SYMPTOMS OF A BRAIN INJURY AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
WOULD YOU KNOW HOW TO SPOT A BRAIN INJURY?
I have represented a lot of courageous people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury caused by a car crash . For some, the injury is very noticeable right from the start.
But for many,there are people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury and do not even realize it. Their symptoms take usually a long time to appear and even longer to get properly diagnosed.
Right after the event, they might have a limited loss of consciousness or none at all. They often feel very dazed after the crash or fall. When seen in the emergency room many have a completely normal MRI or CT scan. There is no coma, no detectable bleeding of their brain, and many are discharged from the hospital the day they enter.
As days, weeks or even months go by these people start to notice problems they never had before. Loss of memory is a common symptom. They will forget where they put their keys, forget about important appointments, and be unable to remember facts they could easily pull from memory before.
Sometimes, they have trouble finding the right words to express themselves. “It’s on the tip of my tongue” but they just can’t find the right words. Some may complain of difficulty in concentration, staying on task, slowed thinking, migraine headaches, a bad taste in their mouth and inability to make decisions about their daily lives.
Family members will almost routinely say “they just aren’t the same person they used to be”. Many will experience excessive sleepiness, start making poor life decisions, become irritable and be prone to violent mood swings and emotional outbursts. A mild and usually calm lady before the head injury will just fly off the handle without little or no provocation. Her family is stunned and just can’t figure out what is wrong with her.
The tragic irony is usually the last person to notice the brain injury is the victims themselves. I have had many cases where my client seems to have suffered a neck or back injury from a car crash. As time progresses, I always ask how they are feeling. Slowly the true picture of what’s wrong starts to emerge. They will sometimes mention they are having some of the above symptoms. When this happens, I always want to speak to their close family members. When they start telling me about the changes in lifestyle, personality, mood swings I start digging deeper to uncover a potential head injury.
I had one man I represented who was an outgoing man and a very sharp dresser. When I talked to his girlfriend she told me, he didn’t want to go out at all anymore and just wanted to sleep on the coach wearing the same stain soaked t-shirt he had worn for days. This was just not right. He kept denying anything was wrong with him. Later, after getting to the right doctors and having the right tests performed we learned he had suffered a very severe brain injury from a crash.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE BRAIN?
In a car accident, for example, the force of the crash can cause the brain to swing twist and strike the hard part of the skull. This type of brain injury is called a Diffuse Axonal Injury. After a brain injury, the rotation and disruption of the brain's long connecting nerve fibers can be microscopic and difficult to measure. It’s not picked up on by a MRI or CT scan because they are not sensitive enough to detect the microscopic changes in the brain. It’s just a flat myth that you have to have been "knocked out" to suffer a brain injury.
SO HOW CAN YOU DETERMINE A BRAIN INJURY
For closed head injuries with no "brain bleed" one of the best diagnostic tools to determine a brain injury is to have a battery of neuropsychological tests run. These tests are designed to help isolate the area of the brain affected and can pick up changes in memory and executive functioning. This testing is performed by a specialist called a neuropsychologist. In my opinion, the best team of doctors to detect a brain injury is a neurologist, experienced in brain injuries and a neuropsychologist.
IF YOU SUSPECT A BRAIN INJURY GET HELP NOW
If you or a loved one has suffered a recent injury and you suspect a brain injury go see a neurologist, experienced in treating brain injuries, as soon as you can. Make sure you discuss with them all of your symptoms, even if you think they are not related. If your symptoms change or get worse, make sure the neurologist know about any changes.