Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Social Security Benefits

Definition of TBI

Traumatic brain injuries occur when your head is hit with blunt force. The force causes a disturbance in the normal functions of the brain. This upset can range from mild (usually referred to as a concussion) to severe with long-lasting, even permanent, damage.

Mild traumatic brain injuries can cause temporary impairments to the brain cells. As the brain injury gets more severe, the effects may become more serious and may include bruising or bleeding of the brain and torn brain tissue; these injuries can result in permanent damage or even death.

Victims of traumatic brain injuries might not know they’ve suffered one. The brain is the “master” of our bodies; it tells us what to do. If it is impaired, aspects of our behavior or personality could be altered even though we might not realize something is “off.”


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Mild Brain Injury (Concussion) Symptoms

A mild brain injury occurs when the victim experiences a loss of consciousness or disorientation for less than 30 minutes. Symptoms can be divided in to three different categories and may include:

  • Thoughts
    • Hard time thinking
    • Hard time concentrating
    • Hard time remembering
  • Physical
    • Light sensitivity
    • Fatigue
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Headache
    • Blurry vision
    • Ringing in ears
    • Trouble sleeping
  •  Emotional
    • Mood swings
    • Depression or anxiety
    • Irritability

These signs might be difficult to spot, but you should seek medical attention if you have:

  • Slurred speech
  • Headache that does not go away and/or gets worse
  • Loss of balance

Recovering from a concussion will be made easier with plenty of sleep and rest. As much as you can, try to avoid strenuous activity while recovering.

Moderate to Severe Brain Injury

A moderate to severe brain injury is diagnosed when the victim loses consciousness for more than 30 minutes and memory loss occurs that is more than 24 hours.

There are also two types of severe TBI: closed and penetrating. A closed TBI is when there is a head injury and the brain moves inside your skull. a penetrating TBI happens when a foreign object enters the skull.

The potential effects of severe TBI include a coma, amnesia, or a disability as a direct result of the trauma.

Symptoms can be divided in to three different categories and may include:

  • Thoughts
    • Serious confusion
    • Slurred speech
    • Coma
    • Anxious and agitated
  • Physical
    • Loss of balance
    • Numb and weak fingers and toes
    • Seizures
    • Chronic vomiting or nausea
    • Clear fluid coming from your nose or ears
    • Inability to wake up
    • Constant headache and/or worsening headache
  • Emotional
    • Dramatic change in moods

Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled statistics from 2006-2010 that detail the causes of traumatic brain injury. The leading causes are:

  • Slips and falls (40.5%)
  • Struck by an object (15.5%)
  • Car accidents (14.3%)
  • Assaults (10.7%)

Falls are more likely to affect people who are 65 years or older while car accidents tend to target people between 5 and 24 years old.

Treatment of TBI

For mild TBI, treatment is usually limited to rest and pain relievers. As the TBI gets more severe, doctors tend to prescribe medications, perform surgery, and recommend rehabilitation centers.

Medications that are commonly used for TBI include those that prevent seizures, diuretics (these help reduce pressure in the brain), and coma-inducing medications along with medical monitoring.

Surgery is generally needed when severe TBI may cause further damage to brain tissue. Surgery is recommended when blood clots occur in the brain, when the skull needs to be repaired, or when it is necessary to drain the cerebral spinal fluid to release pressure.

Rehabilitation will most likely be required for victims of TBI. Rehabilitation methods include seeing a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or recreational therapist.

Traumatic Brain Injuries and Social Security Disability Benefits

TBI is listed in the Social Security list of qualified impairments under cerebral trauma. It is listed under other impairments as well and the list offers general guidelines of what symptom requirements would be necessary for a disability claim.

The requirements include:

  • Epilepsy
  • Inability to use arms or legs (as a result of TBI)
  • Trouble communicating (as a result of TBI)
  • Trouble with the ability to think (as a result of TBI)

If your diagnosed traumatic brain disorder (TBI) does not meet the above standards, don’t dismiss your claim. If you feel that you cannot work your job (need constant breaks, can’t lift heavy objects, etc.) because of your injury, the SSA will consider your application.

Sources: MayoClinic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TraumaticBrainInjury.Com

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