Traumatic brain injury may occur as a result of the kind of head trauma many car accidents cause. In many crashes, drivers and passengers travel at a high speed and come to a sudden halt. In addition to the likelihood of hitting your head on a hard surface, the sudden cessation of motion can cause the brain to bump violently against the skull, which may also result in damage.
Severe TBI symptoms generally follow a prolonged period of unconsciousness or amnesia and often surface within hours of the accident. These symptoms tend to be hard to miss, as they include dramatic impairment of physical or cognitive function and may even segue into a coma.
Mild TBI symptoms can manifest later
Accident victims who sustain mild or moderate TBI may encounter symptoms that seriously affect their functioning in the long term. However, they may have more trouble getting the right diagnosis and treatment. This is partly because mild TBI symptoms take longer to show up - sometimes as long as several weeks after the trauma.
Initial symptoms are often overlooked
Another reason TBI diagnoses can get delayed is many people's tendency to overlook what they perceive as minor discomfort. Some common symptoms include headaches, vertigo, drowsiness, fatigue, problems focusing, irritability and mood swings. If your first instinct upon experiencing any of these would be to write them off as a minor ailment, you are not alone. Many people delay seeing a doctor or mentioning their symptoms to family members.
Limits of traditional imaging in TBI diagnosis
Doctor's may also have a hard time identifying mild TBI. Sometimes, diagnostics such as MRI scans show changes in brain structures; in other instances, they do not. Newer imaging technology and neuropsychological testing may provide a better way of identifying TBI-induced functional impairment.
In the time following your accident, watch for changes in your health and mental state that could signal TBI and get medical attention. TBI symptoms can continue to affect your ability to work and live in ways you may not anticipate right now. An experienced attorney can help you document your condition and take action to get you the legal compensation you need.