According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are a major cause of death and disability in the U.S. Traumatic brain injuries contribute to 30 percent of all injury deaths. One of the reasons for the prevalence of TBIs is that many different kinds of accidents can result in a head injury. Participation in sports, falls, assaults, being struck by an object, and motor vehicle accidents are all common causes of TBIs. While falls are the leading cause of deaths caused by TBIs, motor vehicle accidents come in second. They are the third-leading cause of non-fatal TBIs. If you or a loved one suffered a TBI in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, you need to understand the consequences and what you will need for optimal recovery.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
There are several different types of brain injuries, and all of them can be caused by a motor vehicle collision. The most common brain injuries include:
- Concussion. The most common type of brain injury, a concussion, can be caused by a blow to the head, violent shaking of the head, or force from something like whiplash. Concussions can vary in seriousness and result in permanent or temporary damage. Recovery can take several months or several years.
- Diffuse Axonal Injury. Caused by shaking or strong rotation of the head, this type of injury results in extensive tearing of nerve tissues throughout the brain. The victim could suffer a variety of functional impairments depending on where the tearing occurs in the brain. Rotational forces experienced in a car accident can lead to a diffuse axonal brain injury.
- Coup-Contrecoup Injury. This type of injury results in contusions that are at both the site of the impact and on the complete opposite side of the brain. This occurs when the force impacting the head causes a contusion at the site of impact and is able to move the brain and cause it to slam into the opposite side of the skull, which causes the additional contusion.
- Penetrating Injury. Most commonly caused by a gunshot, these injuries can also be caused by the debris in a catastrophic collision penetrating the skull. These injuries are often fatal, but can also cause permanent impairments to those who survive.
Not all of these injuries are immediately apparent to the victim or emergency responders. It’s important to know the symptoms of a TBI, as even a minor crash can result in brain damage.
Signs and Symptoms of Brain Injury
You do not have to have an open head wound or even lose consciousness to suffer a TBI. You do not even have to experience a blow to the head. After a car accident, it is vital that you watch for the following symptoms of a brain injury:
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Fuzzy or blurry vision
- Sleeping more than usual
- Feeling slow
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sleeping less than usual
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sensitivity to noise or light
- Balance problems
- Feeling more emotional
- Trouble falling asleep
- Difficulty remembering new information
- Feeling tired, having no energy
- Nervousness or anxiety
Obviously, if you lose consciousness in the accident, you should be assessed for a head injury immediately. Often symptoms of milder brain injuries do not surface for several days.
What You Will Need to Recover
Not only will you need extensive medical care to treat the immediate symptoms of the injury, you may need long-term therapy to adjust to the changes caused by the accident. For some types of TBIs, a full recovery is not possible and the victim will need personal care and assistance for a lifetime. Living with a TBI can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. If your car accident was caused by another party, you may be able to recover a significant amount of money to pay your ongoing expenses. Call the experienced Indiana car accident attorneys at Keller & Keller to discuss the process for filing a claim and to start down the road to recovery.