Everyone knows that car accidents can lead to serious injury. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is among the most severe. But did you know that there are many different types of TBI as well? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines TBI as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head.” Penetrating injuries can also cause TBI. Though TBI can happen to anyone, children and older adults are especially at risk. In this blog post, we will give a brief overview of the different types of TBI that can be caused by an auto accident.
A concussion is the most common type of TBI. Though they tend to be mild and nonfatal, survivors may still have substantial, lifelong impairments (which are generally treatable with rehabilitation). According to the Brain Injury Alliance of Utah (BIAU), sudden momentum, movement change, or impact can cause a concussion. The brain’s blood vessels may stretch, and the cranial nerves may be damaged. You may or may not lose consciousness as a result of a concussion, and it may or may not show up on a diagnostic imaging test. Concussions are sometimes defined by exclusion, making them a complex neurobehavioral syndrome. They can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to heal.
Cerebral contusions are a bruise of the brain tissue. These commonly occur in car accidents when an external force (such as a sharp object) directly impacts the head. Such injuries are localized and can be either minor or life-threatening. Major contusions may cause brain herniation, where parts of the brain squeeze past the skull. Survivors may require emergency intervention to treat brain swelling. They may also get the contusion surgically removed.
Coup-contrecoup injuries can be considered a type of cerebral contusion. These injuries occur at both the site of impact (coup) and the complete opposite side of the brain (contrecoup). Coup-contrecoups are caused by the brain moving within the skull during impact. In such cases, the movement is significant enough to have the brain collide with the skull on the opposite side of the head, causing the survivor to suffer two separate brain injuries.
Shaking or strong rotations of the head can cause diffuse axonal injuries, making them common in auto accidents. When the brain moves around rapidly in the skull, its connection to the rest of the body becomes compromised. Brain structures tear, as do the nerve tissues throughout the brain. As a result, brain chemicals may be released and cause additional injury. Diffuse axonal injuries may cause coma, death, or widespread brain damage. Survivors may have a variety of functional impairments, dependent on where the tears occurred in the brain.
An acquired brain injury (ABI) is a type of brain injury that occurs from within the body rather than external forces. Anoxia, degenerative diseases, hypoxia, near-drownings, toxins, and other internal conditions can cause ABI. In anoxia, the brain is cut off entirely from oxygen. Cells begin dying off as a result. There are also different types of anoxia. Anoxic anoxia refers to brain injury that results from the brain’s oxygen supply being cut off. Anemic anoxia occurs when the bloodstream does not carry enough oxygen. Toxic anoxia is when toxins or metabolites block the blood’s oxygen from being used. In contrast, hypoxic brain injuries occur when the brain receives some (but not enough) oxygen. In hypoxic-ischemic brain injury, also known as stagnant hypoxia or ischemic insult, a critical reduction in blood flow or blood pressure leads to a lack of blood flow in the brain.
A penetrating brain injury occurs when an object penetrates through the skull and reaches the brain. The affected area of the brain can be of any size. Victims require immediate medical care, as such an injury is a threat to life. An object that has penetrated the skull can ricochet within, even if traveling at a low rate of speed and widen the damaged area. Alternatively, an object can also go directly through the skull, the brain, and then the skull again. Such injuries are not just penetrating, but also cause additional shearing, stretching, and rupture of brain tissue.
Second impact syndrome (SIS) is a rare phenomenon. The victim’s brain swells rapidly shortly after suffering a concussion before symptoms from an earlier concussion have fully subsided. SIS is almost always fatal, and survivors are left severely disabled for the rest of their lives. When the brain is suddenly incapable of regulating cerebral spinal fluid pressure, it leads to severe swelling and possible herniation. The triggering event does not have to be particularly strong. Any blow that can snap the head enough to cause the brain to move inside the skull can be sufficient to trigger SIS. Victims must seek immediate medical attention to maximize their chances of survival.
According to the CDC, symptoms of TBI generally fall into four categories: thinking/remembering, physical, emotional/mood, and sleep. Thinking/remembering symptoms can include difficulty concentrating, difficulting remembering new information, difficulty thinking clearly, and feeling slowed down. Physical symptoms can include balance problems, blurry or fuzzy vision, dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea, and sensitivity to noise or light. Emotional/mood symptoms can include anxiety, heightened emotions, irritability, nervousness, and sadness. Sleep symptoms can include sleeping less than usual, sleeping more than usual, and trouble falling asleep.
Taking care of a car accident claim can be overwhelming, especially if you are recovering from personal injury or property damage. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is just another layer in an ultra-difficult situation. You need someone you can trust in your corner. We at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our trusted nationwide auto accident attorneys. You should never have to pay for somebody else’s mistakes. If you were involved in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, then legal recourse may be available. Let us fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve.