When people hear the word “catastrophic,” they may immediately associate it with a devastating, severe injury. However, the legal definition, according to Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute, has to do with the outcome of the injury rather than the injury itself. A catastrophic injury is one that permanently affects a person’s ability to work at gainful employment. 

Traumatic brain injuries are often catastrophic because they create disabilities that prevent sufferers from ever holding a steady job and supporting themselves again. Here are three issues that a TBI often causes, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

  1. Intellectual issues

Cognitive problems TBI victims may experience include changes in ability to remember, learn, reason and pay attention or concentrate. TBI injuries may also affect judgment. 

Executive functions a person may lose include the ability to solve problems, make decisions, multitask, organize, plan and perform tasks from beginning to completion. 

  1. Communication issues

Developing problems with language and communication can certainly interfere with anyone’s ability to work. It is common for TBI victims to suffer challenges with speaking and writing or understanding others’ speech and writing. They may no longer be able to organize their thoughts and ideas, and may experience difficulty following conversations and participating in them. 

Brain injuries may also create issues with: 

  • Starting a conversation 
  • Selecting appropriate topics 
  • Taking turns speaking 
  • Understanding nonverbal cues 
  • Ending a conversation 

Changes in pitch, tone or emphasis that indicate emotions and attitudes may be difficult to perform or understand. A person may even lose the ability to use the muscles necessary to form words. 

  1. Sensory issues

People rely on their senses to perceive and interpret the world around them, so when they suffer vision, hearing, smell and taste changes, they may not be able to function well or at all. Vertigo, balance issues, impaired hand-eye coordination and difficulty recognizing objects are also common sensory changes that accompany a catastrophic TBI.