What are the Effects of Brain Injuries after a Car Accident?

Posted on
Brain Injuries

According to one source, more than half of reported traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in the United States happen as a result of a car accident. Brain injuries occur when the skull is fractured by the force of the crash or penetrated by another object, or when the brain collides against the skull causing serious bruising or bleeding.

Unlike other types of car accident injuries, head injuries can impact a person’s mental, physical, and emotional health in many ways.

Types of Brain Injuries

It is not uncommon for passengers to suffer head injuries during a car accident. Some injuries are immediately obvious after an accident. Others, especially closed head injuries, may not show signs or symptoms right away. But every head injury is serious.

Although there are a large number of conditions and injuries that can potentially involve the brain, the following are some of the most common head injuries that occur in motor vehicle accidents.

Concussion. A concussion is a type of brain injury caused by a blow to the head, as in a fall, during a contact sport, or in a car accident.

Within the skull, the human brain rests in cerebrospinal fluid, which protects it from minor bumps and jolts.  But a sudden blow can cause the head to move too quickly in one direction or another, forcing the brain against the inside of the skull. That can lead to bleeding in and around the brain.  Although some people will lose consciousness with a concussion, most do not.

The signs of a concussion vary widely from person to person and can come on quickly or develop in the hours and days after the initial impact. They may include:

  • Amnesia surrounding the accident
  • Blurry vision
  • Concentration problems
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Personality changes
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Slurred speech

After a concussion, rest is the primary means of treatment. That means mental rest to give the brain time to recover, and physical rest to prevent symptoms from worsening and avoid another impact to the head. Gradually, the patient can resume activity over time as concussion symptoms decrease.

Diffuse axonal injury. A diffuse axonal injury (DAI) happens when the brain shakes back and forth violently, causing brain structures to tear. A concussion is a milder example of this type of injury. But some DAIs are so severe they leave the victim in a coma for a long period, along with injuries to various parts of the brain.

Intracranial hematoma. An intracranial hematoma is a blood clot near or around the brain. There are different types of hematomas, which are classified by the part of the brain where they develop.

An epidural hematoma, for example, occurs underneath the skull and usually forms as the result of a tear in an artery, often associated with a skull fracture. An intracerebral hematoma is a contusion, or bruise, to the brain itself causing swelling and bleeding inside the brain around the area of the brain that sustained trauma.

Penetration. Penetration injuries happen when an object pierces the skull and into the brain. In a car accident, that object can be a piece of metal or glass from a vehicle or any object that becomes airborne during a collision.

These injuries are easily visible and may come with heavy bleeding from the head and ears, loss of movement in the limbs, and unconsciousness. Surgery is often necessary to remove broken pieces of skull, remove foreign objects, drain blood, and ease pressure from swelling.

Skull fracture. A skull fracture is a break in the skull bone. There are different types of skull fractures, which are classified by how severe they are and where they are located. Skull fractures in which the bone breaks but does not move may not warrant any treatment beyond a few days of rest. Others require surgery to correct a noticeable skull deformity.

Long-Term Effects of Brain Injuries

The human brain contains billions of nerve cells arranged in patterns that coordinate everything from emotions and behavior, to thoughts, movements, and sensations. These complex messages travel from the brain across a highway system of nerves to different parts of the body, often in as little as a split-second.

A brain injury is any injury that destroys or deteriorates these precious cells. Without those cells, those vital connections between the brain and rest of the body are interrupted, sometimes permanently.

Here are some sobering statistics regarding brain injuries from the Brain Injury Association of America.

Every year in the United States:

  • An estimated 2.6 million people experience some type of brain injury as a result of illness, stroke, tumor, or trauma.
  • More than five million people with TBI require assistance performing daily activities.
  • Even in cases of mild brain injury, 15 percent of people will have persistent symptoms more than a year after the initial trauma.
  • Around 52,000 people die of traumatic brain injury.

Four Types of Brain Damage

Some signs of brain damage are localized around the initial injury, whereas other impact different areas of the body. Symptoms of brain damage are generally classified in four categories.

  • Cognitive: Including memory loss, shortened attention span, impaired decision-making, difficulty processing thoughts and information.
  • Perceptual: Including smell and taste disorders; balance problems; increased sensitivity to pain; changes in hearing, vision, or touch.
  • Physical: Including slurred speech, sleep problems, tremors and seizures, extreme mental or physical fatigue, persistent headaches.
  • Behavioral and emotional: Including flat or heightened emotions, low tolerance for stress, impatience and irritability, and increased aggressiveness.

Brain Injury Diagnosis and Treatment

Anyone who experiences trauma to the head should always get immediate medical attention. Brain injuries are a bit mysterious in that those that seem obviously severe, such as a penetrating injury, may not actually be as serious as those less obvious injuries, like a serious concussion.

The key to evaluating the severity of a brain injury is determining the location and extent of the damage. To diagnose a brain injury, doctors use neuropsychological assessments, neuroimaging testing such as an MRI or CT scan, and a neurological examination.

When treating a brain injury, the doctor’s immediate goals are to stabilize the patient, control blood pressure, and ensure that blood and oxygen are reaching the brain. Some patients need surgery to treat a serious brain injury and prevent further damage.

From there, most patients with a brain injury undergo a rehabilitative treatment plan that includes a combination of:

  • Language and speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy

Many patients find counseling and other types of psychological support to be beneficial after brain trauma. It can help them process the physical, emotional, and mental changes that come with a serious brain injury.

How can I Protect Against a Brain Injury in the Car?

The quickest and most effective way to protect against a TBI in the car is to buckle up. Seat belts keep occupants from getting thrown around inside or ejected from the vehicle during a collision.

And it is just as important for passengers in the second and third rows to buckle up as well. In a high-impact collision, unrestrained bodies can become deadly projectiles slamming into those around them. Everyone should buckle up on every ride. It is that simple.

Car Accident Claims for Brain Injuries

Most brain injuries require ongoing treatment. When the condition is the result of a car accident caused by a careless driver, the injured victim may have cause to bring a claim for damages. Anyone who has been injured and wants to learn more about the personal injury claim process should consult a respected car accident lawyer in their community for guidance.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Brain Injury Victims Recover after a Serious Accident

If you or a loved one suffered a serious head injury in any type of motor vehicle accident, the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can help. We know these injuries require long-term care and rehabilitation. That is why we use every legal tool available to build a strong case for damages. Hospitalization, medication, and therapy costs can be extensive. Let our team fight for the compensation you deserve. Call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free case review today.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s  County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.