The aftermath of a serious semi-truck accident can be catastrophic, culminating in serious and potentially life-altering injuries. However, not all accident-related injuries present immediate symptoms. According to some estimates, motor vehicle collisions are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. While these injuries are often invisible, they can have a lasting impact, growing progressively worse over the course of days, weeks, or months.
Semi-Truck Accidents and Traumatic Brain Injuries
The term traumatic brain injury is used to describe a wide range of head- and brain-related injuries. Traumatic brain injuries vary both in severity and in effect. Physicians typically categorize traumatic brain injuries as either of the following:
- Closed brain injury. A closed brain injury occurs when the brain sustains damage without being physically penetrated by a foreign object or fragmented bone. Most closed brain injuries are caused by the rapid, back-and-forth movement of the head. A disproportionate percentage of closed brain injuries result from automobile accidents.
- Penetrating brain injury. A penetrating brain injury, or open head injury, occurs when the skull has been penetrated or otherwise broken by traumatic force. A semi-truck accident could cause penetrating brain injuries if a victim hits their head forcefully against a fixed object or is struck by flying crash debris.
Closed brain injuries and penetrating brain injuries can both lead to long-term or chronic disability.
The Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries can have a latent period, wherein accident victims experience few—if any—noticeable physical symptoms. If and when symptoms do begin to emerge, they could be:
The most common signs of a traumatic brain injury include:
- Blurred vision
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Unexplained mood changes and mood swings
Some traumatic brain injury-related symptoms, such as headache and confusion, tend to begin immediately after an injury occurs. However, other symptoms—especially cognitive and emotional symptoms—may only emerge in recovery.
The Different Types of Semi-Truck Accident Traumatic Brain Injuries
The most common types of semi-truck accident-related traumatic brain injuries include, but are not limited to, the following:
A brain contusion, or cerebral contusion, is a type of lesion that can cause bleeding inside the brain. Most people diagnosed with cerebral contusions experience a loss of consciousness at the time of injury.
Even with the right treatment, brain contusions can cause significant medical complications, including intracranial swelling. However, the symptoms of a brain contusion are not always immediately noticeable.
Coup and Contrecoup Injuries
Coup and contrecoup injuries are usually caused by a direct blow to the head.
A coup injury is a bruise or contusion at the initial site of injury. If the resulting force pushes the brain backward, it could strike the skull, causing another injury—a contrecoup injury—on the opposite side of the brain.
Coup-contrecoup injuries can cause shearing of the brain’s internal lining, tissue damage, and internal bleeding, alongside other complications.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. If the head is moved violently, the brain could “bounce” inside the skull, creating chemical changes that can alter or otherwise damage brain cells.
Concussions are sometimes described as minor injuries. However, concussions—just like brain contusions and other types of traumatic brain injuries—can have serious long-term effects. People who have suffered concussions may be at higher risk for certain neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Diffuse Axonal Injuries
A diffuse axonal injury is caused by the tearing of the brain’s connecting nerve fibers, called axons. Diffuse axonal injuries can occur if the brain shifts or rotates inside the skull. These injuries are almost always serious.
People who have suffered diffuse axonal injuries may never recover. Medical researchers have characterized expected diffuse axonal injury outcomes as poor. Intensive treatment is often necessary but does not guarantee any significant improvement in neurophysiological function. Patients may face lifelong disability and struggle to find stable employment or maintain healthy relationships with friends and family.