Frequently Asked Questions About Traumatic Brain Injury

VA accredited attorneys answer your questions about recovering disability benefits

Traumatic brain injury is a condition that results when a sudden blow or jolt to the head causes damage to brain tissue. These injuries affect a person’s physical, cognitive, and emotional health. Across the United States, approximately 1.4 million individuals suffer TBIs each year from auto accidents, physical assaults, explosions, falls, sports-related contact, and other causes. According to the VA, 14 to 20 percent of wounded combatants suffer TBIs, called the “signature wound” of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. At Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban, P.C., our VA accredited attorneys have helped numerous vets with TBIs recover disability benefits. If you or a loved one has had a claim denied, trust us to fight for you as well.

Traumatic brain injury in the U.S. military

TBI is a significant health issue for the military and the veteran community. The military relies heavily on young men ages 18 to 24 who are already statistically more likely to experience this type of injury. Service requires participation in physically demanding and even potentially dangerous activities. Service members often deploy to areas where they are at risk from blast exposures from a variety of explosive devices. If you or a loved one has sustained a head injury, it’s important to get proper care as soon as possible. We hope this brief list of frequently asked questions provides helpful information.

Contact our VA accredited attorneys for help accessing disability benefits

If your traumatic brain injury prevents you from holding gainful employment, you may be eligible for Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits. Unfortunately, the condition is hard to prove through diagnostic testing, so many valid claims get denied. If this happens to you, Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban, P.C. can help. Call us from anywhere in the country at 866-866-VETS, and someone will be ready to talk to you, or you can contact us online.


How serious is my injury?                          

The Department of Defense classifies TBI as follows:

  • Concussion/mild TBI — The most common type of injury may involve loss of consciousness for up to 30 minutes, and/or memory loss and/or confusion and disorientation for less than 24 hours.
  • Moderate TBI — Symptoms last longer: confusion exceeds 24 hours; loss of consciousness exceeds 30 minutes but does not exceed 24 hours; memory loss may exceed 24 hours, but last less than a week.
  • Severe TBI — Confused state and/or unconsciousness lasts longer than 24 hours, and memory loss may last longer than a week.
  • Penetrating TBI or open head injury — Here, a projectile or other object penetrates the scalp, skull and dura matter, causing direct trauma to the brain tissue.

“Mild” TBI is often a poor description, as patients report cognitive changes, headaches, dizziness, and a number of other symptoms, which can interfere severely with daily activities.

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How do doctors diagnose TBI?

Diagnosis is often difficult because patients don’t always show physical signs of injury that diagnostic testing can detect. A comprehensive battery of neuropsychological testing is often necessary.

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What are the most common symptoms of TBI?

TBI causes physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral issues. Common symptoms include difficulty sleeping, poor concentration, irritability, fatigue, depression, memory problems, headaches, anxiety, dizziness, blurred or double vision, and sensitivity to bright light.

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What can be done about my symptoms?

Many patients recover within three months without any special treatment. Patients should resume activities gradually and be careful not to overtax themselves. One week of total relaxation is recommended. If symptoms return, ease up on your routine. Stress can worsen TBI symptoms. Avoid worrying about your condition, because worry is stressful. Make sure you have a qualified physician monitoring your recovery.

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Are there effective treatments for TBI?

There is no one effective treatment for TBI, but most patients with mild TBI recover with time. If the symptoms persist beyond a few weeks, rehabilitation programs are available. These focus on cognitive retraining, psychosocial adjustment, communication and leisure skills, and vocational issues.

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