According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 2 million people annually experience Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), with 14.3% caused by traffic accidents.
Using those percentages, a staggering 286,000 TBIs result from car crashes every year. Since brain injuries are many times not quickly identified after an accident, the number could actually be even higher.
TBIs to Expect From Motor Vehicle Accidents
There are two types of TBI – open and closed. An open TBI is when a foreign object penetrates the skull and enters the brain. A closed, and more common, TBI is caused by a bump or blow to the head like when the head hits a windshield or dashboard.
One possible result from a car crash is whiplash which can cause great trauma to the brain. Whiplash occurs when the head is suddenly twisted in a car crash. That sudden jarring makes the brain move around too. Since the brain floats within the skull, the impact of a motor vehicle accident can cause the brain to be bruised and torn.
The brain continues to move after the head has stopped causing bruising and bleeding at the part of the brain near the point of impact. Normally, the injury occurs to the frontal lobe which is the emotional control system and temporal lobe which is the selective attention system.
According to the Brain Injury Association, research shows that even low-speed motor vehicle accidents can result in brain trauma and that mild TBI concussions are a source of brain damage that can cause long-term problems with thinking and memory.
Even if you’re involved in a slow-speed fender bender, TBI—and a host of associated complications—can occur. Unfortunately, TBI symptoms may not be immediately obvious amidst the confusion and stress that follow an accident.
Signs of TBI
If you or your loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, be aware of the following signs of TBI:
- Blurred vision or ringing in the ears
- Changes in mood, including depression, irritability or anxiety
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Dizziness/loss of balance
- Headache, nausea or vomiting
- Light or noise sensitivity
- Loss of consciousness
- Problems with memory or concentration
- Pupils not equally dilated
Tips to Avoid TBI Due to a Motor Vehicle Accident
To avoid the potential of brain injury caused by motor Vehicle accidents:
- Wear your seat belt
- Ensure children ride in approved safety seats appropriate for their height and weight
- Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Do not drive if fatigued or overtired
- Wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, ATV or scooter
Tips for Recovery
If you are a victim of TBI, the Brain Injury Association recommends the following to aid recovery:
- Rest. Don’t rush back to daily activities such as work or school.
- Avoid doing things that could cause another blow or jolt to the head.
- Ask your doctor when it’s safe to drive a car, ride a bike, or use heavy equipment, because your ability to react may be slower after a brain injury.
- Take only the medications your doctor has approved, and don’t drink alcohol until your doctor says it’s OK.
- Write things down if you have a hard time remembering.
- You may need help to re-learn skills that were lost. Contact the Brain Injury Association of Rhode Island to learn about the programs, supports and services available to people with brain injury and their families.
For more info on the effects of Traumatic Brain Injury read Part 1 in our two-part series.
To learn more about your rights after you or a loved one suffers a traumatic brain injury in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, contact us or call (401) 777-7777 to schedule a free consultation with attorney Mike Bottaro.