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Brain Injuries after Car Collisions

Posted in Traumatic Brain Injuries,Uncategorized on May 3, 2013

Car wrecks are one of the leading causes of brain injuries in the United States.  50,000 people die annually from traumatic brain injuries, while 230,000 people are hospitalized and survive, and an estimated 80,000-90,000 people experience the onset of long-term disability as a result — currently, over 5.3 million people are living with disabilities resulting from a TBI.

Unfortunately, brain injuries are often not diagnosed right away.  Most brain injuries involving car collisions occur when an individual is hit and the force of the collision causes the brain to move inside the skull.  Upon impact, the force causes movement in the skull, typically in a forward/backward motion- causing the brain to hit the front of the skull and then the back of the skull.  The impact the brain has with the skull can cause sheering of brain tissue on a microscopic level at the junction between the grey matter and the whit matter of the brain.  When this occurs, an individual will likely initially suffer effects of what we think of as a concussion.  These symptoms include headaches and sensitivity to light.  However, as time goes on, these symptoms can develop and include the following:

  • seizures of all types
  • muscle spasticity
  • double vision, blurred vision or low vision, even blindness
  • loss of smell or taste
  • speech impairments such as slow or slurred speech
  • headaches or migraines
  • fatigue, increased need for sleep, and
  • balance problems.

Cognitive symptoms can include:

  • short-term memory loss, long-term memory loss
  • slowed ability to process information
  • trouble concentrating or paying attention for periods of time
  • difficulty keeping up with a conversation, and other communication difficulties such as word finding problems
  • spatial disorientation
  • organizational problems and impaired judgment
  • inability to do more than one thing at a time, and
  • a lack of initiating activities, or once started, difficulty in completing tasks without reminder.

Emotional symptoms of a TBI can include:

  • increased anxiety
  • depression and mood swings
  • impulsive behavior
  • more easily agitated, and
  • egocentric behaviors, difficulty seeing how behaviors can affect others.

If you have any of these symptoms after a whiplash injury, especially if they persist for more than a few days, you should be evaluated to see if you have a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). While they experience the same symptoms as a normal adult, children and seniors present unique symptoms and diagnostic problems.