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Gabrielle Giffords: Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery Could Be Lengthy

The remarkable recovery of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Democratic representative from Tucson, Arizona (AZ), who was shot in the head on January 8, illustrates the extent of medical advances in cases of traumatic brain injury, but also the long time it can take to recover.  As of now, its hard to say if her speech or cognitive function will ever be 100 percent restored.

The Lincoln Tribune gave an update on Giffords' condition from her husband Mark Kelly, who offered the closing prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC.

After she was recently removed from TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital, she immediately began therapy that could last several months. Traumatic brain injury recovery is a painstaking process that can take a long time. It can take months or even years to relearn simple tasks such as walking, speaking or reading after suffering brain damage.

The bullet hit Giffords' left hemisphere which controls language. Bullets cause shockwaves to the whole brain. Our firm recently noted how brain injuries caused be firearms have risen by 13 percent.

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have a devastating effect on the victim. There are also hidden effects of traumatic brain injuries, including memory loss or behavioral or impulse control issues. Even mild traumatic brain injuries can be devastating to a victim's life and career. In a 2001 case in West Virginia (WV) a jury awarded our client, a CSX locomotive engineer who was hit on the head by a valve during an explosion, $365,000. While there were no obvious outward signs of injury, we were able to show his memory and other cognitive functions had been impaired by the accident.

A head injury can cost a victim up to $4 million during a lifetime of necessay remedial care. A shocking $48.3 billion is spent as a direct and indirect result of traumatic brain injuries. The majority of TBI injuries are caused by car accidents (28%) and almost half of traumatic brain injuries that need medical attention are caused by car crashes (49%). Sports cause another 20 percent while assaults cause another ten percent.

With thousands of wounded veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, we have seen an upsurge in traumatic brain injuries caused by bullets and other armaments. The presence of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Hampton, Virginia (VA), means many of these victims are showing up inthe Hampton/Newport News area of Hampton Roads (VA) for rehabilitation care.

Our thoughts are with the family of Giffords and all other victims of traumatic brain injuries and their families.

See this video on how Giffords survived being shot in the head.


Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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