A diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is one of the most severe brain injuries a person can sustain and may result in life-changing consequences. If you or someone you love got into an auto accident and are dealing with a diffuse axonal injury, Nadrich & Cohen is here. They will help you understand more about this condition and how to recover any damages sustained.
Nadrich & Cohen specialize in various types of personal injury cases, including those involving traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and diffuse axonal injuries. With the aid of a California brain injury attorney, you can seek monetary compensation for your injuries.
Diffuse Axonal Brain Injury
A diffuse axonal injury is classified as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and affects several areas of the brain. TBIs can range from mild to severe, with a severe type categorized as diffuse axonal injury. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are more than 1.5 million cases of traumatic brain injury every year in the United States.
TBIs are the leading cause of death in certain populations of people, namely children and young adults. Even for those who survive a diffuse axonal injury, there can be debilitating consequences due to the nature of the injury.
Knowing the brain’s anatomy can help you understand how a diffuse axonal injury occurs.
About the Brain
Your brain consists of white, grey and dura matter. You’ve probably heard of white and grey matter because it makes up the larger part of your brain. The dura is a thin layer of matter that helps protect the white and grey matter. Then outside of the dura is your skull and your scalp.
White matter is made up of many nerve fibers called axons. They form a large network in the brain that allows the exchange of information and communication between different areas of your brain. You could consider it the main communication center.
The grey matter consists of neurons that work to process and release information. It does so by working through axon signaling found in the white matter. The grey matter is responsible for movement, memory and emotions.
How Does an Axonal Injury Occur?
A diffuse axonal injury occurs when the nerve fibers found in the white matter (axons) tear (called shearing). This happens due to an accelerating or decelerating force that suddenly causes the brain to move back and forth. The rotating movement of grey and white matter slides over each other, leading to shearing and axonal injury. Most of the tearing happens where the grey and white matter intersect. Diffuse axonal injury can also cause microscopic harm to the axons.
An axonal injury is usually the result of an auto accident because it causes the sudden, jarring movements described above. Research indicates that there is no connection between skull damage or fractures and DAI, but it is what occurs behind the layer of the skull that leads to DAI. Some people involved in an auto crash may initially be diagnosed with a TBI but later discover that diffuse axonal injury is the specific type of TBI they have. This diagnosis can be relevant for the prognosis and treatment plan.
Symptoms of Diffuse Axonal Injury
If you sustained a head injury and are suffering from DAI, there are a range of symptoms you may experience. One of the most common is a loss of consciousness. However, people can experience other symptoms, too.
If your axonal injury case is mild, you may present with diffuse axonal injury symptoms that are similar to a concussion, such as:
If the diffuse axonal injury is severe, other more serious symptoms and complications can occur. Some people lose consciousness and remain in a persistent vegetative state for a period of time or indefinitely. A small number of those in a vegetative state due to DAI regain consciousness after a year. Those who are unconscious for a short period may still experience communication problems, cognitive deficits and motor function issues because of injury to the brain. The extent to which these symptoms present depends on which part of the brain is damaged.
Another neurological condition that may result from DAI is dysautonomia. This refers to a dysfunction of the nerves that regulate nonvoluntary body functions, such as blood pressure, heart rate and sweating.
Diffuse Axonal Injury Grades
DAI is a clinical diagnosis, but since no precise lab tests can determine it, doctors use various axonal injury grades to diagnose the condition. Diffuse axonal injury grades help physicians understand the prognosis and treatment plan. These are as follows:
- Grade 1: Diffuse axonal damage within the white matter of the brain, specifically the cerebral hemispheres and where the grey-white matter intersects. Results in a brief loss of consciousness.
- Grade 2: Tissue tear and hemorrhaging is present. Axonal damage is in the white matter of the brain, including Grade 1 regions and the territory of the corpus callosum. Recovery varies with coma having an unclear duration.
- Grade 3: Includes the Grade 2 findings with tissue tear hemorrhages within the brainstem. Additionally, there is an instant coma with posturing, and recovery is incomplete.
Another axonal injury classification model used is the Adams Diffuse Axonal Injury Classification. It provides insight into the severity of the person’s brain trauma. It is as follows:
- Grade 1: A mild diffuse axonal injury. Microscopic white matter changes in the brainstem, corpus callosum and cerebral cortex.
- Grade 2: A moderate DAI with focal lesions in the corpus callosum.
- Grade 3: A severe diffuse axonal injury with all the Grade 2 findings and additional focal lesions in the brainstem.
Diffuse Axonal Injury & Car Accidents
Studies reflect a definite link between diffuse axonal injury and car accidents. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of diffuse axonal injury. Motor vehicle accidents contribute to the majority of diffuse axonal injury cases and other brain traumas. Some studies put the number of diffuse axonal injuries caused by auto accidents at 50 %.
Some people involved in an auto crash may initially be diagnosed with a TBI but later discover that diffuse axonal injury is the specific type of TBI they have. This diagnosis can be relevant for the prognosis and treatment plan.
Why is there a link between DAI and car accidents? When you get violently struck by another vehicle, your head is thrown forward or backward at a speed that is too fast for the brain. The skull moves but the brain lags. This type of rotational force causes the tearing action in the brain. The grey and white matter in the brain is severely shaken, causing them to override each other and become damaged. This incident can lead to extensive brain damage, coma, or death.
Treatment for Diffuse Axonal Injury
Since this type of head injury tends to damage several areas of the brain, diffuse axonal injury treatment may involve several components. The most important thing is to begin treatment immediately because of the brain’s neuroplasticity after a head injury.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to relearn new information by reorganizing its neural connections. In other words, even though brain pathways are damaged, neuroplasticity allows for creating new pathways to aid in accomplishing necessary tasks.
Neuroplasticity works through repetition and practice. Some brain functions may be restored or improved as the person undergoes diffuse axonal treatment. Treatment may fall within the following categories:
- Physical therapy: This helps you regain control over specific parts of the body that may be affected.
- Occupational therapy: Many people need help with various activities to become more independent. Occupational therapy assists you with developing whatever skills are needed to accomplish this goal. Some of the activities you may need help with after a brain injury include getting dressed, feeding yourself, and moving items from one hand to another.
- Speech therapy: Speech therapy is necessary if your diffuse axonal injury affects your ability to speak or swallow. You will practice special exercises during speech therapy to strengthen your face and mouth muscles.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Enduring a life-altering incident, such as an axonal injury, can leave a person with psychological trauma. Going to cognitive-behavioral therapy will help you cope with the difficulties of life.
Diffuse Axonal Injury Prognosis
The diffuse axonal injury prognosis depends on the severity of the brain injury. There are three levels of severity to any traumatic brain injury. Doctors assess the severity using the Glasgow coma scale (GCS). Doing so determines if the brain injury is mild, moderate, or severe.
The Glasgow coma scale measures the three functions as follows:
- Eye Opening (E): 4-automatic/spontaneous, 3-opens to voice, 2-opens to pain, 1-does not open.
- Verbal Response (V): 5-regular conversation, 4-oriented conversation, 3-words, but incoherent, 2-no words, only sounds, 1-no words or sounds.
- Motor Response (M): 6-normal, 5-localized to pain, 4-withdraws to pain, 3-decorticate posture, 2-decerebrate.
A mild brain injury patient would have a total score of 13 to 15 on the GCS. A score of nine to 12 is considered moderate traumatic brain injury, and anything eight and below is clinically significant for a severe brain injury.
Health experts have an unfavorable prognosis for people who have severe DAI. High mortality rates are associated with severe DAI. People with moderate brain injury are likely to stay in the hospital for more than ten days, and at three months, there is a 25.6% mortality rate. Furthermore, traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of permanent disability. So, for those who survive, many life challenges exist.
How Much Is a Diffuse Axonal Injury Case Worth?
An auto accident that leads to a serious head injury can result in a DAI and upend your entire life. The extent of damages you can recover from this type of injury case depends on the severity of your situation, among other factors. A California brain injury attorney can provide you more clarity on the exact amount you can expect.
Recoverable damages in a diffuse axonal injury case can be categorized into economic and non-economic damages.
Some of the common recoverable economic damages in a personal injury case of this nature are as follows:
- Hospital and doctor costs
- Special treatment costs, including equipment
- Assisted Living
- In-home health care (including full-time care if necessary)
- Costs due to residual injuries
- Loss of income
- Permanent or partial disability
- Prescription medication (which may be needed for life)
Non-economic damages refer to losses that are not direct financial losses but are still of value to your life. These may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of pleasurable activities
- Loss of consortium
- Unable to advance in your career
Your personal injury attorney will help determine a fair amount for non-economic damages. In California, there is no set formula to determine the appropriate amount to ask for. Every case is unique, and every person’s suffering is different.
Additionally, California does not have a cap or limit to the amount you can sue for when it comes to pain and suffering damages. That’s why it’s essential to have a qualified brain injury attorney on the case to ensure you receive an adequate amount for your suffering.
How Nadrich & Cohen Can Help You After DAI Diagnosis
Nadrich & Cohen are attorneys experienced in helping clients seek recovery in brain injury cases. Working with a lawyer alleviates you and your loved ones from managing the many steps involved in filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Nadrich & Cohen will take care of the following tasks for you:
Gather the Facts
There are plenty of facts and information that need to be gathered. These include things like:
- Accident report
- Medical records
- Eyewitness statements
- Surveillance footage
- Income information (to calculate financial loss)
A personal injury attorney will gather the facts and information in your case.
Prepare the Evidence
Once the attorney has the information, they build the case. Their goal is to prove how the other party is at fault (or mostly at fault). In some instances, a car crash may be considered both parties’ fault, according to the report. However, your personal injury attorney will work to show how the other person was negligent and bears a greater responsibility for damages.
Determine the Damages
The attorney will assess the evidence to determine what damages apply to your situation. Then they will calculate how much the costs are and what you can get for the various damages.
Manage All Communications
There will be many incoming and outgoing communications that an attorney will handle for you while you recuperate. Written, electronic, and telephonic communications will be managed with ease, so you can recover.
Negotiate a Reasonable Settlement
In many instances, a case doesn’t need to go to court. An experienced attorney is able to negotiate a fair amount with the other party and settle the case out of court. This saves time and hassles.
Take the Case to Trial
Sometimes it’s not possible to work out a decent settlement with the other party. When that happens, your attorney will move forward and take it to trial. You can count on having a voice representing you in the courtroom, fighting your case.
Diffuse Axonal Injury Lawyers
Nadrich & Cohen has been representing those injured in car accidents, including those who have suffered diffuse axonal injuries, since 1990. We have recovered over $350,000,000 on behalf of our clients in that time. Our experience and expertise mean that we can obtain for you the largest possible financial recovery in an injury claim or lawsuit.
We do not charge a fee to represent injury victims until and unless we obtain financial compensation for them. The only fee we charge is a percentage of any recovery we obtain. In other words, we will not charge you a fee until and unless we win your case.
If you can’t afford medical treatment for your injuries, we can get you to the best doctors in California who won’t charge you for treatment until your case is over. Doctors agree to provide this service for our clients because they know about our long track record of successfully obtaining financial compensation for injury victims.
Call us today for a free consultation or text us if you or a loved one suffered a diffuse axonal injury after being in an auto accident in California. You may be eligible for financial compensation.