How Traumatic Brain Injury Affects Judgment and Personality

Recently, a man named Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by police. His wife could be heard in the video telling law enforcement officers that her husband had a traumatic brain injury, or TBI. As the Boston Globe explains, experts are blaming the man's allegedly erratic behavior, which precipitated the shooting, on a traumatic brain injury he suffered last year in a motorcycle accident.Brain Scans

According to the Boston Globe, the man's friends indicate medications he was taking due to his injury caused him to "zone out," to slur his words, and to lose his train of thought in the middle of a conversation. One neighbor even said it was possible to tell just by looking at him that he had a problem following the brain injury. Tragically, the symptoms of TBI, which can include impaired judgement, enhanced anger, and changes in personality, may have been a major contributing cause to the events leading up to the police shooting.

While most victims of TBIs likely will not experience such a dramatic situation, the personality changes and other impairments resulting from a traumatic brain injury can still affect their lives in profound ways. Victims need to fully understand the risks so they can pursue full and fair compensation and seek appropriate medical treatment.

CNN also took a close look at TBI following the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.  CNN indicated the most common causes of TBI include auto accidents and other types of accidents that cause a direct blow to the head. A movement forceful enough the brain shakes inside the skull can also cause a TBI, even if no outside objects actually strike the head.

TBIs can vary in severity, with those who suffer mild brain injuries typically experiencing a brief loss of consciousness and a feeling of confusion. Changes in sleep patterns, anxiety, behavioral changes, mood swings, memory problems, depression, and other impairments can also result from even a mild TBI.

Moderate to severe brain injuries can have more devastating affects, including agitation, tingling or numbness in the fingers and toes, severe headaches, combative behavior, slurred speech, and seizures.  Treatments usually focus on minimizing or addressing symptoms, and can include anti-seizure medications.  In the immediate aftermath of the incident that causes the TBI, the patient may be placed into a medically induced coma because the comatose brain doesn't require as much oxygen to function. If blood vessels were compressed by brain pressure caused by swelling due to injury, putting the patient in the coma makes it possible for the brain to survive on less oxygen.

Managing symptoms over the long-term can require a team of experts, including occupational and behavioral therapists. There is no guarantee treatment will be successful, and sufferers with ongoing symptoms could find themselves unable to work, exercising bad judgement, and even facing dangerous situations like encounters with the police. Victims need to ensure they get appropriate legal help at the outset of their case.

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Washington State Association for Justice Eagle ProgramWashington State Association for JusticeBrain Injury Association of AmericaWashington State Bar AssociationBrain Injury Alliance Washington
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