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Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussion After a Car Accident

February 16, 2010 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan TBI lawyer says ERs and doctors frequently miss head injuries, lists signs so you can protect yourself

It’s a sobering fact: Emergency rooms will miss up to 85 percent of traumatic brain injuries after a person has been in a car accident. Our TBI lawyers have witnessed cases where a catastrophically brain-injured person literally walked away after a car crash, without even an ambulance or ER visit, only to become permanently disabled with a brain injury.

Remember the tragedy of Natasha Richardson last year. She fell on a bunny hill while skiing, and then resumed skiing only to succumb to a fatal brain injury. This demonstrated a person can suffer a traumatic brain injury serious enough to kill, and yet function very well for hours and sometimes days afterward.

Early TBI is often not detected by traditional MRI or CT scans because the brain actually goes into a hyper-metabolic state as it tries to protect itself after a trauma. There is an uptake of glucose that masks many of the symptoms. But symptoms often worsen over time, causing further injury and brain damage.

Symptoms of traumatic brain injury may not appear for hours or days following a brain injury. Often, they are missed entirely for weeks afterward, because people may look fine on the outside, even though they start acting and feeling differently. Meanwhile, doctors usually tend to the more obvious personal injuries, like broken bones and soft-tissue injuries. It can take months before these people are referred to a specialist for complaints based upon brain injury symptoms.

That being said, it’s important for victims of car and truck accidents to be very aware of how they’re feeling after a crash. Our TBI lawyers have listed some of the symptoms of TBI and concussion below, so you can be your own best medical advocate.

Common Symptoms of TBI

* Chronic headaches or neck pain;
* Feeling exhausted all the time;
* Mood changes;
* Changes in sleep patterns;
* Light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance;
* Nausea;
* Increased sensitivity to lights and sounds;
* Blurred vision or tired eyes;
* Loss of sense of smell or taste; and
* Ringing in the ears, called tinnitus.

* Difficulty remembering, concentrating or making decisions;
* Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting or reading;
* Getting lost or easily confused;
* Difficulty focusing;
* Depression; and
* Anxiety.

There are non-neurological and neurological symptoms, as well as cognitive and behavioral symptoms. TBI may result in physical impairment, but the more common consequences involve the accident victim’s cognition, emotional functioning and behavior.

Closed head injuries or a concussion after a car accident, on the other hand, are a little more clear-cut.

Symptoms of a Concussion

o Loss of consciousness;
o Impaired attention: vacant stare, delayed responses;
o Slurred or incoherent speech;
o Lack of coordination;
o Disorientation;
o Emotional reactions out of proportion; and
o Memory problems.

Later signs:
o Chronic headache;
o Dizziness/vertigo;
o Poor attention and concentration;
o Memory problems;
o Nausea or vomiting;
o Fatigue easily;
o Irritability;
o Intolerant of bright lights and loud noises;
o Anxiety/depression; and
o Disturbed sleep.

As you can see, many of the symptoms of traumatic brain injury are the same as a concussion. If you are noticing these symptoms, it’s important to consult your doctor and a neurologist.

If you suspect or have been diagnosed with TBI after a car accident, you can always call Michigan Auto Law for a free consultation, at (800) 777-0028. Our lawyers will fight to protect you, and help get you the care needed to put the pieces back together.

Steven M. Gursten is a member of the American Association for Justice Traumatic Brian Injury Group and the Sarah Jane Brain Project. Steve received a trial verdict of $5.65 million for a TBI victim; the largest reported auto negligence verdict in Michigan for the year.

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by skidrd

Related information:

Steps TBI Victims Must Take After a Car Accident in Michigan

What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

Documenting Traumatic Brain Injury for a Jury

Help for TBI Lawyers: Aiding Clients with Brain Injury

Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Detroit to better serve you.

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