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Bob Saget’s Tragic Death Forces an Important Conversation on Head Trauma

Bob Saget’s Tragic Death Forces an Important Conversation on Head Trauma Everyone was devastated when news of Bob Saget’s death surfaced. The 65-year-old actor and comedian’s death was so abrupt and unexpected. Even more devastating was the cause behind Saget’s death. According to family members, Saget bumped the back of his head against something and initially thought nothing of it. Sadly, he went to sleep and never woke up. A medical examiner reported that there were fractures around the back of Saget’s head and around his eyes at the time of his death. What Saget wrote off as a bump turned out to be a devastating injury.

What the brain experiences during a head injury

When force is applied to the skull, the brain can be impacted in several ways. It can physically hit the walls of the skull, leading to bruising and bleeding within the brain. The brain may rotate within the skull, stretching and tearing axons, which are essentially the wires that connect neurons (this is called a diffuse axonal injury). The skull can be physically penetrated by an object. Sometimes the most consequential damage done to the brain during a head injury is caused by swelling. Because the brain is contained in a hard skull, it cannot expand anywhere as it swells. This causes pressure to increase inside the skull, potentially directly damaging brain tissue and may reduce the flow of oxygen to the brain, which causes more damage.

How common are head and brain injuries?

Sadly, Bob Saget’s situation is common for many Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are an estimated 1.5 million people who suffer from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year. From that 1.5 million, there are 50,000 people who die, and another 80,000 to 90,000 people who endure long-term effects of a TBI.

Groups who are most at risk of succumbing to TBIs

People at any age are at risk for head injury. However, there are specific groups of people who are more prone to traumatic brain injuries. The CDC reports that young adults, adolescents, and elderly people over the age of 75 are most at risk of developing a TBI. With adolescents and young adults, motor vehicle accidents and acts of violence are the leading causes of TBIs. With people over the age of 75, falls are the leading cause of TBIs.

Other “groups” who may be at risk of sustaining a fatal brain injury include:

  • People under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • People who play contact sports
  • Workers who are required to use ladders, scaffolds, or heavy machinery like cherry pickers
  • Construction workers who use explosives in demolition
  • Members of the armed forces

What are the symptoms of a TBI?

The symptoms of a TBI can vary based on the severity of the injury. If a person experiences a mild head injury like a concussion, according to the Mayo Clinic, he or she can experience symptoms like:

  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Problems with speech
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Light sensitivity
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Changes in sleeping patterns

If a person experiences a severe TBI from a skull fracture or other head injury, he or she can experience symptoms like:

·       Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours

·       Persistent headache or headache that worsens

·       Repeated vomiting or nausea

·       Convulsions or seizures

·       Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes

·       Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears

·       Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes

·       Loss of coordination

·       Profound confusion

·       Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior

·       Slurred speech

·       Inability to awaken from sleep

What makes traumatic brain injuries so catastrophic?

Traumatic brain injuries are catastrophic because of the long-term consequences victims can endure. Severe brain trauma can lead to coma, vegetative states, and brain death. In some cases, it can render a person unable to care for him or herself at all. Some people will need help feeding or bathing themselves, or lose the ability to walk and/or talk. Some may need to be placed in residential care programs just to ensure they get the medical support they need.

But even “minor” traumatic brain injury (mTBI) can be devastating. mTBI is often not diagnosed or brushed off as “only a concussion.” But a concussion is brain damage. Some mTBI’s heal completely (although with risk of devastating consequences if the person suffers another concussion in the future). But some mTBI’s never heal, and can cause personality changes, loss of emotional intelligence, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, irritability – the list goes on and on.  mTBI can happen even without a direct impact to the head or loss of consciousness, most frequently with diffuse axonal injuries.

As in the case of Bob Saget, many victims of TBIs who experience a “bump” to the head underestimate the damage that has occurred and may continue to worsen over time. Brain injuries can be insidious.

Seeking immediate medical care for head trauma

Medical professionals recommend that anyone who endures trauma to the head seek immediate medical attention. Even if the person experienced what they believe to be a mild head injury, medical professionals advise victims to err on the side of caution and seek immediate medical attention. The internal damage that the brain has endured may not be as noticeable to the victim. Medical professionals can use tests like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)s and computed tomography (CT) scans to show more accurate photos of a brain, which can detect changes in its makeup.

If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury, it is imperative that you speak with experienced Phoenix injury lawyers. Contact Plattner Verderame, PC, today to talk with one of our attorneys about your legal options following a catastrophic brain injury. We handle these cases on a contingency-fee basis, so there is no need to worry about upfront costs. You owe us nothing unless we obtain a verdict or settlement on your behalf. Call our office at 602-266-2002 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.