One serious and devastating possible result of a car accident is a traumatic brain injury. In fact, over half of all reported traumatic brain injuries are the result of a car accident.
Traumatic brain injuries occur from any force that penetrates or fractures the skull. Therefore, the skull does not necessarily need to be fractured in a car accident for a TBI to occur. The brain may collide against the internal skull bone from the force of the accident, which can cause bruising or bleeding inside the brain that is not apparent at the time of the injury.
Types of traumatic brain injuries and resulting brain damage
Penetrating injuries and closed head injuries are the two main types of traumatic brain injuries. Penetrating injuries occur when a foreign object enters the brain and causes damage to specific portions. Closed head injuries are caused by a blow to the head, such as the skull hitting the windshield or steering wheel in a car accident.
Two types of brain damage occur with a traumatic brain injury: primary and secondary. Primary brain damage is complete at the time of impact and may include:
- Skull fractures
- Bruises or contusions
- Blood clots
- Nerve damage
Secondary brain damage is not immediately apparent and may progress over time. Symptoms include:
- Brain swelling
- Low or high blood pressure
- Low sodium
- Cardiac or lung changes
Problems associated with traumatic brain injuries
In addition to physical problems, traumatic brain injuries can result in communication and cognitive issues. A person with a traumatic brain injury may experience headaches, hearing loss, seizures, or vomiting. Certain sensory functions are also commonly affected, including sense of taste and smell. A traumatic brain injury victim may also experience coordination issues.
Communication issues include problems with speaking, reading and writing. Understanding common social cues can also be an issue. Problems can occur with:
- Maintaining, taking turns in, or keeping up with a conversation
- Using an appropriate tone of voice
- Responding to facial expressions
A person suffering from a traumatic brain injury may also have difficulty speaking due to weakened muscles of the lips and tongue.
Cognitive issues are also typical. Traumatic brain injury victims frequently have very little self-awareness and may suffer from memory problems. While memories of events before the accident are usually unaffected, problems with recent memory are common. It is also difficult for a person with a traumatic brain injury to pay attention and to perform higher-level tasks such as long-term planning and goal setting.
If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury due to a car accident, it is wise to seek out the counsel of an experienced Tennessee personal injury attorney. An attorney can help you to assess your options and to pursue possible compensation.