Brain Injury Frequently Asked Questions

Brain Injury Frequently Asked Questions –

By Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.

Call me at 800-992-9447

There may not be an easy answer to your brain injury frequently asked questions. All brain injuries are unique, making many of the questions unique.   That is why we encourage you to call our office at 1-800-992-9447.   There are common themes to many brain injury. We have not limited our treatment of those themes to this page on brain injury frequently asked questions.  We have tried to cover the major themes elsewhere. Many of our answers to brain injury frequently asked questions will reference other places within that those issues are addressed.

Yet my paralegal Jayne and have heard many of the same questions often.   If you don’t feel comfortable calling and asking us these questions personally, we hope this page will help.

What does it mean to be restless and agitated?

Agitation refers to extreme behavior, including restlessness, big mood swings, aggressiveness, and taking action without thinking about what one is doing first. Agitation can begin during the early stages of brain injury recovery, when an individual is not fully conscious or when cognition (thinking skills) is impaired. Past researchers have suspected that agitation may interfere with the rehabilitation process and result in less than desired outcomes for recovery. Individuals with traumatic brain injury and agitation are more likely to be discharged to facilities that can provide constant supervision than to home

I just hit my head.  Should I seek treatment?

Going to the hospital after hitting your head can mean the difference between life and death.  But how do you know when to go?  The answer is that when in doubt, go to the hospital immediately.  Not later. Go now.  The hospital is the only place that has a CT scanner that can determine if there is any bleeding in your brain.  Bleeding in your brain is a life-threatening situation. You may look fine on the outside, but on the inside there is a small chance that slow bleeding could be taking place.

I received a brain injury at work?  What should I do?

If you are injured at work, immediately report the accident to your employer and seek medical treatment from an employer authorized doctor.

The law often says that employers must pay for all medical care related to the accident, so they control which doctors you may see. If you decide to go to your own doctor you’ll be responsible for the bills. In limited circumstances, an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will authorize a doctor of your choice. The earlier you make the request the more likely the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier will authorize a doctor of your choice.

See also our treatment of third party claims here.

Is it possible for a brain injury to not show up on an MRI?

Although most people with severe TBI will have an abnormality on a CT scan or MRI scan, it is possible to have a severe TBI and be in coma even though the scan results are normal. This is because the scan cannot detect all the types of injury that can occur to the brain.

I have severe headaches after hitting my head.  Is this a brain injury?

The literature agrees that headache after concussion is probably the most common symptom after brain injury.

To see more here about headache after concussion click here .

I just had my second concussion.  Why is this so much worse than my first concussion?

A second concussion that occurs before your brain recovers from the first – usually within a short period of time (hours, days or weeks) – can slow recovery or increase the likelihood of having long-term problems. In rare cases, repeat concussions can result in brain swelling, permanent brain damage and even death.

I was in a car accident.   Why do I have so much trouble remembering what happened?

Delayed amnesia is a more significant indicator of injury severity than amnesia which only lasts a few seconds. More information on delayed amnesia can be found by clicking here 

How long is the recovery time for severe brain injury?

How fast people recover from brain injury varies from person to person. Although most people have a good recovery, how quickly they improve depends on many factors….how severe their concussion was, what part of the brain was injured, their age, and how healthy they were before the concussion.

Rest is very important after a concussion because it helps the brain to heal. You’ll need to be patient because healing takes time. Return to your daily activities, such as work or school, at your own pace. As the days go by, you can expect to gradually feel better.

If you already had a medical problem at the time of your concussion, it may take longer for you to recover from your brain injury. Anxiety and depression may also make it harder to adjust to the symptoms of brain injury.

I am veteran with a TBI.  Can you help me?

Yes, we can.  Please see our website for Veteran’s with Brain Injury at Veterans Brain Injury

My son was hit playing football tonight and he hit his head on the turf very hard.  He is not in a coma but wants to sleep. When is it safe to let him sleep?

Make sure that your child goes to the Emergency Room and gets the proper evaluation for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Assuming the ER takes the brain injury seriously, they will give you detailed instructions on when to wake someone.  If they don’t, make a fuss.

Is a stroke different than a TBI?

Yes, it is.  A TBI (traumatic brain injury) is an injury to the brain caused by an external force after birth. Common causes of a traumatic brain injury include gunshot wounds, motor vehicle crashes, assaults, or falling and striking your head.

An ABI (acquired brain injury) includes all types of traumatic brain injuries and also brain injuries caused after birth by cerebral vascular accidents (commonly known as stroke), and loss of oxygen to the brain (hypoxic brain injury).

Where can I find a Brain Injury Support Group in my area?

Please call our office at 1-800-992-9447.  We will be happy to assist you in finding a local support group in your area. 

Why do I have no memory of being in the ER the next morning following a fall with a hit to the back of my head the evening before?

Delayed amnesia is a more significant indicator of injury severity than amnesia which only lasts a few seconds. More information on delayed amnesia can be found by clicking here.

Where is the best  Brain Injury Rehabilitation facility?

The question that really needs to be asked is “what is the best rehabilitation program that will meet the needs of my loved one.”

Brain injury can result in a wide range of issues post injury. There is no one program that has expertise in all the potential challenges of a brain injury. Some programs may have expertise in motor and swallowing issues post injury, while others offer expertise in behavioral and psychiatric issues post injury.

A resource to use is the Brain Injury Association’s Guide to Selecting and Monitoring Brain Injury Rehabilitation Services. The bottom line is, you want a program with experience working with brain injury, and can meet the needs of your family member. Use the Guide, and ask questions. Keep in mind that family members are the only ones in the rehabilitation process that knew the person with a brain injury before the injury. This insight can be valuable in deciding the best match for rehabilitation services. .

How do I find a Brain Injury Attorney?

We are able to assist you in your search for a brain injury attorney.  Please call our office and speak with Jayne at 1-800-992-9447.

What is the Rancho Scale?

The Rancho Los Amigos Scale is most helpful in assessing the patient in the first weeks or months following an injury, because it does not require cooperation from the patient. These Rancho Levels are based on observations of the patient’s response to external stimuli. They provide a descriptive guideline of the various stages a brain injury patient will experience as he/she progresses through recovery.  Click here for the eight levels 

How long after a TBI do you qualify for disability?

You don’t have to be disabled for any length of time before you apply for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or SSI disability benefits. You are eligible for SSD or SSI benefits as soon as you stop being able to do substantial work. In most cases, Social Security defines substantial work as making $1,040 per month (but the rules are different for self-employed and blind persons.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement that you be off work for six months or a year before you can apply for or collect disability benefits. You can apply for disability when you are let go because of your medical condition — or when you realize you are disabled and can’t go back to work. That said, you must be expected to not be able to work for at least one year (or have an illness that is likely to result in your death) to qualify for Social Security or SSI disability (this is called the durational requirement).

The SSDI program does have a five-month waiting period, starting from the established onset date of disability, during which you won’t receive benefits.

The social security process after brain injury is described here   

Can I drink after TBI?

Alcohol consumption is not recommended following a brain injury. Please consult your physician prior to drinking any amount of alcohol after a brain injury. Additional information about the risks associated with drinking, how to get help with problems with alcohol and other drug use and abuse may be found at the links below.

The Brain Injury Association’s substance abuse and brain injury booklet.

I had brain surgery about a month ago due to a bad fall which caused bleeding in the brain.  I am suffering from severe depression.  Is this normal?

Please see our page on Depression After Concussion and Brain Injury

I recently had a chiropractor adjust my neck and went into a vertigo spin and have been dizzy since that time.  What is causing this?  Can you help?

Yes, we may be able to help you.  Please call our office to discuss this very serious situation.  The force of chiropractic manipulation, especially in someone who has already weakened or sprained his or her neck in the accident, can cause  tearing of the vertebral artery. Since we see so many people with vertigo and dizziness, we commonly see people who have profound vertigo as a result of a tear to the vertebral artery.

Below are some unanswered Brain Injury Frequently Asked Questions. It may be that we are stumped. More likely the answer is too complicated to write down, more easy to explain on the phone.

I have a friend who was in a car accident about 30 years ago. He suffered a brain injury.  We are wondering if even after all these years, is there a way he can be helped in some way?

Where can I find help help in dealing on a day to day basis with the results of my husband’s brain injury?

Why do those with brain injuries have so much trouble with the law?

I have a history of TBI, concussions, head injuries, and confusion.  Can you help me?

Is TBI a permanent thing?

I had a traumatic brain injury in 2005, a subarachnoid brain bleed.  Is it possible that I can still have problems because of it?

If you have questions you want to add to our list, please add a comment. Hopefully our answer back will help.

Next – How Does the Brain Get Injured


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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  1. Elaine Schott
    Apr 09, 2014 @ 06:09:37

    My TBI was 4-28-85. I was 20 years old at the time. I was thrown from a vehicle and slid down an embankment. Coma for 10 days. Hospital/rehab for 2 months. I’ve had 30 plastic surgeries trying to put my face back together. I will turn 50 in 3 months and the past 30 years have been hell. Memory probs are still a major source of misery for me, and so are post traumatic headaches. I keep thinking they will go away, but I wake up with one almost every morning, and usually go to bed with one. I’ve had CT’s, MRI’s, and all kinds of tests trying to find out what is the cause of these. No luck. I’ve just given up. I guess my question is, since nothing can be found through these methods, am I crazy? To other people (my husband and family), since nothing medically can be found, I must be making it up. Please, please help me. I have been on disability for years because I can’t remember anything and had to miss so many days due to headache. I also have a family history of migraine headache. I had them before the accident as well. Thank you so much for your prompt attention to this matter.
    Elaine Schott


    • facebook-profile-picture Gordon Johnson
      Apr 09, 2014 @ 13:29:08

      There is nothing more difficult to prove in medical science than pain, yet doctors treat it all of the time. This is certainly true of headaches, as not even a migraine can be proven. (Topic for another blog post.) Despite that, there is something that is likely close to a $100 billion industry to treat migraine. The absence of a thingomometer to prove your post traumatic headaches should in no way indicate to anyone that your pain is not real.


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