Head Trauma After an Accident: What You Need To Know
You do not have to be involved in a severe car accident to suffer head trauma, and even a minor fender bender can jolt you back and forth in your seat, resulting in neurological damage. Even if you feel fine after the accident, it doesn’t necessarily mean you get a clean bill of health. Some neurological symptoms take time to develop. Sometimes, post-accident neurological symptoms don’t appear until a few weeks after the accident. If you’re involved in a car collision, here are some symptoms associated with head trauma to watch for. We’ll also cover what steps you should take to help compensate you for your injuries.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists motor vehicle crashes as a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in adults, teens, and children. What is a traumatic brain injury? The medical term refers to an injury or dysfunction in the brain caused by an external force. A TBI in an auto accident can be caused by your head hitting the dashboard or windshield. Severe and sudden whiplash can also cause neurological issues.
The injury occurs as your brain is moving around in your head. Picture water sloshing around in a glass as you tilt the container from side to side. Your brain can slide inside your skull, developing bruises, bleeding, or even tears. Even after the vehicle has stopped moving, traumatic brain injuries can occur.
Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development notes traumatic brain injuries can display various symptoms. Some symptoms may develop immediately following the accident, while others can take weeks to appear.
Some of the most common neurological symptoms include the following:
- Loss of consciousness, as even blacking out for a couple of seconds can indicate a more severe injury;
- Feeling confused and disoriented;
- Persistent headaches;
- Vomiting and nausea;
- Constantly feeling tired;
- Difficulty sleeping for more than an hour or so;
- Sleeping longer than usual;
- Feeling dizzy or experiencing difficulty with balance;
- Blurry vision and ringing in the ears;
- Extreme sensitivity to light and sound;
- Frequent changes in mood;
- Trouble concentrating;
- Memory problems;
- Feeling anxious or depressed;
- Dilation of one or both pupils;
- Fluid draining from your ears or nose;
These are only some of the common symptoms associated with traumatic brain injuries. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consulting with your physician is in your best interest.
Recovering From a Traumatic Brain Injury
Recovering from a traumatic brain injury will take time and hard work, and some individuals may never fully recover from a TBI. At the same time, your physician will prescribe a regimented treatment plan. This is a healthcare plan you want to follow. Your health is not something to take lightly, especially when recovering from neurological damage. While every treatment plan is different, and all injuries are unique, some aspects are similar.
Medications are typically prescribed for secondary brain injuries, which is a type of brain injury when symptoms are not immediately apparent. These symptoms can take days or weeks to appear. If you’re experiencing seizures, anti-seizure medication may be prescribed, usually taken for the first week after the accident. Sometimes, fluid and pressure in and around the brain are an issue. When this happens, you may be prescribed a diuretic. The medication helps relieve pressure and drain the fluid so your brain can continue to heal.
When the brain injury is severe, you may be placed into a coma; this type of coma-inducing medication is temporary but gives your brain time to start healing.
Severe and even minor neurological injuries may require surgery. Sometimes, the surgery is scheduled immediately after the accident. Other times, your physician may wait until your body begins to heal and you become stronger.
There are different types of surgeries to address various issues, including:
- Repairing fractures to the skull. The surgery can also involve removing skull fragments from the brain
- Stopping bleeding in the brain
- They are removing blood clots (hematomas). Blood clots can place pressure on the brain, damaging the delicate tissue.
Another type of brain surgery will open a small hole in the skull. This type of surgery is often performed when the brain is swollen or a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid occurs.
Rehabilitation therapy is almost always a part of the recovery process after a traumatic brain injury. You should expect to visit at least one specialist.
Your specialist may help you improve mobility, relearn how to speak and read, or perform simple everyday tasks. Your support network of friends and family may also visit a rehabilitation specialist. Their specialist will help them understand your traumatic brain injury and recommend ways they can help support your recovery.
Steps to Take After an Accident Resulting in Head Trauma
When your traumatic brain injury results from someone’s negligence, there are some steps you should take to ensure you receive compensation. You may not be able to perform some steps due to your injury, but there are some you do not want to ignore.
Save Your Medical Records
Keep all of your medical records, even recipients for prescriptions. If you plan on filing for damages, this information is necessary to support your personal injury case. It’s also a good idea to make copies of the documents or have someone take care of them for you—this way, you’re prepared when the other side requests disclosure. This is when both sides, yourself and the defendant, exchange information about the case.
Contact an Attorney
Contacting an attorney is an essential step you don’t want to put off. You have a potentially lengthy recovery process, and you need someone on your side to handle your injury claim. From negotiating with the insurance company to filing the paperwork, your attorney will take care of everything else so that you can properly concentrate on your health and healing from your injuries.