Subtle Brain Injury or SBI

Lots of people experience a concussion at some point in their lives. Most of us are lucky enough to have a full recovery but, sadly, not everyone does. These people suffer from subtle brain injury and need specialist advice.

Subtle Brain Injury (SBI) is different to other brain injuries

If you suffer from any long-term effects after a concussion we call it a subtle brain injury. Most brain injuries are dramatic but this can happen even if you don’t lose consciousness. This is the main reason that it is different to other kinds of head injury cases.

With an SBI, your symptoms can be very subtle and occur over the first 72 hours. Medical professionals and lawyers might not see these symptoms in the first few hours after your accident. 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 tend to be the ones that notice differences to a person’s character or behaviour.

What are the causes of SBI?

Someone can suffer a subtle brain injury from incidents and accidents that seem quite minor. It doesn’t even need to be a violent event. It can something as simple as:

  • 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.
The symptoms of subtle brain injury 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. This really compounds the situation. People tend to find themselves getting worse instead of getting better. They 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 subtle brain injury solicitor. A specialist will look beyond the physical symptoms, such as the whiplash, and can recognise a SBI. Sadly we sometimes talk to clients who feel that the professionals think they are exaggerating or malingering. We know that you aren’t.

Investigating SBI

If you are in this situation, you could well find that routine scans and tests come back negative. This isn’t because you’re malingering, it’s because no one is looking for the right thing. You need to see specialist neurologists and neuro psychologists who can identify the cause of your symptoms and tell us whether there has been a SBI.

Sometimes the vestibular system in the head has also been damaged. Again you need to be examined by an appropriate and experienced expert, otherwise your injuries might be missed. 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.

Get the right team around you

Even in the medical profession, there aren’t many people who really understand subtle brain injury. We appreciate that this makes things even tougher for you. If we see insurance companies defending these claims, we know that they will work hard to try and disprove the injured party. They sometimes allege fraud, exaggeration or dishonesty, which is really difficult for our clients. 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. When you work with Barratts, you have a well prepared team around you. We understand and we will put you in touch with barristers and medical experts who also know about SBI.  Without your strong, expert team, your claim for subtle brain injury might fail. You might even end up facing a finding of fraud, dishonesty or exaggeration.

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.

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 us to see how Barratts can help.