The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan left an increased number of veterans with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), which is a head injury that results in the loss of consciousness, possible amnesia, and ensuring neurological deficits. According to the Department of Defense and the Defense and Veteran’s Brain Injury Center, an estimated 22 percent of all combat casualties from those conflicts are brain injuries; an additional 60 to 80 percent of veterans who suffered blast injuries also suffer TBIs. Unfortunately, because much of the symptoms of a TBI occur directly after impact, veterans often have trouble obtaining compensation for their head injuries. At The Comerford Law Office, LLC, VA disability attorney James R. Comerford understands how devastating a TBI can be to your future, and so will do everything in his power to make sure that you are rightfully compensated for your wartime injuries.
Determining the Severity of Your TBI
The severity of a traumatic brain injury is directly related to the severity of the symptoms associated with the injury. Your TBI may be ranked as either mild, moderate, or severe. To learn more about how your injury may rank, review the accepted definitions below:
- Mild TBI: The loss or alteration of consciousness for < 30 minutes; post-traumatic amnesia for <24 hours; focal neurologic deficits; and/or Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) of 13-15;
- Moderate TBI: The loss of consciousness for > 30 minutes; post-traumatic amnesia for > 24 hours; and an initial GCS of 9-12; and
- Severe TBI: All of the criteria listed for a moderate TBI, but with a GCS of <9.
Nearly 80 to 100 percent of individuals who suffer from a mild TBI (mTBI) will experience immediate symptoms, such as headache, dizziness, insomnia, impaired memory, and/or lowered tolerance for noise and light. In many cases, the victim of a mTBI will return to their normal state of function within three to six months; however, in 10 to 15 percent of cases, patients end up developing chronic symptoms that continue to affect them for the rest of their lives. These symptoms include headache, tinnitus, insomnia, memory loss, inability to concentrate, irritability, depression, and other somatic, cognitive, and behavioral issues. These are the individuals that most need VA benefits for their TBI, but they are also the individuals that have the hardest time proving that their symptoms are combat-related. Individuals with moderate and severe TBIs experience the same long-term effects of their injury as someone with a chronic mTBI, but to a greater degree. Oftentimes they require ongoing cognitive and vocational rehabilitation, and pharmacological intervention.
Diagnosis and Obtaining Benefits
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to diagnose a TBI, as there are no screening instruments that can detect symptoms. It is wholly up to the suffering patient to paint a picture of how they feel on a day-to-day basis, and for the physician to make a diagnosis based on what they have been told. In order to obtain a positive diagnosis, it would be in the patient’s best interest to present unequivocal evidence relating their injury to an event that happened in combat (such as evidence of an IED exploding under their combat command vehicle). Once a thorough interview has been conducted and a connection between a combat-related event and the injury has been established, it is up to the clinician to make a diagnosis.
Consult a Chicago Veterans’ Benefits Attorney
If you or a loved one suffered a TBI while in the military, and if the clinician either failed to make a positive diagnosis or you have been denied your benefits despite a positive diagnosis, reach out to Chicago veterans’ benefits attorney James R. Comerford. With years of experience helping veterans obtain the benefits they need and deserve, our team has the knowledge and skill necessary to guide you towards a successful outcome. To learn more about how the team at The Comerford Law Office, LLC will fight for your rights to your VA benefits, call 312-863-8572 to schedule your free consultation today.