If you recently sustained a car accident, traumatic brain injury is a real possibility. Learning more about the causes and symptoms of TBI can help you get the medical treatment you need.
TBI typically occurs as a result of an impact to the head, which many experience during a car crash. Even if you did not fracture your skull or even hit your head against a surface, TBI remains a possibility, as a hard stop can cause the brain to hit the inside of the skull.
Severe TBI is more likely to have noticeable symptoms
Those who sustain severe TBI are more likely to show clear symptoms quicker and thus receive an appropriate diagnosis soon. If you have a severe TBI, it probably began with losing consciousness for half an hour or longer, followed by amnesia lasting at least 24 hours. The resulting internal hemorrhaging is also more likely to show up on medical imaging.
Symptoms may appear after a delay
However, some sufferers do go home from the emergency room only to begin experiencing acute symptoms several hours or even a few days later. Symptoms you may have include losing physical or cognitive function, memory loss and speech impairment. Also, some people also experience less severe symptoms associated with mild TBI.
Mild TBI signs can be easier to miss
Accident victims who sustain mild TBI may not realize this possibility at first. In this case, your loss of consciousness lasts less than 30 minutes. The combination of this brevity with short-term memory loss can mean some people never realize they passed out at all. They may refuse to go to the emergency room, believing nothing serious happened.
Mild TBI symptoms may begin appearing within several days or weeks of your accident. Common signs include nausea, dizziness, mood swings, drowsiness, mildly impaired coordination or speech, and headaches. It is important not to dismiss these symptoms and to get medical attention. Because imaging studies often do not reflect the presence of mild TBI, be sure to see a physician with expertise in this area.