Subtle Brain Injury

What is a subtle brain injury (SBI)?

Many of us suffer from a concussion at some point in our lives. Unfortunately, some people suffer from long-term effects and we call this a subtle brain injury. This can happen even if you don’t lose consciousness and it is different to other kinds of head injury cases. Your symptoms can be very subtle and occur over the first 72 hours so they aren’t always picked up by medical professionals and lawyers. You might not even realise that there’s a problem yourself at first.

After a subtle brain injury, it is usually friends and family who notice how a person has changed after their accident. They are usually the ones that notice differences to a person’s character or behaviour.

The reason these subtle brain injuries can be missed is that the incident/accident is often not violent in nature. SBI can occur from a shaking of the head, stretching or tearing the nerve fibres, and damaging the axons in the brain (known as diffuse axonal injury). This is also sometimes referred to and diagnosed as concussion.

What are the symptoms of subtle brain injury? These can include:-

  1. Physical symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, visual disturbances, noise sensitivity and difficulty with fine co-ordination;
  2. Emotional or behavioural symptoms such as anxiety or depression, loss of motivation, lack of insight, impulsive behaviour;
  3. Cognitive symptoms such as difficulties with short-term memory, word finding, learning new information, concentration, multi tasking, problem solving and working under pressure.
  4. Many people who are suffering from a subtle brain injury go on to develop psychological symptoms as well, which just compounds the situation. People tend to find themselves getting worse instead of getting better and sometimes feel like they are “going crazy” and that no-one will believe them.

If this sounds familiar, you need to talk to an experienced head injury solicitor used to identifying possible SBI. If you talk to solicitors who are not specialists, they focus on the physical symptoms such as the whiplash, and a SBI can often be overlooked. Sadly we sometimes talk to clients who feel that the professionals think they are exaggerating or malingering. To make matters worse, routine scans and tests will usually come back negative. You need to see specialist neurologists and neuro psychologists to identify the cause of your symptoms and whether there has been a SBI.

In addition, sometimes the vestibular system in the head has been damaged. Again such injuries are often missed unless examined by an appropriate and experienced expert. If you suffer from damage to your vestibular system (which is responsible for the body’s balance system) you might suffer from dizziness, nausea, difficulties with sight or sound as well as the other problems listed above for SBI.

The whole area of subtle brain injury is poorly understood, even in the medical profession. We see insurance companies defending these claims that will work vigorously to try and disprove the injured party, alleging fraud, exaggeration or dishonesty. Insurance companies have the resources to be able to strenuously defend these claims and usually do. It is vital therefore that you have an experienced solicitor acting for you, working with barristers and medical experts who also know about SBI.  Without this strong, expert team many of these SBI claims will fail with claimants facing a finding of fraud, dishonesty or exaggeration.

Debra Morris has worked on these types of cases for many years. She has achieved successful results and high levels of compensation for her clients. Whilst the effects of these injuries, often referred to as minor head injuries or concussion, can be at the more modest end of the spectrum seen in brain injury generally, – the consequences to an individual can be catastrophic. If someone’s SBI is undiagnosed and not recognised that person often tries to struggle on, sometimes for many months, before being unable to continue any longer.

Debra Morris has a fine eye for detail which is essential in these types of complex cases. She also has a passion for getting rehabilitation where possible at the earliest opportunity. The earlier these symptoms are diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome will be. More often than not there is no access to NHS rehabilitation for these types of injuries and symptoms can continue and worsen over time if you don’t get the help you need.

If you think you have a SBI please call Debra to see how Barratts can help.