As the victim of a car accident, you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury that continues to impact your life in many ways. The forces involved in collisions can cause the brain to collide with the inside of the skull, resulting in bruising, bleeding, and damage to the brain cells and neural connections. The severity of a brain injury depends on the nature of the accident and forces involved. Even a mild traumatic brain injury from a car accident can have serious consequences and long-term effects. A car accident lawyer will have the experience to help you get started.
The most common types of brain injuries from auto accidents include concussions, contusions, and diffuse axonal injuries. A concussion is a temporary loss of normal brain function caused by a blow or jolt to the head. Contusions are bruises on the surface of the brain or at the point of impact inside the skull. Diffuse axonal injuries involve damage to the neural pathways in the brain. Any of these injuries may result in temporary or permanent cognitive, physical or emotional impairments that diminish your quality of life.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury or Concussion
A mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), also known as a concussion, is a common injury resulting from car accidents. An MTBI occurs when the brain is shaken inside the skull from an impact, causing damage. The severity can range from mild to severe, but the good news is that most people recover fully.
The signs and symptoms of an MTBI may appear immediately or take hours to develop. They include:
- Headache or feeling of pressure in the head
- Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurry vision or ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech or delayed responses
The majority of people with a mild brain injury can recover with adequate rest and time. It's best to avoid any strenuous mental or physical activity so your brain has time to heal. See a doctor right away if symptoms get worse or last more than a few days. They can examine you, run tests if needed, and refer you to a neurologist or brain injury rehabilitation specialist for severe or persistent symptoms.
While most people recover from a concussion, some experience post-concussion syndrome, which includes symptoms that linger for weeks or months. Repeated head injuries can also cause long-term damage, so talk to your doctor about when it's safe to return to normal activities and how to prevent future injuries. Your brain is too important, so take the time to heal and protect it.
Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury
A moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI) is damage to the brain as a result of a car accident that leads to physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms that persist for weeks or months. The impact to the head in a collision can cause the brain to move rapidly back and forth, which in turn causes swelling, bleeding, and tearing of brain cells.
You may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth, and fatigue. Cognitively, you may notice problems with memory, concentration, and decision making. Emotionally, you may feel more irritable, anxious, or depressed.
\n\n### Diagnosis and Treatment
Moderate TBIs are diagnosed through a neurological exam, imaging tests like CT scans or MRIs, and by evaluating symptoms. Treatment focuses on managing symptoms and promoting healing. This includes:
•Rest - Getting extra sleep and limiting physical activity and mental stimulation.
•Medication - To relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve mood, etc.
•Rehabilitation - Occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and counseling or psychotherapy. Rehab helps retrain the brain and teach coping strategies.
•Follow-up care - Seeing a doctor for checkups and monitoring progress. Additional scans or tests may be ordered if symptoms worsen or persist longer than expected.
The good news is most people with moderate TBIs recover fully or experience major improvements with treatment and time. However, some effects may linger or be permanent. Close follow up with your doctor is key. If you've been in an auto accident and are experiencing symptoms of a head injury, see your doctor right away for an evaluation and proper diagnosis and care.
Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
A severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most serious types of head injuries that can result from a car accident. This level of TBI means there has been significant damage to the brain that requires immediate emergency medical attention and often hospitalization.
Loss of Consciousness
With a severe TBI from a car crash, the victim experiences an extended loss of consciousness for longer than 24 hours. The impact to the head was forceful enough to cause substantial harm to the brain’s structure and functioning. The person is unresponsive and unarousable during this time.
In the most extreme cases, the damage to the brain is so severe that the person enters a coma. A coma is a state of complete unresponsiveness, where the individual is unaware of themselves or their environment. They do not open their eyes, speak, or follow commands. Comas require life support and intensive medical care.
Other signs of a serious TBI include seizures or convulsions, fluid buildup in the brain, blood vessel damage, and brain swelling. The impact of the crash may have also caused skull fractures, bleeding in the brain, or bruising of the brain tissue. Memory loss, impaired thinking, emotional problems, and loss of coordination are common effects that can persist long after the injury.
Severe TBIs frequently require rehabilitation and therapy to re-learn skills and cope with permanent disabilities. Unfortunately, some brain damage cannot be reversed. However, with time and treatment, significant improvements are possible. The road to recovery will be challenging, but with support, hard work, and perseverance, car accident victims can heal and adapt to life after a traumatic brain injury.
Anoxic Brain Injury
An anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen. This type of traumatic brain injury can occur during a car accident if blood flow to the brain is disrupted or blocked. When the brain is starved of oxygen, brain cells start to die within minutes. The longer the brain goes without oxygen, the greater the damage.
Effects of an Anoxic Brain Injury
The effects of an anoxic brain injury range from mild to severe, depending on how long the brain lacked oxygen. Some potential effects include:
- Impaired thinking, memory, and reasoning. Difficulty concentrating and making decisions.
- Physical disabilities like muscle spasms, loss of coordination, and difficulty swallowing or speaking.
- Changes in behavior and personality. Irritability, emotional instability, depression, and mood swings are common.
- Coma or vegetative state. In severe cases of oxygen deprivation, a person may never regain consciousness or have very limited brain function.
The outcomes for an anoxic brain injury largely depend on the severity of oxygen deprivation and how quickly oxygen flow was restored. With prompt emergency treatment, some brain cells can recover over time. However, anoxic brain damage is often permanent to some degree. Ongoing physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and counseling may help improve functioning and quality of life.
If you or a loved one suffered an anoxic brain injury due to negligent or reckless behavior in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, treatment, and other damages. Speaking with a personal injury attorney regarding your legal options and next steps is advisable. They can review the details of your accident, determine fault, and help you pursue a personal injury claim to recover damages related to your anoxic brain injury.
Diffuse Axonal Injury
Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) occurs when sudden acceleration or deceleration of the brain causes damage to axons, which are nerve fibers in the brain that allow neurons to communicate with each other. This disrupts the brain’s internal communication network, often impairing cognition, physical abilities, and behavior.
DAI frequently happens in car accidents, especially with high-speed impacts or sudden stops. As the head shakes violently back and forth in a collision, the brain bumps against the inside of the skull, shearing and tearing axons throughout the brain. This causes microscopic lesions that disrupt neural pathways.
Symptoms of DAI may appear right away or take hours, days, or weeks to become evident. Common signs include:
- Loss of consciousness or coma
- Persistent vegetative state
- Slowed thinking, impaired memory, poor concentration and judgment
- Changes in behavior and emotional regulation
- Weakness, impaired coordination, and difficulty with balance or walking
- Vision issues like double vision, blurred vision, or loss of peripheral vision
The severity of DAI symptoms depends on which axons were damaged and the degree of injury. Mild DAI may cause temporary impairment, while severe DAI can result in permanent disability or death. Unfortunately, the widespread damage from DAI often cannot be detected on standard CT or MRI scans, though new imaging techniques are improving diagnosis and treatment.
If you experience symptoms of DAI after a motor vehicle accident, seek immediate medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment offer the best chance at recovery and preventing long-term impairment or disability. An experienced personal injury attorney can also help you pursue compensation for your injuries.
Call Fletcher Law For Help With Your Brain Injury Case
If you have suffered a brain injury in a car accident, it’s important to understand the different types of injuries that could have occurred. The severity and specifics of your brain injury will determine the best course of treatment and impact the value of your personal injury claim.
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury caused by a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the brain’s normal functioning. Concussions are usually not life-threatening but can cause headaches, confusion, memory loss, and impaired thinking or concentration. With rest, most concussion symptoms will resolve within a few days or weeks. However, some effects may persist longer or become permanent.
A brain contusion is a bruise on the brain tissue itself, caused by the brain rattling against the inside of the skull during impact. Contusions can be minor or severe, ranging from small petechiae (tiny burst blood vessels) to hematomas (pools of blood). Contusions often cause problems with cognition, speech, mobility, and emotion regulation. They require close monitoring and sometimes surgical intervention.
Diffuse Axonal Injury
Diffuse axonal injury or DAI refers to widespread damage to axons, which are nerve fibers in the brain that allow neurons to communicate with each other. DAI is caused by the brain violently moving back and forth inside the skull, shearing and tearing axons. It can lead to a vegetative state or coma. DAI often has a poor prognosis for recovery and significant long-term disability.
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury in a car accident, the legal team at Fletcher Law can help determine the cause and severity of injury, and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call today for a free consultation about your brain injury case.