A car accident can cause a range of injuries, including cuts and scrapes and brain injuries. The severity of the injury will depend on a number of factors, including how fast you were traveling at the moment of impact and whether or not you were wearing a seat belt.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1.7 million TBIs occur each year in the United States. Over 80 percent of people who suffer a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) fully recover without any lasting physical or mental impairments. However, moderate to severe TBIs can cause long-term damage involving physical, mental, emotional, and cognitive deficits.
Brain injuries are extremely complex, and if you are fortunate to have only suffered a minor TBI, the effects may be mild and temporary. However, if the injury is more severe, the effects of the TBI can be life-changing. The following are examples of some of the potentially long-term effects of a serious TBI.
A severe TBI can cause debilitating physical impairments, including paralysis, seizures, chronic pain, difficulty swallowing, sleep disorders, and difficulty regulating body temperature. This can significantly compromise your quality of life, particularly if the impairments are permanent.
Severe TBIs can also cause ongoing problems with memory, concentration, language processing, and the ability to process information. Those who have TBIs may also become impulsive, confused, and easily distracted.
Speech and Language Deficits
In some cases, even a mild TBI can cause slurred speech, aphasia, and difficulties with reading comprehension. In more serious TBIs, these deficits are likely to be permanent or involve a longer recovery period.
Hearing and Vision Impairments
Brain injuries can also cause partial or total hearing loss, as well as an increased sensitivity to certain sounds. Vision problems, including blurred vision, diplopia, involuntary eye movement, problems judging distance, and a loss of vision can also be side effects of a serious TBI.
When the brain suffers a serious injury, it can result in a range of sensory issues, like difficulty perceiving temperature and distinguishing between touch and pressure sensations.
Changes in Behavior
It is also common for those who have TBIs to experience behavioral changes, extreme mood swings, depression, and unexpected moments of aggression and irritability. There is some evidence to suggest that people who have suffered a concussion or a more moderate to severe brain injury may be more likely to experience memory loss later in life.
What Are the Common Symptoms of a TBI?
If you are in a serious car accident and you suffered a head injury, you may have very obvious symptoms that warrant immediate medical attention. However, some TBI symptoms appear hours or even days later.
Some common signs of a mild TBI:
- Blurry vision.
- Dizziness or difficulty balancing.
- Sensitivity to light or sound.
- Neck pain.
- Ringing in the ears.
The following are symptoms of a moderate to severe TBI:
- Bleeding from anywhere on the head.
- Dilated pupils.
- Eyes do not track properly.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Convulsions or seizures.
How Are TBIs Diagnosed?
The majority of TBIs are diagnosed as concussions. Since there is no definite test that confirms a concussion diagnosis with 100 percent accuracy, doctors diagnose your condition by observing you, identifying common symptoms associated with TBIs, and evaluating your reactions and responses. However, if you suffered a moderate to severe TBI in a car accident, there are a number of imaging tests that doctors will pursue to look for potentially life-threatening brain bleeds, swelling, and fractures. The following are the two most common types of imaging tests used to diagnose serious TBIs:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan: This test uses magnets and radio waves to examine soft tissue within the brain. It is generally used to look for minor brain bleeds, tumors, and excessive fluid in the brain. An MRI is not usually the best scan to start with immediately following a severe head injury.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan: This uses X-ray beams which can detect bleeding, swelling, and skull fractures. CT scans are usually ordered in emergency situations to determine whether emergency surgery is necessary or if the patient should be closely observed.
Is it Possible to Recover From a TBI?
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, about 60 percent of patients who suffered a moderate TBI recover with minimal lingering symptoms. However, it is important to understand that if you are going to make a full recovery, it will generally occur within six months to a year. Additionally, 33 percent of those with severe TBIs do not survive, and another 33 percent suffer moderate to severe disabilities.
Regardless of whether you suffered a mild concussion or a more serious TBI, it is important that you take the necessary time to recover and avoid putting any unnecessary stress on your brain. That means getting plenty of sleep so that the body can heal. If you are having trouble sleeping due to mood fluctuations and other factors, you are urged to seek treatment so that you are able to get the rest you need.
There are a number of therapy options that can help those who have TBIs make physical and cognitive improvements, including the following:
- Physical therapy: This can help build strength and improve balance and coordination that may have been affected by the injury.
- Occupational therapy: This incorporates a range of exercises that can help you learn or relearn how to perform daily tasks like eating, cooking, bathing, getting dressed, or using the bathroom.
- Speech therapy: Speech is often affected by a TBI, and this type of therapy can help you learn how to form sounds and words and communicate more efficiently if your speech is still affected. Speech therapists can also teach you skills that you can use if you suffer from dysphagia or trouble swallowing.
- Cognitive therapy: This type of therapy incorporates a range of exercises and tools that help you improve memory, attention, perception, and judgement.
- Vocational counseling: Depending on the type and severity of your injury, you may be unable to return to work in the same capacity as before your injury. You may need to learn new skills in order to continue to participate in the workforce. This will help you learn those skills, identify work opportunities, and manage specific workplace challenges that may arise.
- Psychological counseling: This is extremely important for those who have TBIs since it is very common to suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other psychological and emotional conditions.
The brain is an extremely complex organ, and injuries involving the brain can show up years later. This can make it very difficult to prove that the injury was caused by a car accident. However, a skilled car accident lawyer can help you navigate the claims process and protect your rights.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Advocate for Those Who Have Accident-Related TBIs
If you suffered a TBI after being involved in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact one of our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.