According to Brain Injury Alliance Colorado, more than 500,000 state residents live with the effects of brain injuries. Unlike some injuries that heal overtime, damaged brain cells typically don’t recover, which can lead to a variety of problems including memory loss, physical disability or impairment, and poor general health.
Nearly 2 million new brain injuries are suffered by Americans each year. In this post, we take a closer look at brain injuries in Colorado and where victims can get help to pay for medical expenses, rehabilitation programs, and community support services.
How Do Brain Injuries Happen in Colorado?
Brain injuries are not heredity conditions or congenital diseases. Instead, brain injuries are acquired through causes such as stroke, aneurysm, lack of oxygen to the brain, or from outside trauma, commonly known as traumatic brain injury (TBI).
In Colorado, traumatic brain injuries are commonly the result of:
Brain injuries don’t discriminate based on age, gender, race, or economic status. Throughout some of Colorado’s most populous counties—Jefferson, Douglas, Arapahoe, Adams, Clear Creek, Denver, Broomfield, Boulder, and Gilpin—brain injuries affect males and females at approximately the same rate and there is little distinction in statewide brain injury rates by race, according to data published by Brain Injury Alliance Colorado.
In Colorado, the ages most susceptible to traumatic incident are fairly consistent, with spikes in children between the ages of 0 and 4, teens ages 15 to 19, and adults over the age of 65.
In a report by Colorado Public Radio, Boulder-based writer and mountain bike enthusiast Marc Peruzzi considers why the risk of TBI has increased in recent years: “We’ve changed how we approach our sports,” Peruzzi said. “We take bigger lines and we ride a lot faster… And it’s not just the gravity-assisted sports, like skiing and mountain biking; it’s also road biking.”
Different Types of Brain Injuries
According to MINDSOURCE, the state agency tasked with funding case management services for Colorado TBI survivors, 950 deaths, 5,200 hospitalizations, and 27,000 emergency department visits related to TBI occur in Colorado each year.
Falls and traffic accidents are the most common causes of brain injuries in Colorado. Recently, however, there’s been an uptick in accidents resulting in TBI linked to behavioral health conditions including substance abuse and mental illness.
There are three broad categories used to define a brain injury: mild, moderate, and severe. Mild brain injuries are often referred to as concussions. Concussions are minor brain injuries that don’t result in loss of consciousness. Conversely, moderate brain injuries may include loss of consciousness; and brain injuries that result in loss of consciousness for more than 24 hours are considered severe.
There are several different kinds of brain injuries that can occur:
- Concussion: These mild brain injuries are caused by a sudden jolt or blow to the head or neck, which can cause the brain to move inside the skull, stretching, twisting, or tearing brain cells or nerves.
- Contusion: The force of an impact can cause the brain to bleed internally, and surgery is sometimes required. This brain injury is commonly the result of blunt force trauma from impact, injury, of physical assault.
- Diffuse axonal: When the skull is shaken or rotated fast enough, brain tissue can shift inside the skull and damage sensitive nerve tissue. This injury is typical in cases of shaken baby syndrome or T-bone car accidents.
- Penetration: Also called an “open head injury,” penetration injuries are wounds in which an object or projectile penetrates the cranium but does not exit the head. Penetration head injuries are serious and may require emergency surgery.
- Cerebral anoxia: Brain cells without oxygen begin to die after about four minutes. Since blood carries oxygen to the brain, several causes including drowning, choking, and exposure to toxic fumes like carbon monoxide can impede blood flow and cause this type of brain injury.
Mild brain injuries typically resolve on their own within a few weeks. Patients may be instructed to avoid certain physical activities like working out to ensure a safe and speedy recover.
Moderate to severe brain injuries will require more time to heal and may also include surgery or other medical treatment.
Living with a Brain Injury in Colorado
The effects of a brain injury can impact physical and cognitive abilities alike. Every injury is different, so the way each patient is treated varies on a case-by-case basis.
When a brain injury is severe, executive brain functions, which process a large number of mental inputs simultaneously, may be restricted or impleaded altogether. This could affect a victim’s ability to have “normal” social interactions, manage his or her time effectively at work, or learn and remember new skills.
A person’s mood or behavior is also vulnerable to brain injuries. Irritability, depression, and lack of motivation are common behavioral shifts reported by family members and survivors. With training, therapy, and a robust support network, an injury victim may be able to reduce the impact of some of these emotional and behavioral challenges.
Not surprisingly, all of these things can impact a victim’s ability to work and preserve a standard of living, as well as maintain interpersonal relationships with family and friends.
Colorado Programs for Brain Injury Survivors
The short and long-term effects of a brain injury can have far-reaching implications for survivors and family members.
Colorado has several programs available to aid survivors, friends, and family with everything from medical expenses to community reintegration.
- BrainCare is a recovery program available at Rocky Mountain Health Care Services in Colorado Springs. This recovery program focuses on cognitive rehabilitation and preparing survivors for independent living.
- The Brain and Behavioral Clinic in Denver is a comprehensive neuropsychological practice offering expert diagnostic, assessment, treatment, and consulting services to survivors of all ages.
- Craig Hospital in Englewood is a leader in rehabilitation and outpatient treatment. This program features an interdisciplinary team of experts specialized in youth and adult TBIs.
- Brain Injury Alliance of Colorado is a useful information portal with resources covering a range of needs from obtaining legal counsel to survivor support groups.
These organizations and more are part of the Colorado Brain Injury Collaborative, a lifeline for victims and families struggling to adjust after a traumatic brain injury.
Depending on the circumstances that caused the brain injury, survivors and family members may also benefit from speaking with a Colorado personal injury attorney. Compensation may be available to pay for medical care, rehabilitation, ongoing therapy, as well as pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury that was caused by another’s negligence, please call The Frickey Law Firm at 303-237-7373 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.