Traumatic brain injuries are one of the most severe and traumatic injuries someone can go through.
According to the CDC, there are at least 1.7 million TBIs every year, either as an isolated injury or along with other injuries.
How do people sustain traumatic brain injuries?
Car accidents are the second leading cause of TBIs, making up 17.3% each year, right after falls, which make up just over 35% of traumatic brain injuries.
TBIs are usually caused by a violent blow or jolt to your head or body, which is very common during a car accident.
In the article below, we will talk about the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries in car accidents and when you should contact a car accident attorney.
Which Car Accidents Can Result in TBIs?
During a car accident, you will typically be subjected to a sudden, violent movement.
This can cause your head to come into contact with your steering wheel, dashboard, or window, or a free-flying object could hit you.
A widespread injury to occur during these movements is whiplash.
Whiplash occurs when your head is violently thrown backward and then forward due to a force from behind.
When this happens, your brain could strike the inside of your skull at high speed, resulting in mild to moderate symptoms of a TBI.
Neck and back pain is also very common.
A front-end collision can also cause your vehicle to stop abruptly.
You will continue to move forward at the same rate of speed you were traveling before the impact while your car comes to a sudden stop.
This can also cause your brain to slam against your skull with violent force.
Your brain is subject to injury, and so is your face.
A severe injury to the face is often accompanied by a traumatic injury to the brain.
In a side-impact collision, your head will be thrown in the direction of the impact.
So, if your car was struck on the driver's side, your head will be thrown to the left.
This forces your brain to strike the right side of your skull and then back again, hitting the left side of your skull.
Your head trauma will be different depending on where your car is struck during a side-impact collision.
Being struck directly in the side will be much more destructive than being struck further in the front or the rear of the vehicle.
If an accident victim hits their head against the window or an outside object, it can result in lacerations on the head or fractures to the skull.
Shards of glass, debris, or even bone fragments could enter their brain and result in devastating, life-threatening wounds.
These injuries are known as open head injuries.
Since your skull is on about a quarter of an inch thick, a blow to the head with the force of impact that accompanies most car accidents can result in catastrophic and long-term suffering and lead to a long road to recovery.
Types of TBIs in Car Accidents
A direct blow to the head or an injury like whiplash during a car crash can bruise your brain and cause damage to the internal tissue and blood vessels.
A bruise at the site of the impact is called a coup lesion.
When a car crash victim's brain is jolted on impact, it can rebound and hit the skull and cause what's referred to as a contrecoup lesion.
This jarring of the brain against your skull can tear your brain's internal lining along with the tissues and blood vessels.
This could cause internal bleeding, bruising, or swelling of the brain.
Penetrating head injuries caused by foreign objects can fracture your skull and rip into brain tissue.
Any damage to the brain resulting from trauma is a traumatic brain injury.
TBI injuries are divided into three levels of head injury:
- Mild TBI or Concussions – A relatively mild and temporary condition that's marked by headache and issues with balance, coordination, concentration, memory, or judgment. Most concussion victims will make a complete recovery after a bit of rest,. However, suffering multiple concussions will make you more susceptible to more serious injuries if they suffer another head injury.
- Moderate TBI and post-concussion syndrome – Concussion symptoms can sometimes last for a few months to a year or more after a head injury. This often leads to anxiety and depression.
- Severe TBI – Severe TBIs include closed-injury TBI caused by the brain moving within the skull and being harmed. Severe TBI also includes penetrating TBI, when a foreign object pierces the skull and brain tissue. These often lead to a loss of consciousness and much more dire side effects.
Evaluating and Diagnosing TBIs
Cases of mild traumatic brain injuries have been hard to detect by physicians and were commonly diagnosed based on the patient's self-evaluation until recently.
Many mild cases were erroneously disregarded as minor.
But new research has found that even a mild TBI can cause substantial cognitive deficiencies.
Research has also found that diffusion tensor imaging can accurately find the location of a mild TBI, allowing doctors to customize a treatment plan for each patient.
MRIs and CT scans can also help pinpoint areas of moderate to severe brain trauma.
Symptoms of Brain Injuries
The signs and symptoms of brain injuries after car accidents will differ depending on the crash's type and severity.
Your recovery time will also vary depending on the severity of your injury.
Common mild symptoms include:
- blurred vision
A moderate to severe case of TBI typically involves sensory deficiencies, changes in mood or sleep patterns, seizures, nausea, vomiting, numbness in the extremities, and increased confusion.
TBIs can lead to serious disabilities and even death in extreme circumstances, especially if they aren't treated right away.
Speak With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident that may have caused a TBI, the first thing you need to do is see a doctor.
After that, you need to speak with an experienced brain injury lawyer.
If the negligent actions of someone else caused your accident, you might be entitled to receive compensation for a TBI.