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3 Reasons Brain Injuries Go Undiagnosed

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are serious and potentially life-threatening. They can cause hallucinations, mood disorders such as depression, paralysis, impaired cognitive function, memory loss, and more.

These symptoms can be treatable. If they are treated, the quality of life of TBI patients can be measurably improved.

But at times, TBIs go completely undiagnosed. Why? There are 3 reasons.

#1. They are misdiagnosed.

Because TBIs cause multiple symptoms, and symptoms are often how doctors arrive at a diagnosis, the symptoms may cause a misdiagnosis. Hallucinations, for example, can be caused by seizures whose ultimate cause was a TBI. But a patient may be diagnosed with epilepsy or mental illness like schizophrenia rather than a TBI.

In some cases, anti-seizure medication will effectively treat the symptoms. In others, however, the treatment may not work. A patient given treatment for mental illness whose actual problem is TBI-related seizures won’t be helped by the medication.

Diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia may have started with a TBI.

#2. Causal factors aren’t completely understood.

Despite the increasing attention paid to TBIs and their consequences, the general public still doesn’t fully understand the causal factors.

Most people know, for example, that concussions can cause traumatic brain injury. But repeated hits to the head may cause TBI, even when they aren’t sufficient to cause concussions. These kinds of hits, called “subconcussive”, are equally dangerous and need to be avoided in sports, for example. If they occur, a doctor should be consulted.

#3. The people who suffer from TBIs are homeless.

People in southern California know that we have a large homeless population. What’s less well known is that a surprisingly high percentage of homeless people have had a brain injury in the past sufficient to cause TBI. Studies in the U.S. and Canada have found that up to 67% of the homeless population studied experienced a significant head injury before they became homeless.

This correlation has only recently begun to be studied. But it’s important to know, because the very symptoms that contribute to making people homeless — inability to remember to pay bills on time, keep a job, anger management, and substance abuse — may stem at least partly from TBI. Traumatic brain injury can affect memory, functioning, cause pain and hallucinations that the person medicates with drugs, and cause anger issues.

Speak with an Experienced Los Angeles Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer

Traumatic brain injuries and their effects are very serious, and misdiagnosis or complete lack of diagnosis can hinder any possible recovery. Lack of understanding of the factors that cause TBI can mean that people don’t take proper precautions.

Patients with TBIs must deal with medical bills, long-term therapy, and may have a need for life-long care and specialized equipment. If you or a loved one has a diagnosed TBI or symptoms of one, contact an experienced traumatic brain injury lawyer in Los Angeles today. Contact Ellis Injury Law now at 1-800-INJURED for a discussion regarding your case. The initial consultation is always free.

Additional Resources:

  1. All in their head: Traumatic brain injuries often go undiagnosed, especially on the streets. Street Roots News. June 9, 2011. http://news.streetroots.org/2011/06/09/all-their-head-traumatic-brain-injuries-often-go-undiagnosed-especially-streets.
  2. Dangerous Head Injury May Go Unnoticed. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dangerous-head-injury-may-go-unnoticed/