The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that auto accidents are the second leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) across the country each year.
One of the most common questions individuals have after sustaining an injury in a catastrophic car accident is how long it will take them to recover. They worry about missing work, as well as how their family will fare without their help around the house or financial assistance.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to answer that question when it comes to brain injuries.
The recovery process depends on the type of brain injury
Healing a complex organ like the brain is not as easy as healing a broken bone, and the recovery process will be different for everyone. However, the type of brain injury often plays a significant role in how long recovery could take:
- Mild TBIs, like concussions, could take a few weeks to a few months to heal. Even then, it may still take time for individuals to gradually return to their usual activities, such as their work; and
- On the other hand, severe TBIs can take anywhere from months to years to recover from, with many physical therapy and rehabilitation sessions. Unfortunately, severe TBIs may also result in permanent effects that individuals might not fully recover from, including behavioral, speech or physical impairments.
Recovery often requires rest, but individuals often want to hurry recovery along so they can return to their normal life. Avoiding resting can make a recovery take even longer.
Considering the stages of recovery might be more helpful than considering the time
Calculating how long it might take to recover can be complex, and it is rarely accurate. Instead, the Ranchos Los Amigos Scale of Cognitive Functioning is often more helpful for individuals and their families to determine the stage they are at in their recovery. These stages cover the range of recovery, from:
- Not responsive and unconscious, which is usually right after the crash;
- Feeling confused and requiring assistance to complete basic tasks;
- Relearning tasks sufficiently, with some possible impairments in memory and complex problem-solving;
- Obtaining most physical, social, cognitive and emotional function again; all the way to
- Returning to full independence.
It may not help them determine how long it will take to recover. However, these stages can help individuals determine how far along they are in the recovery process.
Regardless of the injury, recovery will take time
Recovering from any brain injury is a gradual process. There might be no way to measure how long it will take to recover. That is why it is critical to seek compensation to help support individuals and their families through recovery (Maryland Code, Courts and Judicial Proceedings §11-109). It might be beneficial for Maryland families to consult an experienced attorney to pursue the compensation they deserve.