The most devastating type of injury is a diffuse axonal injury, sometimes abbreviated a DAI. Diffuse axonal injuries occur on a cellular level, and can't be seen except under a microscope, which can only be used after death. Some sophisticated Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) centers can find evidence of a diffuse axonal injury, namely correlative petechial hemorrhages (tiny broken blood vessels). An MRI may also play a role in predicting how long a patient will stay in a coma. When a diffuse axonal injury occurs, the brains long connective nerve fibers (axons) are sheared or torn apart across the whole brain. Rather than occur in part of the brain (a focal brain injury) damage from a diffuse axonal injury is widespread throughout the brain. A more mild form of a diffuse axonal injury is a concussion or a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).
Causes and Symptoms of a Diffuse Axonal Injury
A diffuse axonal injury can occur at any age, even to babies in utero if the pregnant woman is subjected to trauma. The most common cause of a diffuse axonal injury is a high-speed car crash, such as a head-on collision or a rollover accident. In children, child abuse (shaken baby syndrome) may also be a cause of diffuse axonal injury. Loss of consciousness and coma is the frequent consequence of a diffuse axonal injury. Although a diffuse axonal injury alone is not likely to result in death, as many as 90% of patients remain in a persistent vegetative state and never regain consciousness.
Treatment of Diffuse Axonal Injuries
Immediate medical treatment is critical to reduce and monitor swelling inside the brain, which can lead to further brain damage or death. Physicians often use steroids to reduce swelling and will monitor intracranial pressure. Only about 10% of those that suffer a diffuse axonal injury regain consciousness. If the patient comes out of coma, treatment will vary depending on how the shearing affected the patient. Treatment and rehabilitation may include physical therapy, speech therapy, recreational therapy, and counseling. Depending on the injury, the patient may be permanently disabled and require around-the-clock care. After the initial medical treatment, rehabilitation may take years.
Compensation for Your Injuries: Diffuse Axonal Brain Injury Lawsuits and Settlements
Diffuse axonal injuries are considered a catastrophic injury. For those that survive a brain injury, the lifetime care costs may exceed several million dollars. If someone else's negligent actions caused you or a loved one to suffer a diffuse axonal injury, you may be entitled to compensation for medical care costs, rehabilitation and therapy, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. Contact an experienced brain injury attorney for more information about your legal rights - most provide a free consultation.
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