My maternal grandfather lived the last 60 or so years of his life with brain damage due to a train accident. Formerly a school teacher, he eventually found work stacking veneer in a veneer mill. He was incontinent at night, wore a rope for belt, looked menacing even though he would never harm anyone, constantly embarrassed his children and grandchildren, and walked everywhere he went. Shouldering the burden without complaint, Grandma ran a mill village grocery store, took in boarders, and held the family together. Every time I represent a client with brain damage, I think of Grandpa and the effect that injury has had on all our lives for three generations.
When the brain is injured, the essence of the person is affected. Memory, reason, temperament and personality may all be impaired in strange and inconsistent ways. Traits that were minor idiosyncrasies before may expand into debilitating obstacles.
The effect may be devastating to the victim's relationships, occupation, income, school performance, and overall quality of life. However, he may look just fine physically, and may seem normal in casual encounters. To make matters worse, friends, family members, coworkers and employers may not understand or sympathize with an injury they cannot see.
When a person suffers multiple severe physical injuries, the focus is often on the visible injuries, the cuts and broken bones. Closed head injury to the brain is thus one of the most overlooked and sinister outcomes of traumatic injuries. Broken bones can heal, but the unseen injury of a bruised brain may never fully recover.