Few experiences are more shocking and confusing than a vehicle crash. From jamming out to your favorite song on the radio to waking up in the intensive care unit with shattered bones and no recollection of what brought you there.
Forget about your crumpled car. A machine can be fixed or replaced. Your broken leg should heal fine. But that bump on the head could be much more serious. Traumatic brain injuries betray physical and psychological damage that can be hard to recognize immediately after an accident but no less devastating to survivors and their loved ones.
Diagnose the symptoms
A fractured skull is an obvious traumatic brain injury. So is a bullet wound. But car accidents can cause more subtle impairments.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that 20% of all traumatic brain injuries were caused by motor-vehicle crashes. More people ages 15-44 were hospitalized because of traumatic brain injuries than any other ailment.
The violent force of a vehicle collision can make the skull hit the windshield or steering wheel and cause injuries that disrupt brain activity. Bleeding and bruising also can occur when the brain rattles against the interior skull. Doctors might not be able to diagnose those symptoms right away.
Other traumatic brain injury symptoms include:
- Headaches and seizures
- Confusion, disorientation, loss of consciousness
- Vomiting, nausea
- Ringing in the ears, blurred vision
- Sound and light sensitivity
- Memory loss
- Anxiety, mood swings, depression
- Oversleeping, insomnia
Talk to your doctor immediately if you suffer changes to your physical, cognitive or behavioral abilities following a blow to the head. It could take days or weeks for some symptoms to surface. But consequences could last a lifetime and severely impact your family or loved ones. Traumatic brain injuries cost about $76.5 billion in lifetime medical care.
Recovery and accountability
There can be many challenges if you suffer a head injury in a serious vehicle crash. You should not have to bear the financial burden alone if a reckless or distracted driver caused your injuries. Was there a defective part or design flaw that should have sidelined your vehicle?
Recovery should be your top priority, not worrying about battling an insurance company or providing for your family if you are out of work. Traumatic brain injuries can be sinister because you might not feel symptoms right away. But that does not mean you are out of danger.