Traumatic Brain Injury FAQs

These FAQs will help you better understand what a traumatic brain injury is and how to pursue a personal injury claim in Florida. Our FAQs are updated frequently by our team of local experts on behalf of Clearwater traumatic brain injury lawyer, Jim Dodson.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Florida accident as a result of someone’s carelessness, we are here for you. Our personal injury law firm has over 25 years experience successfully representing traumatic brain injury cases and wrongful death claims. You need to feel certain that you can turn your personal injury case over to a lawyer who cares about you. If you have immediate questions and want to speak to a brain injury attorney, call our office at 888-815-6398 to schedule a time to discuss your accident case. There is never a fee for a consultation.

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  • Is Having an MRI Done Helpful if Someone has a Concussion?

    A standard MRI is usually not helpful for a concussion. This is because a standard MRI maps the structure of the brain and not its function. A standard MRI is a powerful tool in detecting structural damage to the soft tissues of the brain, as seen with strokes, aneurysms, tumors, bleeding in the brain, etc. But a concussion affects how your brain functions and communicates information with the body. Your brain is made up of billions of neurons or brain cells that communicate with each other to perform thousands of functions. A concussion disrupts communication between neurons and can have a significant impact upon a person’s ability to carry out everyday activities at the same level prior to sustaining a concussion. A standard MRI cannot detect alterations in neural communication. This disruption in how the brain functions is the hallmark of a concussion and not visible on a standard MRI scan.

    Sometimes a standard MRI will be ordered by a healthcare provider if neurologic symptoms progress, there are focal neurological findings on a physical exam, or there is concern for a skull fracture or other injury. Without these clinical symptoms however, most healthcare providers forgo ordering a standard MRI which typically comes back normal because mapping brain structure is not the same as mapping brain function. For mapping brain function, a specialized MRI called a functional MRI can be an option. Research has shown this type of specialized MRI is helpful in revealing brain connectivity or brain activity which can be helpful in treating a concussion or diagnosing post-concussion syndrome.

    Experienced Florida Brain Injury Attorney

    Jim Dodson is an experienced brain injury attorney with over 25 years of experience representing victims who have suffered a concussion or brain injury from the negligence of someone else. If you have immediate questions and want to speak to Jim, call our office at 888-815-6398 to schedule a time to discuss your case. There is never a fee for a consultation.

  • Why Should I be Concerned About My Child or a Loved One Getting a Concussion?

    What is a Concussion?

    Contrary to what many people believe, a concussion is not simply a “bruise” to the brain after bumping the head. A concussion is actually a traumatic brain injury. They are caused when the head is hit or hits something which results in the brain to rapidly accelerating inside the skull. When the rapidly moving skull comes to an abrupt stop, the momentum of the brain causes it to strike the inside of the skull with great force. This all happens very rapidly, but far from being just a quick event, it initiates processes deep within the brain tissue which may last a lifetime.

    What Happens Inside the Brain?

    The brain is a highly-organized, extremely complex, and powerful command center of the human body. It governs our emotions, thoughts, memories, learning, intelligence, creativity, movement, speech, our senses and so much more. Its capabilities are amazing. But it is very fragile. The brain is soft and delicate and has a Jell-O-like consistency. Inside the brain are billions of neurons, which communicate signals over long-spindly structures, called axons. The smooth and uninterrupted transmission of these signals over the axons is vital to the brain’s ability to properly control our bodies.

    The skull serves to protect the brain from external blows to the head, but when the head or torso is subjected to a sudden force or jolt, the brain forcefully shifts and moves inside the skull, causing the neurons and axons to stretch and even tear. When an axon is torn, it not only disrupts the brain’s ability to communicate its vital signals, but also causes the death of surrounding neurons from toxins which are released when the destroyed axons begin to degrade and deteriorate.

    What are the Symptoms of a Concussion?

    Symptoms of many concussions are immediately visible. Sometimes, however, they become apparent much later. Symptoms that typically appear immediately include headache, confusion, disorientation, loss of consciousness, amnesia about how the injury occurred, dizziness, and others. Symptoms that can occur later include depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, fatigue, visual disturbances, problems with concentration and attention, memory problems, sleep disturbances, as well as changes in mood and behavior.

    How Long Does it Take a Concussion to Heal?

    Each brain is unique, and each injury is unique. There are also different levels of concussion severity (from mild to severe). The average complete healing time for a concussion is typically 2-3 months according to scientific literature. Getting appropriate medical care, following physician’s orders, and protecting yourself from receiving another concussion while healing from an initial concussion, are crucial to the healing process. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, concussion symptoms can last well beyond the “normal” healing period. In fact, people can suffer these symptoms for months or even years after the event. Suffering concussion symptoms beyond the time that is considered “normal” is called Post-Concussion Syndrome (or PCS). PCS is a serious medical condition that wreaks havoc on a person’s daily life – interfering with work, social life, school, hobbies, and personal relationships. Persistent post-concussion syndrome may be considered a permanent injury and its effects may ripple throughout one’s life.

    Experienced Florida Brain Injury Lawyer

    Jim Dodson, an experienced brain injury lawyer has over 25 years experience successfully representing clients who have suffered a brain injury from the wrongdoing of someone else. If you have immediate questions and want to speak to Jim, call our office at 888-815-6398 to schedule a time to discuss your accident case. There is never a fee for a consultation.

  • How Do You Know if You Need a CT Scan After Concussion?

    A CT scan is a medical imaging test used by physicians to diagnose certain conditions. It combines a series of x-rays and computer technology to create structural images of the body. Immediately following a head injury, a CT scan is commonly used to diagnose suspected bleeding in the brain, swelling of the brain, and skull fractures which may be life threatening and require emergency surgery. Signs and symptoms of bleeding in the brain or a skull fracture include seizures, unequal pupil size, blood or fluid coming from the ear or nose, bruising under the eyes, and repetitive vomiting.

    While a CT scan is fast and highly effective in detecting brain bleeding, brain swelling, and skull fractures, it is not effective in detecting a concussion because a concussion affects how the brain works. A concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) results in microscopic injury to axons (or nerve fibers) not visible on a CT scan. The chemical and electrical changes occurring deep inside the brain that disrupt brain function after concussion are imperceptible on a CT scan.

    The disruption of brain function that occurs after mTBI is invisible on a CT scan. A CT scan is expensive, not always practical, or possible, and exposes patients to radiation, which is thought to be especially harmful to children. In fact, children must meet higher symptom criteria before a CT scan is administered. The use of a CT scan is preferably avoided after a head injury unless a more serious injury including a brain bleed or skull fracture is suspected.

    Florida personal injury attorney, Jim Dodson is a legal expert in brain injuries. He has over 25 years experience successfully representing brain injury victims. Our law firm welcomes the opportunity to answer your questions and give you guidance on what can be done to help you. Give us a call at 888-815-6398 to schedule a time to discuss your accident case. There is never a fee for a consultation.

  • What is the Best Scan for Diagnosing an Acute Concussion?

    A mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), or commonly known as concussion, is a clinical diagnosis; no single test can definitively confirm the diagnosis of an acute concussion. A clinical diagnosis means that a physician or other qualified healthcare professional will make a diagnosis based on the history of the injury, the patient’s signs and symptoms, and a physical exam. There is no best scan for diagnosing an acute concussion. In fact, concussions are routinely diagnosed in emergency departments and urgent care centers without a brain scan.

    A concussion does not result in large structural changes to the brain visible on traditional scans such as MRI and CT scan. A concussion triggers chemical and electrical changes in the brain. While these changes often result in widespread disruption of function days, weeks, or even months later, even the most sensitive MRI and CT scans currently available will not detect the chemical and electrical changes that occur in the concussed brain.  Additionally, scans are expensive, sometimes not readily available, and in the case of a CT scan, expose the patient to unnecessary radiation. For these reasons, scans are not routinely performed during an assessment of a suspected concussion. A CT scan may be used in ER settings to determine whether there is active bleeding within the skull which can be an emergency situation requiring surgery. However, most such CT scans are normal.

    If a concussion is suspected, it is important to be evaluated by a qualified healthcare professional who is knowledgeable in diagnosing and treating concussions. A proper evaluation and diagnosis of concussion is the first step in an individual’s progress after injury.

    If you or someone you know has experienced a concussion from a car accident, a bike crash, a fall, or any other event caused by the negligence of someone else, you should discuss the circumstances with an experienced brain injury attorney.

  • Why Would the Emergency Room Diagnose Concussion Without a CT Scan or MRI?

    A mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) or commonly known as concussion is a clinical diagnosis; there is no single test to definitively confirm the diagnosis of concussion. Doctors assess the history of the patient’s injury, the patient’s symptoms, and perform a physical examination. In the vast majority of mTBI cases, a CT scan finds no abnormality or visible signs of injury. Even the most sensitive CT scanners are not able to detect the changes that occur deep within the brain following a concussion. Also, CT scans are expensive, not always practical, or possible, and expose patients to radiation (which can elevate cancer risks).  For these reasons, a CT scan is not routinely performed during a concussion assessment. An ER physician may order a CT scan of the brain however, to rule out a brain bleed or a skull fracture that may need emergency surgery as sometimes seen with a direct blow to the head. But otherwise, a CT scan is unnecessary for many people and avoided if possible.

    Like CT scans, a traditional MRI will not detect the subtleties of a concussion in the ER. A traditional MRI can detect large structural damage of the brain in more severe head injuries but are often not helpful in making the initial diagnosis of concussion. MRIs are expensive (costing twice as much as a CT scan) and can take up to two hours to complete making them an impractical diagnostic tool for a suspected concussion in the ER. MRIs are more often used to rule something out like a brain breed or brain swelling. Health care providers may use newer, more specialized MRIs or a functional MRI weeks or months after the initial concussion diagnosis to evaluate how well the brain is functioning in patients with ongoing symptoms. Commonly brain damage occurs over time following the initial injury. MRI is used after the passage of time to see if the damage has become extensive enough to be detected by MRI, following progression of the damage to neurons and surrounding tissues.

    If you or your loved one has suffered a brain injury following a Florida accident you should speak with our legal expert on brain injuries, attorney Jim Dodson. He has over 25 years experience successfully representing brain injury victims and can answer all your questions. Give us a call at 888-815-6398 to schedule a time to discuss your accident case. There is never a fee for a consultation.

  • What is a Concussion?

    Brain Injury Concussion Jim Dodson LawContrary to what many people believe, a concussion is not simply a “bruise” to the brain after bumping the head.  A concussion is actually a traumatic brain injury. They are caused when the head is hit or hits something which results in the brain to rapidly accelerating inside the skull. When the rapidly moving skull comes to an abrupt stop, the momentum of the brain causes it to strike the inside of the skull with great force. This all happens very rapidly, but far from being just a quick event, it initiates processes deep within the brain tissue which may last a lifetime. Traumatic brain injury attorney, Jim Dodson has helped many people who have suffered brain injuries over the last 25 years.

    What Happens Inside The Brain Following A Concussion?

    The brain is a highly-organized, extremely complex, and powerful command center of the human body.  It governs our emotions, thoughts, memories, learning, intelligence, creativity, movement, speech, our senses and so much more.  Its capabilities are amazing.  But it is very fragile.  The brain is soft and delicate and has a Jell-O-like consistency.  Inside the brain are billions of neurons, which communicate signals over long-spindly structures, called axons.  The smooth and uninterrupted transmission of these signals over the axons is vital to the brain’s ability to properly control our bodies.  

    The skull serves to protect the brain from external blows to the head, but when the head or torso is subjected to a sudden force or jolt, the brain forcefully shifts and moves inside the skull, causing the neurons and axons to stretch and even tear. When an axon is torn, it not only disrupts the brain’s ability to communicate its vital signals, but also causes the death of surrounding neurons from toxins which are released when the destroyed axons begin to degrade and deteriorate. 

    What Are The Symptoms Of A Concussion?

    Symptoms of many concussions are immediately visible. Sometimes, however, they become apparent much later. Typical concussion symptoms that appear immediately include headache, confusion, disorientation, loss of consciousness, amnesia about how the injury occurred, dizziness, and others.  Symptoms that can occur later include depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, fatigue, visual disturbances, problems with concentration and attention, memory problems, sleep disturbances, as well as changes in mood and behavior.

    How Long Does It Take A Concussion To Heal?

    Each brain is unique, and each injury is unique.  There are also different levels of concussion severity (from mild to severe).  The average complete healing time for a concussion is typically 2-3 months according to scientific literature.  Getting appropriate medical care, following physician’s orders, and protecting yourself from receiving another concussion while healing from an initial concussion, are crucial to the healing process.  But sometimes, despite our best efforts, concussion symptoms can last well beyond the “normal” healing period.  In fact, people can suffer these symptoms for months or even years after the event.  Suffering concussion symptoms beyond the time that is considered “normal” is called Post-Concussion Syndrome (or PCS).  PCS is a serious medical condition that wreaks havoc on a person’s daily life – interfering with work, social life, school, hobbies, and personal relationships. Persistent post-concussion syndrome may be considered a permanent injury and its effects may ripple throughout one’s life.

    Have You Or A Loved One Suffered A Concussion Due To Negligence?

    If you or a loved one have suffered a concussion due to negligence you need to speak with an experienced brain injury attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

  • How Can An MRI Be Used To Diagnose My Brain Injury?

    MRI MachineMagnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tests are used to create pictures of the brain (and other parts of the body) without the need for invasive procedures. There are many ways MRIs can help doctors diagnose, evaluate and monitor brain injuries because they give detailed information that does not show up on CT scans or X-rays.

    In a standard MRI (whether open, closed or wide-bore) you lay still on the table throughout the entire test. This allows doctors to see the structure of your brain. A contrast material is used in some instances to emphasize certain parts of the brain more clearly. Different contrasts do different things - some show blood flow, others show infections or tumors - depending on why you are having an MRI.

    Different MRIs Serve Different Purposes

    Functional MRIs or fMRIs help doctors visualize brain function as you perform certain activities. For example, you may be asked to tap your fingers, speak or listen. As you do each activity a different part of your brain will light up. This allows doctors to evaluate how your brain has been affected by injury or trauma.

    A special type of MRI called Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) or diffusion MRI shows how water travels along the white matter in your brain. White matter works like telephone wires to transmit communication between different parts of the brain. Sometimes when the white matter is damaged, information will reroute and find a new way to relay the messages within the brain. Other times, the messages are completely lost along the pathway. Because white matter is made up of axons, DTI allows doctors to detect axonal damage (often referred to as diffuse axonal injury) based on abnormal pathways and microbleeds. Standard MRIs do not provide this degree of detail.

    3D MRIs allow doctors to rotate the brain and visualize the many parts of the brain in relation to one another. They are better for monitoring growth of tumors and cysts and examining blood flow in many directions. This makes them better for visualizing the intricacies of the brain with its many tiny parts. 3D MRIs are created by taking 2D slices from various angles and combining the pieces to form a single 3D image of the brain.

    MRIs can help doctors determine the cause of headaches, diagnose a stroke, check for water in the brain, check and monitor tumors, cysts and infections, and check for symptoms of head injuries. DTI and fMRIs allow doctors to see beyond the structure of the brain and tissue to see how injuries are actually impacting your cognitive functions. In many serious brain cases, you may have the fMRI and the diffusion MRI done at the same time so your doctors can combine the data and get the most accurate picture of your brain functions and impairment. This allows them to create more specific treatment plans and better monitor your progress.

    Medical Malpractice In Brain Injury Diagnosis

    In order to have a legitimate medical malpractice claim, your surgeon or doctor had to have been grossly negligent in reading and understanding the results of your MRI. 

    Also, a medical malpractice case must have a witness, an expert in the medical field or related area, that is willing to testify on your behalf. Without one there is no chance of trying, let alone winning, your case.

    There is a huge misconception regarding the simplistic nature of winning a medical malpractice claim. There is a lot at stake for the doctor or surgeon making a medical malpractice case very, very complex. They are not going to simply settle in order to keep the case from going to court. Accusations of medical malpractice can ruin a medical care practitioner's reputation and career. They will be more than willing to go to court in order to protect their themselves and definitely don't take medical malpractice accusations lightly. If you don't have a claim of negligence that can be proven you simply don't have a medical malpractice claim.

    A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help If You've Suffered a Brain Injury

    Traumatic head and brain injuries can leave someone with a lifetime of potentially serious side effects, and sadly, a full recovery isn't always possible for everyone. Learn more about the long term effects of brain injuries in this free guidebook: The Layman's Guide to Brain Injuries. It may be possible to recover compensation for your injury, but you'll need a personal injury attorney with experience handling brain injury claims. Jim Dodson is just such an attorney. Serving all of Florida from several offices, Jim will fight for your rights if you've suffered a brain injury.

    Have You Suffered A Brain Injury Due To An Accident?

    If you've suffered a brain injury following an accident you should speak with an experienced brain injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

  • What is a SPECT Scan and How is it Used to Diagnose a Brain Injury?

    Doctor Looking at a SPECT ScanSPECT scans are extremely useful in the diagnosis process because they allow doctors to see blood flow inside your body. This is essential when it comes to diagnosing brain injuries because each part of the brain handles different cognitive functions and tasks. SPECT scans help identify problem areas in the brain based on blood flow because damaged brain tissue typically uses less blood than healthy tissue.

    SPECT Scans Allow Doctors to Monitor Blood Flow Within the Brain

    You will receive a radioactive tracer shortly before the scan. The tracer stays in your blood, lighting it up for the scanner. Areas of the brain with heavier blood flow show up as darker colors while areas with less blood flow show up lighter and brighter on the images. By monitoring blood flow within the brain, doctors can spot areas with less than normal blood flow and compare them with your symptoms to locate the damaged part of your brain and diagnose your injury.

    SPECT scans are more sensitive to brain injury than both MRI and CT scans, while the cost is roughly the same as an MRI. Often, lesions apparent on an MRI or CT scan show up much smaller than the same lesion when viewed on a SPECT scan. In cases where you have a ‘normal’ reading on an MRI or CT scan but are still suffering from serious brain damage, a SPECT scan is more likely to identify the problem. Because standard MRIs and CT scans show the structure of the brain and not the functions, they are limited in their findings of nerve damage.

    As a matter of fact, we are currently helping a client with a brain injury who had a negative MRI and soft tissue swelling on a CT, but upon having a SPECT scan was found to have multiple abnormalities and areas of decreased blood flow. Among other side effects, he is suffering from short term memory loss, depression, narcolepsy and blurred vision.

    Many recent studies urge the importance of SPECT scans done on people with brain injuries because of the known limitations of other imaging tests.

    If You've Suffered a Brain Injury, and Attorney May Be Able to Help Your Recovery Process

    Brain injuries are often serious, and can have significant long term effects on health and well being. If you or someone you know has suffered head trauma, you may benefit from speaking with experienced brain injury attorney Jim Dodson. We have offices throughout central Florida, and are headquartered in Clearwater to provide accident victims the best possible representation. Learn more about the true consequences of traumatic brain injuries by downloading our free guidebook The Layman's Guide to Brain Injuries, or request a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 727-446-0840 today.

  • How Can a CT or CAT Scan Be Used to Diagnose My Brain Injury?

    Brain CT Scan

    CT scans are the most commonly used imaging tests. They are a series of X-ray images taken one slice at a time and combined to form images more detailed than a traditional X-ray. They are invaluable in the diagnoses of acute and life threatening problems and often used in emergency rooms when someone arrives with a head injury. They are superior to MRIs for viewing changes in the structure of the brain such as hemorrhages, lesions, subdural hematomas, and temporal bone, skull and face fractures.

    CT Scans Are Not Perfect at Diagnosing Brain Injuries

    However, they can miss signs of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) for various reasons. The findings on CT scans sometimes lag behind the actual injury if the test is performed too soon after the trauma, leading doctors to underestimate the extent of the injury. Damaged axons, which manage the transfer of information within the brain, are microscopic in size but the CT scanner doesn’t reproduce microscopic details so they often go unseen. CTs can also miss small amounts of blood because the images are taken one slice at a time and later combined. If a blood pool or other abnormality is smaller than the width of a slice, 5 to 10 mm generally, it may not show up on the images.

    I recently learned of a case where a brain bleed was not discovered until months after the accident even though the patient had a CT of the brain done immediately. It went undetected until the bleeding had gotten severe enough to affect that person’s balance and required a follow up scan.

    Even though CT scans miss certain things, they remain the prominent choice of doctors for immediate diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries for their quickness and accuracy in detecting life threatening conditions. A CT scan only takes about 15 minutes (or 30 minutes if contrast is used) to complete the test and be of use for doctors. For someone suffering from a stroke or aneurysm where time is crucial, the CT is a life saver.

    In Certain Circumstances, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) May Be More Accurate and Effective

    The story changes two to three days after trauma when MRI becomes more accurate at detecting slight abnormalities in the brain than CT scans. As blood ages it becomes denser and can look more like tissue on a CT. MRI scanners do not rely on density, but instead on magnetic charges and radio waves, so the changing composition of the blood does not impair the results.

    When looking at the results of a CT scan you will see a grayscale image of the brain. The lighter in color something is, the denser the tissue, fluid or bone is. So, your skull will show up as white and the brain tissue will show up as different shades of gray with any gas or air appearing the darkest. Doctors use these shades to determine which areas are ‘not normal,’ such as a lesion, fluid, air or another mass in the brain instead of standard brain matter.

    CT scans are undeniably vital in the diagnoses of potentially lethal injuries. They exist to rule out and diagnose problems that need to be treated immediately. Keep in mind, a ‘negative’ or ‘normal’ CT scan does not conclusively mean there is no brain damage, particularly when the patient has suffered a concussion or loss of consciousness. It is crucial that caregivers and patients carefully monitor and report any physical signs of brain injury (memory loss, balance issues, confusion, etc.) to a physician for a follow-up examination.

    Misconception Regarding Brain Injury Medical Malpractice

    It's important to note, to have a legitimate medical malpractice claim, your surgeon or doctor had to have been grossly negligent. This means they had to have completely misread or ignored the fundamental findings of your CT scan.

    Have You Suffered A Brain Injury Due To An Accident?

    If you've suffered a brain injury following an accident you should speak with an experienced brain injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

  • I Had A Serious Concussion But The MRI Came Back Negative. What Does this Mean?

    The results of an MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging test, while very thorough, don't show every injury in the brain. A ‘normal’ result cannot single-handedly rule out brain trauma.

    In some instances, the MRI test may have been performed too soon. The effects of serious concussions are not always immediately apparent. For example, if you have a slow bleed in the brain after an injury, but were given an MRI right away, there may not have been enough blood to cause concern in your results at the time of the test. A follow up MRI taken days or weeks later may show a totally different brain.

    In other cases, the MRI doesn’t have the power to see the injuries. The standard MRI scanners used in most ERs can detect blood and lesions as small as 1 millimeter. That sounds really small, but the brain has a lot of even smaller parts. Persons with diffuse axonal injuries often don’t show any indicators of brain injury on an MRI test because the axons in the brain are so tiny (one thousand times smaller than a millimeter) the tests can’t even detect them.

    The brains of people with Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Schizophrenia, and Parkinson ’s disease would all appear to be normal based on MRI or CT imaging, but we can all agree there is something wrong in those brains.

    Simply put, a negative MRI does not mean you don’t have any brain damage. If you are experiencing symptoms of a serious concussion or brain injury after an accident, speak to your doctor about your concerns.  Please note, to have a legitimate medical malpractice claim, your surgeon or doctor had to have been grossly negligent, completely misreading your MRI.

    Have you suffered a serious brain injury? You need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.  Jim Dodson Law is here to help. Contact us online or call us directly at 888.815.6398. We will be happy to answer any questions during your free consultation.

    Have You Suffered A Brain Injury Due To An Accident?

    If you've suffered a brain injury following an accident you should speak with an experienced brain injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.