastric Tube: Also what is known as a feeding tube, this object provides liquid food for patients unable to ingest solid food, possibly due to brain injury.  It travels through the nose and ino the throat before entering the stomach.

Neurotransmitters:  Each neuron in the body communicates with other neurons through these tiny chemicals.  The receiving neuron has special receptors for various neurotransmitters, which include the well-known dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.  These and other neurotransmitters allow a wide variety of products throughout the brain and body, such as action or pleasure.

Occipital Lobes: The region of the brain at the rear of the two cerebral hemispheres that regulates visual processes.

Temporal Lobes: These lobes are located in the lower half of the brain under the frontal and parietal lobes.  This region includes the hippocampus and is integral in a variety of sensory- and memory-related functions: language, sight, memory, emotion, and hearing.

Ventilator:  This machine supports the breathing of patients who are unresponsive, such as those whore are in a persistent vegetative state or are comatose.  It does this by moving air in and out of the lungs mechanically, and the oxygen content of this air can be adjusted according to a patient’s needs.

 

Conditions

Amnesia: loss of memory, often caused by physical trauma known in the medical field as Post-Traumatic Amnesia (PTA).  In retrograde amnesia, there is a loss of memories encoded prior to the injury. In anterograde amnesia, there is disruption in the ability to create new memories after the injury occurs.  Amnesia can occur in a wide range of severity, and factors such as loss of consciousness play a key role in the length and intensity of PTA.   Because memory plays a key role in intelligence, PTA can be associated with intelligence impairment and other long-term effects on the brain.

Aneurysm:  A condition in which an artery becomes enlarged (known as a “true” aneurysm, occurring in all three layers of the arterial wall) or leaks blood (known as a “false” or pseudoaneurysm, often caused by trauma).  Aneurysms can occur in the brain, thorax, legs, and other areas—cerebral aneurysms can cause deadly strokes.

Anoxia/Hypoxia:  The complete absence of oxygen reaching the brain despite blood flow to the tissue is called anoxia, while hypoxia refers to a decrease in oxygen supply despite blood flow to the tissue.  Cases of anoxia and hypoxia can result in coma for nearly any range of time from hours to months, myoclonic jerks, or muscle spasms, neck stiffness, and permanent brain damage.

Aphasia/Dysphasia: A language disorder in which someone struggles to grasp meaning from spoken or written language and has difficulty expressing thoughts verbally.  This condition can follow a brain injury.  A complete loss of language is known as aphasia, while a partial loss is called dysphasia.

Athetosis:  A condition in which the sufferer involuntarily makes repetitive, writhing movements of the hands and sometimes the toes and feet; this can result from TBI and other brain disorders.

Dyspraxia: The condition in which someone loses coordination and the ability to carry out smooth and controlled movements, affecting large and small muscle movements at varying degrees.  Most commonly a developmental disorder that affects children very early, dyspraxia can also result from a brain injury. 

Haematoma:  A pooling of blood outside of the blood vessels in the skull or abdomen.  This internal bleeding also causes swelling that, in the brain, can cause permanent brain damage as it creates pressure against the brain and skull.

Oedema/edema:  An organ swelling from fluid building up in the tissue—oedema in the brain can cause swelling and increased pressure in the skull.

Persistent Vegetative State (PVS):  This term is used to describe the condition of severe brain injury patients who are in a state of unconsciousness but still breathing, showing a regular heartbeat, and exhibiting other basic functions and are in this state for longer than a few weeks.

Respiratory Arrest: When someone has stopped breathing and oxygen is not being delivered from the bloodstream to the lungs.  This state can lead to cardiac arrest if medical attention does not restore respiratory function promptly.

 

James Roswold
James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.

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