Car crashes often cause a variety of traumatic injuries. Traumatic brain injury can be a real possibility, even if you do not recall hitting your head or have external signs of trauma.
TBI can have long-range, serious consequences on your life, which are often not immediately apparent in the aftermath of the accident. Even mild TBI can substantially affect your ability to earn money and enjoy your life.
Even if you go to the emergency room right after the crash, you may not get a TBI diagnosis, especially if it is mild. Symptoms may begin appearing several hours or several months later. Thus, it is important to make a follow-up appointment with a doctor who can conduct a comprehensive checkup.
In cases of mild TBI, a person may suffer unconsciousness for up to 30 minutes. In many cases, this period can be as short as a few seconds. In the stress and confusion of the accident scene, this brief period and any accompanying disorientation can go unnoticed.
Watching for changes
Following the accident, it is important to monitor your physical and emotional health. Warning signs of TBI include headaches; fatigue; increased drowsiness; nausea; irritability; lack of focus; and various levels of impairment in speech, memory or movement. Different people may experience some of these and other symptoms in various combinations. While changes can occur due to other causes as well, it is prudent to note potential symptoms and see a doctor.
Effects on your life
Even mild TBI can disrupt your working and personal life. Mood swings, memory and speech impairments, and persistent pain can all create problems at work and make it difficult to sustain employment or advance in your career. These things can also impact your ability to build and nurture relationships with friends and family.
Treatments for TBI can vary and typically focus on improving symptoms, as there is currently no reliable way to repair damaged brain cells. You may need to take medications, attend rehabilitative therapy sessions or use assistive devices. Some people need at-home assistance.