Living With Someone Suffering From Aphasia From A TBI


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Few injuries pose more significant risks to an individual than injuries affecting the brain. Traumatic brain injuries can impact a person’s physical, emotional, and financial health more than most others.

The brain determines nearly every process in the body, voluntary and involuntary. It handles countless aspects of our daily lives, so a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be so debilitating. Even when they are not fatal, TBIs can have catastrophic consequences that sometimes last a lifetime, including debilitating changes in speech, as we will discuss later. It is even more devastating when preventable accidents cause such problems or when they result from medical negligence.

What Are Traumatic Brain Injuries?

A traumatic brain injury is typically defined as a disruption of the brain's normal functioning that is caused by a bump or blow to the head. This can be an object violently hitting the head or the head violently hitting an object. To cause a TBI, the force must be strong enough that it breaks through the skull and damages the brain or causes the brain to move within the skull.

When one of the following indicators is present, it shows that there was an alteration in the normal function of the brain and that TBI may have occurred:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory loss of the event and/or events before and after the injury
  • Change in mental state, including confusion, disorientation, trouble focusing, or slow thinking
  • Focal neurological deficits, including vision problems, change in speech, and muscle weakness

The symptoms of a TBI can range in severity from mild to severe, depending on the incident and the extent of damage the brain sustains. In mild cases, the person may suffer a short loss of consciousness or have a brief change in mental state. When severe TBIs occur, it may result in a loss of consciousness for an extended period, coma, or in the worst-case scenario, death.

What Is Aphasia?

Aphasia is a condition that may result when the parts of the brain that control language are damaged. In most people, these areas of the brain are on the left side. Typically, aphasia happens suddenly following a head injury or stroke. In some cases, it may develop gradually, usually due to progressive neurological disease or growing brain tumor. Aphasia affects the understanding and expression of language, including reading and writing. It can co-occur with speech disorders like apraxia or dysarthria of speech, which TBI also causes.

The condition was thrust into the national spotlight when the family of actor Bruce Willis announced in April 2022 that he would be stepping away from acting following an aphasia diagnosis.

What Are The Different Types Of Aphasia?

Aphasia is broken down into two categories, fluent and non-fluent. When the brain's temporal lobe is damaged, it can result in a type of fluent aphasia called Wernicke’s aphasia. People suffering from Wernicke’s aphasia often speak in long, nonsensical sentences, adding unnecessary words, or even creating made-up words. It is hard for others to understand what the person is trying to say, and the person is often unaware of the mistakes in their speech, creating frustrating situations for everyone involved.

One of the most common types of non-fluent aphasia is called Broca’s aphasia. This condition affects people with damage to the brain’s frontal lobe. While people with Broca’s aphasia speak in phrases that typically can be understood, they often leave out short words like “and,” “the,” and “is.” For example, the person may say “dog walk” and mean, “I will take the dog for a walk.” They speak in short sentences that are produced with great effort. People with this type of aphasia are usually able to understand the speech of others fairly well, and they recognize their own speech difficulties in comparison, creating frustration and irritation. Additionally, because the frontal lobe is essential for motor movements, people with Broca’s aphasia often have right-sided paralysis or weakness of the extremities.

Global aphasia is another type of non-fluent aphasia that results from injuries to extensive sections of the brain's language areas. People suffering from global aphasia have severe difficulties communicating and are very limited in both their ability to speak and comprehend others’ language.

How Might Medical Negligence Lead To Aphasia?

Aphasia is a condition that is difficult for those who suffer from it and their families. It can be even more distressing when the condition is caused by the medical negligence of a professional who you should be able to trust.

Medical negligence can lead to aphasia in several ways. Typically, cases of aphasia resulting from medical negligence occur when a stroke is not properly diagnosed or treated. Some examples of this include:

  • Failure to recognize the symptoms of stroke or failure to perform a thorough examination of the patient
  • Misdiagnosis of stroke symptoms
  • Failure to order appropriate and necessary testing, including CT scans
  • Failure to obtain patient medical history or perform a differential diagnosis
  • Failure to diagnose a stroke or other condition that causes aphasia
  • Anesthesia or surgical mistakes that cause stroke
  • Failure to treat stroke promptly, including not administering tPA quickly enough

What Is It Like Living With A Loved One Who Has Aphasia?

Individuals who suffer from aphasia experience many life challenges. Even though they cannot always communicate clearly, their minds and how they think are unaffected by the condition, which can leave them feeling frustrated, angry, and hopeless. However, those who have aphasia are not the only ones who suffer.

The family members and caregivers of people with aphasia also have to face numerous unique challenges. Depending on the severity of the aphasia, living with someone who has the condition can cause physical, mental, and emotional effects that frequently coincide. Caregivers may have to deal with stress, poor sleep, low energy level, negative outlook on life, reduced emotional well-being, and even physical pain like migraine and body aches. Additionally, they may experience worsening relationships with family, friends, and their loved ones who have aphasia.

Most people who care for a loved one with aphasia do so for completely altruistic reasons. Unfortunately, doing so often takes a heavy toll on their own lives.

Contact Ross Feller Casey For A Review Of Your TBI Case

Suppose you or your loved one suffered aphasia from a traumatic brain injury due to the negligence or reckless actions of someone else. In that case, you need an experienced brain injury attorney to review your case. You may be entitled to compensation that would significantly reduce the financial burden of TBI.

Brain injury cases can be complicated and hard to prove. They require the expertise of qualified lawyers to understand the legalities of the claim and doctors to understand the medical aspects of the event. At Ross Feller Casey, we have leading medical doctors right on staff who review medical records and assist with brain injury cases like yours. As a result, we’ve been able to help many clients get the financial compensation they deserve for the injuries they’ve suffered.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency basis, so you will not be asked to pay anything until a financial recovery is made in your case.

To learn more, contact our offices today to schedule your free case evaluation.

Disclaimer: Ross Feller Casey, LLP provides legal advice only after an attorney-client relationship is formed. Our website is an introduction to the firm and does not create a relationship between our attorneys and clients. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after a written agreement is signed by the client and the firm. Because every case is unique, the description of awards and summary of cases successfully handled are not intended to imply or guarantee that same success in other cases. Ross Feller Casey, LLP represents catastrophically injured persons and their families in injury and wrongful death cases, providing legal representation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.