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Proving the long-term complications of a traumatic brain injury

There are so many different ways that a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can manifest itself that no two victims are exactly alike -- nor are the long-term effects that they suffer.

That variance can sometimes present a problem in court when attorneys try to show a judge or jury exactly how someone's current problems connect to a TBI that occurred months or years before -- yet that's exactly what needs to be done in order for a victim to get the compensation that he or she deserves.

How, then, can a victim whose obvious physical injuries have healed prove the extent of his or her long-term problems from a TBI? Usually, it requires a combination of physical evidence and testimony:

-- Computed tomography (CT) scans are typically taken right after the injury and can provide a record of the early traumatic damage.

-- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tests are more sensitive than CT scans and are usually taken during the acute stage of injury. Subsequent MRIs might be used to show the jury areas of the brain that have healed and those that have not.

-- Neuropsychological assessments are performed by a highly-trained specialist who can measure a victim's attention span, memory, ability to concentrate, language skills, reasoning ability, abstract thinking, social judgement and fine motor skills and provide a clear understanding of his or her present condition.

-- The testimony of physical therapists, occupational therapists, cognitive therapists, speech pathologists and other medical professionals involved in the victim's care and recovery can help illustrate the victim's struggle and the adaptive techniques he or she has learned to cope with the effects of the TBI.

-- The testimony of a psychiatrist may be necessary to tie long-term issues like mood changes and depression to the TBI, so that the defense doesn't try to attribute those to an undiagnosed pre-existing condition.

-- The testimony of close relatives or friends can also help a jury understand how the victim has changed since suffering the TBI by painting a "before" and "after" picture of his or her behavior.

-- Finally, the testimony of the victim might be most convincing of all. Juries naturally want to hear directly from the victim in order to assess his or her credibility for themselves.

If you're concerned about how you can prove your injuries and connect them to a TBI, an attorney can help.

Source: Brain Injury Association of America, "Diagnosing Brain Injury," accessed March 24, 2017

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