If you’re able to get out of the vehicle and walk away from an accident you experience, you may already feel very fortunate. Serious collisions can prove fatal or can cause very painful, obvious injuries. Spinal injuries and broken bones are injuries commonly associated with car crashes. Drivers and passengers know to check themselves and one another for signs of fractures or mobility issues.
It is less common for people to know and watch for the signs of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). However, there are many ways in which a crash could cause a brain injury. Blunt force trauma from your head striking the vehicle, violent shaking or rolling motions, and even penetrating injuries caused by shrapnel from the crash could all result in a TBI that could impact your health and quality of life indefinitely.
Early diagnosis and treatment improve the prognosis for people with some kinds of TBIs. Therefore, you need to watch yourself and your family members carefully after a crash, especially because symptoms can take some time to become obvious.
An injury to your brain can cause a wide range of symptoms
It is a straightforward process to determine if you have a fracture or spinal injury. A spinal injury will cause either intense nerve pain or a lack of control and sensation below the injury site, while a broken bone can prevent you from using or putting weight on a limb or extremity. Brain injuries often produce no visible symptoms right after a crash.
Although the media loves to dramatize head injuries by showing people with blood running from their ears and nose after a crash, the signs of the TBI are usually not that obvious. In fact, you may not notice them for days or even weeks after the accident. The bleeding and bruising on the brain can lead to increased pressure and more bruising or injury over time.
Symptoms can worsen, and new symptoms can arise. Warning signs of a potential brain injury can include:
- Sensory symptoms like ringing ears or blurry vision
- Memory loss
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Sleeping far more than normal
- Changes in mood or personality
- Problems with equilibrium or balance
Of course, the symptoms someone experiences will vary drastically depending on the part of the brain affected and the severity of the injury causing the symptoms. Even one or two of these symptoms without an explanation after a crash is an adequate reason to seek medical examination.
How can a brain injury affect your life?
A TBI isn’t like a broken bone. There is no straightforward, simple way in which medical professionals can undo or repair the damage. In some cases, surgery can alleviate the pressure in the skull. Other times, rehabilitative services, such as physical therapy, can help people regain strength, balance and motor function after a brain injury.
Still, even with excellent care, some of the symptoms could become permanent. In some cases, brain injuries leave people with mobility issues or cognitive issues that keep them from caring for themselves or working a job for the rest of their lives.