One of the most unfortunate injuries associated with auto accidents, falls and other types of accidents is TBI or traumatic brain injury. In general, TBI can mean a number of different types of impairment, but a simple definition is an alteration or impairment of the brain’s functioning due to a severe blow or jolt to the head. There is a wide range of severity associated with TBI. This can include anything from brief alterations or losses of consciousness to memory loss or amnesia.
Individuals with severe TBI may experience major shifts in behavior or mood, extended bouts of confusion, and severely diminished nervous system functions. According to the American Congress of Rehabilitative Medicine, cases of mild or moderate TBI entail at least one of these symptoms:
- Loss of memory from the time immediately before or following the accident
- Any loss of consciousness
- Focal neurological deficits
- Altered mental state at the time of the accident, such as disorientation
Mayo Clinic lists the following as symptoms of moderate to severe TBI:
- Prolonged periods of lost consciousness (even several hours)
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Trouble waking from sleep
- Seizures or convulsions
- Chronic or increasingly frequent headaches
- Dilated pupils (could be one or both eyes)
- Fluid drainage from ears or nose
- Diminished coordination
- Numbness in toes or fingers
Victims suffering from TBI may experience noticeable changes in cognitive or behavioral functions, such as irritability, confusion, aggression or other unusual behavior, and slurred speech. Children suffering from TBI may begin eating less, act unusually irritable, become depressed or disengaged, lose interest in previously enjoyed activities or alter their sleep patterns. TBI, though it presents itself and affects people in different ways, can completely change an auto accident victim’s life. Additionally, family, spouses and friends may be affected by behavioral changes caused by a victim’s TBI.
DAMAGING EFFECTS OF CLOSED HEAD INJURIES
Head injuries are typically classified into one of two categories: open or closed. A closed head injury is one that causes trauma but without any skull penetration. Damage is internal and often caused by extremely fast head movement from sudden impact or blunt force. Examples of closed head injuries:
- Diffuse axonal injury – A type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), diffuse axonal injury occurs when the head suddenly jars or rotates. The skull moves quickly while the brain lags behind, which can cause structural damage and tearing. A sudden impact in an auto accident can cause an injury and may result in brain damage, coma or death.
- Concussion – Concussions are easily the most common type of brain injury. They may occur along with closed or open head injuries and present a wide range of symptoms and debilitating effects. When a person is injured in an auto accident, a blow to or sudden movement of the head may cause damage to cranial nerves and swollen blood vessels. The results may range from temporary dizziness and pain to years of symptoms from brain damage. Concussion victims may experience short spells of unconsciousness.
- Contusion – Contusions are essentially bruises on the brain that are usually caused by blows to the head. Severe contusions may require surgery for removal.
- Coup-contrecoup injury – Also called an acceleration/deceleration TBI, this injury occurs when a sudden stop or extreme acceleration forward causes the brain to slam into the inside of the skull. This can happen without any actual impact to the head.
- Hemorrhage – This refers to internal bleeding that occurs when a blood vessel ruptures inside the brain.
- Hematoma – When related to a TBI, hematoma refers to a swelling of blood within the tissues around the brain.
Symptoms of a closed head injury may include:
- Dizziness or loss of consciousness
- Persistent headaches
- Fluid leaking from ears or nose
- Speech and vision issues
- Changes in behavior/mood swings
Closed head injuries can be difficult to pinpoint because they often present symptoms after the initial injury.
POST-TRAUMATIC HEADACHES CAN BE LIFE-ALTERING
Anyone who has suffered from a major headache or a migraine can tell you how debilitating they can be. In some cases, a car accident can cause injuries that result in severe and persistent headaches. These post-traumatic headaches can be life-altering for those suffering from them, and they may not manifest until days after the initial injury. Furthermore, the severity of the headaches may not be directly proportional to the severity of the auto accident; a seemingly minor collision can still result in serious headache problems.
One of the obvious possible causes of post-traumatic headaches is a direct blow to the head during the accident. A perhaps less obvious cause is damage in the neck from a violent or sudden whipping movement. Damaged or pinched nerves in the neck or shoulders can cause persistent headaches, as well.
TYPES OF HEADACHES AND CAUSES
Those who suffer headaches after an accident may experience them in different ways and levels of severity, whether it be a prolonged, dull pain, or sharp or tight pains.
- Tension headaches: These types of headaches come in the form of short bouts of pain and tension to week-long ordeals. Victims experience them at various intervals, but those who suffer the headaches for at least half of the time in a month are diagnosed with chronic tension headaches; anything less is considered episodic. Treatments for tension headaches include medication, relaxation therapy, cognitive therapy, massage, stretch exercises and heat applications. Source: Mayo Clinic
- Migraine: Migraines tend to affect women more than men, but they can affect anybody, and when they do strike, migraines can last from a few hours to several days. Migraines typically cause pain in any or several areas of the head simultaneously, and those who suffer may experience nausea or vomiting. Treatments for migraines include resting away from bright lights, using cold or hot compresses, medications, massages and nerve stimulation. Source: Mayo Clinic
- Post-traumatic headaches: Post-traumatic headaches are quite common following a traumatic brain injury, and they can resemble either migraine, tension headaches or both. The International Headache Society defines a post-traumatic headache (PTH) as a headache that develops within one full week of the initial injury or after the victim has regained consciousness. The headaches may vary widely in severity, but the effects are similar to both migraines and tension headaches, including nausea and dizziness. Some cases of PTH are treatable with anti-inflammatory medication, but severe cases may require stronger medication and physical therapy. Other treatment options for PTH include biofeedback and relaxation therapy, prescription pain medicines, nerve stimulation and behavioral therapy. Source: American Migraine Foundation
Headaches following an accident may also indicate something more severe, such as an undetected brain injury. Victims who begin to suddenly experience headaches should seek medical help immediately.
Get The Compensation You Deserve If you have questions about injuries, feel free to call one of our attorneys at Zychowicz Law LLC. The call and the advice are free at 419-842-1166. You can also send us a direct message through our online portal.
The content on this page should not be interpreted as or substituted for professional medical advice. We are experienced in working with these injuries, but we are not doctors.