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Types of Traumatic Brain Injury: Cranial Nerve Injury
Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland
If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury, you may understand some of the symptoms, but others may not be as straightforward. Difficulty concentrating and speaking are easy to relate to a brain injury, but what about problems with your sense of smell? Are droopy eyelids and sensitivity to light related to your brain injury? What about changes to your smile?
All of these effects and many others may be caused by a particular kind of brain injury, known as cranial nerve injury. If you have suffered cranial nerve injury, the experienced brain injury lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, P.C. can help. Please contact us today for a free consultation.
Introduction to Cranial Nerve Injury
When you suffer a traumatic brain injury, the effects can be very complicated. Specific parts of the brain may be affected by the injury, leading to cognitive, emotional, or motor disabilities. In addition, the cranial nerves can be injured.
Cranial nerves carry information from the brain to other parts of the body. There are twelve different cranial nerves, many running from the brain stem:
- Olfactory (smell)
- Optic (sight)
- Ocular motor (movement of the eyes, eyelids, and iris)
- Trochlear (movement of the eyes)
- Trigeminal (sense of touch in the face and chewing muscles)
- Abducens (movement of the eyes)
- Facial (facial muscles and sense of taste)
- Auditory-vestibular (hearing and balance)
- Glossopharyngal (throat muscles, salivary glands, taste, and detection of blood pressure in the aorta)
- Vagus (control of heart, lungs and abdominal organs)
- Spinal accessory (throat and neck muscles)
- Hypoglossal (tongue movement)
Cranial nerve injury may occur in nearly a quarter of all brain injuries, but they often go unnoticed during initial treatment because their effects may not be readily apparent. Injury to all the cranial nerves is possible as a result of traumatic brain injury, but some cranial nerves are more likely to be injured than others.
Common Cranial Nerve Injuries
The olfactory nerve is the most common cranial nerve injury associated with head injury, and changes in the sense of smell happen to many brain injury victims. It occurs in both closed and open-head injury and may be present in mild traumatic brain injury. Facial nerve injury is also fairly common, leading to facial paralysis. Brain injury is the second most common cause of facial paralysis, after Bell's palsy. Ocular motor, abducens, and trochlear nerve injuries are also fairly common, making palsies of the eyes, double vision, and diminished pupil response fairly common aftereffects of brain injury.
Less Common Cranial Nerve Injuries
Some cranial nerve injuries are less common, but more serious. Injury to the optic nerve is fairly rare, but when it occurs a person may experience a loss of vision or visual field.
Trigeminal nerve injury is not very common, and most often occurs with injury to other cranial nerves. Trigeminal nerve injuries most commonly occur due to penetrating head injuries and facial fractures. When the trigeminal nerve is injured, it most typically affects the mid- and upper face.
Damage to the auditory-vestibular nerve, resulting in balance disorders and a loss of hearing, tend to be associated with temporal bone fractures.
Effects of Cranial Nerve Injuries
Cranial nerve injuries can be damaging to your ability to work and live. Facial palsies and paralysis are serious liabilities for people whose livelihood depends on face-to-face communication. Loss of vision, loss of hearing, and loss of smell or taste can significantly affect your quality of life and your ability to perform many jobs.
If you have suffered a cranial nerve injury that significantly impacts your life, the personal injury lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata, & Siegel, P.C. can help you pursue legal action against those responsible for your injury. Please call or email us today for a free initial consultation.