Early Warning Signs of a Head Injury after an Automobile Accident

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[author: Michael Barasch]

More and more evidence emerges every year that even mild head injuries can lead to serious long-term consequences. You need not ever lose consciousness to have suffered a significant traumatic brain injury (TBI). Many people walk away from car accidents thinking they escaped unscathed, when in fact the sudden deceleration and jarring movement have jostled the brain within the skull, causing injury along the surface of the brain or where the brain attaches to the spinal cord. What follows are some early warning signs that should lead you to seek medical attention.

Changes in perception: These may be as mundane as increased sensitivity to light or sound, or as strange as olfactory hallucinations — perceiving smells that do not exist. You may also experience fuzzy or blurry vision, or even double vision.

Changes in memory: You may lose your recollection of the events surrounding the accident that caused the injury or of the days preceding the injury. You might also notice difficulty with run-of-the-mill short-term memory tasks, like inputting phone numbers or doing double-digit addition in your head. Your friends and family may tell you that you have been repeating yourself or repeatedly asking the same question.

Changes in mood: TBI-related mood changes include increased irritability and impatience, increased sadness and increased nervousness or anxiety. You may also experience more emotional volatility and moodiness.

Changes in thinking: You may feel mentally sluggish, or find you have unusual difficulty concentrating. You may have difficulty thinking clearly or be easily distracted.

Changes to sleep: TBIs disrupt the complex mechanisms that allow us to have restorative sleep. You may find yourself sleeping more than usual, sleeping less than usual or having unusual difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Physical changes: You may experience dizziness, headaches, fatigue, nausea or vomiting. You may also notice tingling in your extremities, an unsteady gait or weakness in your arms or legs.

At the first sign of these or similar changes in thinking, perception, memory, sleep or physical well-being after an accident, you should immediately seek medical help. You should also seek legal help in pursuing fair compensation for your damages. Our experienced attorneys can provide the legal guidance you need.