The senseless shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011 has unfortunately recently brought the topic of traumatic brain injury into the forefront of national discussion. As Ms. Giffords continues to slowly and steadily improve, we are learning about the most recent scientific breakthroughs in the understanding and treatment of brain injuries.

For example, it was long widely assumed that an injury which actually penetrated the skull and displaced brain tissue was a fatal injury. While many times such an insult does cause death, the structure of the structure of the brain actually makes it possible for a person with such an injury to regain some, or much, of their brain function.

As scientists learn more and more about the brain, they have come to realize that as we develop and mature, different parts of our brains make neurologic connections so that we can function. It appears that no two set of connections are exactly the same from person to person. Similarly, following an injury to the brain, different individual brains may be able to “re-wire” the connections in order to regain function. This largely depends upon how the individual was “wired” pre-injury, the specific parts of the brain that were injured, and the capacity of the healthy parts of the brain.

Even so, individuals who can achieve some return of function rarely regain a “normal” life. Many victims of traumatic brain injury suffer from epileptic and other seizures for the rest of their lives. Even more patients will suffer the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder — depression, anxiety, withdrawal, and worse.

Still others will be plagued by what are known as “white matter” symptoms such as problems maintaining attention, memory, and social processing. These problems often manifest themselves by making it very difficult for the patient to return to work, perform high-level thinking, and to navigate or get along socially.

Meanwhile, injuries behind the forehead can disrupt an injured person’s ability to make plans, respond to social cues, and regulate impulsive behavior. For many brain injury patients who make a successful cosmetic recovery, these lingering problems can often be the most devastating as they continue on their journey through life.

Orlando accident attorneys Kim Michael Cullen & Robert Hemphill have had the privilege of representing victims of traumatic brain injuries. If you have any questions about accidents that lead to brain injuries, call Kim and Bob at 407-644-4444.

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