About 4.4 million people suffered serious injuries in car accidents in 2019, according to the National Safety Council. In many cases, the force and impact of a car accident can cause damage to the brain, leading to life-changing outcomes.
Types of Car Accident Traumatic Brain Injuries
Even a small bump on the head is considered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) if it causes short- or long-term damage to brain function. These injuries range from mild to severe, depending on the extensiveness of the injury and the length of time a person is unconscious.
There are two general types of traumatic brain injury: closed and penetrating.
- In a closed injury, the force of impact causes damage to the brain without the tissue being directly touched by a fractured bone or a foreign object. For example, the sudden movement of a car accident—from moving quickly to stopping hard—can lead to damage to the nerve cells of the brain. The brain’s rapid forward and backward movement like this causes shearing of the white matter, often leading to significant damage like a coma. Some suffer a persistent vegetative state while others die from this type of damage.
- In a penetrating injury, something enters the skull and damages brain tissue. For example, it is possible for blood vessel and tissue damage to occur when the skull is broken open. Lacerations tend to bleed significantly and can lead to long-term damage.
Note that a concussion is considered a mild form of traumatic brain injury. Concussions often occur after a blow to the head or a jolt to the body that rocks the brain back and forth in the skull. Some have temporary symptoms, such as headaches. Others have confusion, fatigue, and damage to cognitive function.
Symptoms of a Brain Injury
Most types of traumatic brain injuries are found during emergency medical care after a car accident occurs. Some are very obvious, while others can manifest in the hours or days after a car accident. They may not have any visible signs, especially in injuries like concussions. It is important to watch for signs of a brain injury such as:
- Amnesia, forgetfulness, confusion, or trouble concentrating
- Abnormal laughing, aggression, sudden crying, lack of restraint, or unexpected changes in mood
- Blackouts, dizziness, balance problems, or fainting
- Dilated pupils, swollen or blackened eyes, or pupils of unequal sizes
- Nausea or vomiting
See a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms in the weeks following your accident.
Living With a Brain Injury
Some types of traumatic brain injuries require little intervention or healing. Others require a substantial amount of medical care. This includes surgical procedures, long-term hospital stays, and rehabilitation. Brain damage can impact virtually any area of the body, depending on where it occurs, as well as how severe it is. It is common for individuals to need:
- Speech therapy
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Psychiatric support
- Social support
Living with a brain injury can mean needing ongoing physical help, especially if the damage is permanent or debilitating. It may also mean a person cannot work or has lost quality of life. The most severe brain injuries can require 24/7 care, as the person is no longer able to live independently.
Your Car Accident Claim Should Include All of Your Losses
Each brain injury accident is unique, having a different outcome. That is why it is critical to have a Nebraska accident lawyer available to work closely with you to determine what you have lost. This may include losses related to medical needs immediately after the surgery, as well as changes to your long-term care and lifestyle. From medical bills to lost wages, there is help available to you.
Matthew A. Lathrop, PC, LLO, provides comprehensive support after serious car accidents in Nebraska. Call for a free consultation to discuss what’s happened to you and how you may be able to obtain compensation for your losses.