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Subtle Brain Injuries


The vast majority of people attending hospital with a head injury will have suffered a fall or collision and no apparent long term effects.

In many cases the after effects will amount to nothing more than a short term headache. In others, there may be a brain injury which goes undetected. This is often referred to as a ‘subtle brain injury’ and symptoms can start to occur over the first 72 hours. The effects can have life-changing consequences.

People with a subtle brain injury may not exhibit obvious outward signs of disability.

Common symptoms of a subtle brain injury can include:

  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, visual disturbances, noise sensitivity and difficulty with fine co-ordination
  • Emotional or behavioural symptoms such as anxiety or depression, loss of motivation, lack of insight, impulsive behaviour
  • Cognitive symptoms such as difficulties with short-term memory, word finding, learning new information, concentration, multi tasking, problem solving and working under pressure

Often these symptoms are not fully investigated. If the victim of an accident has suffered other serious injuries, then the medical response team are likely to focus on those and could easily overlook any mild head injury.

Mild head injuries can be common in children – in England, about 35000 children per year sustain a brain injury, and the vast majority of these are considered ‘mild’. Whilst the effects of these injuries are often referred to as minor head injuries, the consequences can be catastrophic. It is therefore important to recognise the symptoms of a head injury as early as possible and seek the appropriate support and rehabilitation to help limit the damage and make adjustments. The earlier these symptoms are diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome will be.

Difficulties with thinking, memory and emotions and can be harder to recognise in children and so it can sometimes be a while before anyone realises there is a problem. And in children, because the brain is still developing, it may take a bit of time, sometimes even years, for difficulties to show.

At Trethowans, our focus is on providing specialist rehabilitation at the earliest possible opportunity, when it has the greatest potential to improve your child’s outcome. We will seek interim payments, where possible, to help you meet these expenses.

Trethowans have recently successfully settled a subtle brain injury claim which required specialist knowledge and experience to pick up on the undiagnosed subtle brain injury and take appropriate action in light of the same:

Miss P was injured when a car pulled out of a side road and into collision to her while riding her bicycle around a roundabout. She suffered a blow to her head and it was believed there was a very brief loss of consciousness. Following the accident she developed a contusion to her left frontal area, vomited and felt agitated. She was taken, by ambulance to Hospital where she underwent investigations. She underwent a CT scan, due to a suspected intracranial bleed. Thankfully no abnormality was shown on the scan and she was diagnosed with concussion. Miss P was discharged later that day.

Initially Miss P felt that she was not suffering any lasting symptoms, however, her mother and the file handler at Trethowans became increasingly worried about minor and very subtle memory issues. The issues did not interfere with her day to day life but Miss P would sometimes forget discussions which had taken place a day or two previously.

Trethowans obtained a neurology report where it was considered that Miss P had suffered a minor brain injury with a brief post concussion syndrome. The neurologist felt it was likely that she had probably suffered a subtle diffuse axonal injury. He considered that there could be further improvement in the memory disturbance for up to 3 years post accident, but did not believe that such issues were likely to interfere with her work and career. There was a small increased risk of post traumatic epilepsy as a result of the injury. The claim settled for a substantial five figure sum.

If you wish to find out further information please call us on 0800 2800 421 or get in touch here.

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