One of the most serious potential consequences of an auto accident is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Our fragile brains are contained within the strong bones of the skull and protected from harm. But if the skull gets penetrated in an accident or the brain is violently shaken within the skull, the injuries that result can be life-altering and permanently disabling.
During the car accident, your brain may have suffered trauma. Surviving the injury is your first hurdle, but there may be a long road to recovery ahead of you. Whatever the trajectory of your recovery, it starts with seeking immediate medical attention after your accident.
Don't delay medical care
You may want to dismiss your head injury as inconsequential after a collision with another vehicle. This is especially true if the skin wasn't broken and there is no blood. But there could be blood dangerously pooling inside your skull or forming clots that could burst and leave you with minimal brain function. Alternatively, your brain could swell, a potentially deadly TBI complication.
You might not realize it until it's too late
Dangerous swelling or brain bleeding may not be initially evident. There is a so-called "golden hour" after the initial injury where treatment can be most effective. While this window of treatment is not exactly 60 minutes, the sooner patients can be medically evaluated, the better their chances for making a full recovery.
This is important to keep in mind, because after an accident, those suffering from life-threatening brain injuries may initially appear fine. They may walk around and talk, answer questions and act normally. Part of that could be due to the adrenaline surge following the wreck. But, the invisible damage is slowly worsening beneath the skull.
How can I tell if I have a TBI?
Traumatic brain injuries range from mild to very severe. Early signs that all is not well might include:
- Sensitivity to sound or touch
- Problems with balance
- Rigidity of and inability to control limbs
Behavioral changes often accompany TBIs. Patients may experience anxiety, anger and depression. They may suffer from emotional lability that causes wild mood swings and interferes with their professional and personal relationships.
Cognitive changes can result
After a brain injury, you may notice that your ability to learn and process new information is affected. Your thinking may be muddled and you might struggle to pay attention or solve problems. This is because TBIs frequently affect what is known as executive functioning, or the ability to work out problems.
Some TBI patients also struggle with speech and language difficulties. Common words may elude you or your speech may be garbled. These conditions can often improve markedly with intensive therapy.
Medical costs can be steep
You probably realize by now that your recovery will be ongoing and your medical bills quite high. Now is a good time to talk to an Essex County personal injury attorney about seeking financial recovery from those liable for your accident and injuries.