It is one of the most devastating injuries New Jersey residents can suffer: traumatic brain injury. It’s also a serious public health problem all across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains a TBI is caused by a jolt, bump or blow to the head. It can also be the result of an intrusive injury that disrupts brain function.

Many people suffer mild concussions, especially sports participants. These are technically traumatic brain injuries, but the brief change in mental status or consciousness usually has no long-term impact on health. Every bump doesn’t result in a TBI. An injury causing a long period of unconsciousness or amnesia is categorized as severe.

Statistics show that about 1.7 million people suffer this type of trauma every year in the United States, based on 2006 numbers. Approximately 52,000 die, 275,000 are admitted to hospitals, and nearly 80 percent are treated in emergency rooms and later released. Falls are the leading cause, with the elderly at the highest risk and most likely to need hospitalization. Motor vehicle accidents, however, are the leading cause of TBI-related fatalities. Historically, rates are highest for 20- to 24-year-olds.

After a head injury is treated through the acute stabilization period, rehabilitation becomes the focus. Long-term care leading to eventual recovery requires a broad range of specialists and treatment processes. It’s a team approach that is generally most beneficial to a patient, and very often it requires months of inpatient care in a rehabilitative health facility.

Permanent disability can result from traumatic brain injury. There is a wide spectrum of affectations from simple memory problems to needing a ventilator to breathe. Neuropsychologists deal with thinking processes and physical therapists help with physical needs. A vast array of specialists handle every physical aspect of recovery, striving to create the most improved life possible for that particular patient.

When a TBI can be attributed to someone else’s negligence or mistake, there is much for families to consider. It’s this type of possible life-long need that can benefit from careful consideration of how best to seek compensation from those responsible.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Traumatic Brain Injury” accessed Jan. 22, 2015