Traumatic Brain Injury & Chronic Pain After A Car Accident
In some Pennsylvania car accidents, people suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and chronic pain. These two conditions are poorly understood, but they can cause numerous impairments in your ability to function and affect your personality and mental health. Following a TBI from a motor vehicle crash, you might suffer a reduced ability to enjoy life, be unable to return to work, and develop depression and other mental health issues. A traumatic brain injury can occur when your head strikes something in a car crash or when your head and neck suddenly move during the force of the collision, causing your brain to crash into your skull bones. Traumatic brain injuries can also occur in contact sports, including football, boxing, and others. Here is some information about traumatic brain injuries and chronic pain following a motor vehicle crash from a Philadelphia car accident attorney at Raynes & Lawn.
Brain Injuries in Motor Vehicle Collisions
In some cases, brain injuries won’t show immediate symptoms following a car crash. A victim might walk away without knowing that they have been injured. However, even when there aren’t any visible symptoms such as bleeding or bruising, you should see a doctor immediately after a car wreck to check you for signs of a traumatic brain injury.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 176 Americans died in 2020 from TBI-related injuries. In 2019, more than 223,000 people were hospitalized in the U.S. for traumatic brain injuries. Motor vehicle collisions are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries and TBI-related deaths.
If you don’t see a doctor immediately after a car crash, you could go for days or months without knowing that you suffered a traumatic brain injury. Without prompt treatment, TBIs can result in further damage and more serious symptoms, including chronic migraines, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, anxiety, nausea, fatigue, or depression. If you struck your head during your accident or were violently jostled, you should ask your doctor to check you for signs of a TBI.
Types of Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries can occur when you suffer a forceful blow to your head. They can also happen when your brain strikes the inside of your skull when you are violently and suddenly jostled. Because of the force and momentum of a car crash, closed head injuries are common. Closed traumatic brain injuries occur when the injuries occur inside of the skull. They might not show immediate physical signs that you have been injured.
Many TBIs in motor vehicle accidents co-occur with whiplash injuries. Whiplash occurs when a car’s occupant is violently thrown forward and then backward in a back-and-forth motion. This motion can cause soft tissue injuries to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your neck and shoulders, and it can also cause your brain to strike the inside of your skull and result in a traumatic brain injury.
Some traumatic brain injuries are open and obvious. In these types of TBIs, the skull is penetrated by a foreign object. An open TBI is typically the result of a severe crash in which sharp fragments penetrate the head and skull, exposing the brain.
Symptoms of a TBI
Many symptoms can indicate someone has suffered a TBI, including odd behavior, trouble with balance, severe pain, light or sound sensitivity, blurred vision, and others. The most common symptoms that someone with a TBI might show include the following:
- Impaired cognitive functioning, including trouble speaking or understanding, confusion, difficulty concentrating, trouble thinking, difficulty in creating new memories, or trouble with recognizing objects or people
- Behavioral changes, such as abnormal crying or laughing, impulsivity, aggressiveness, irritability, or repetitive actions or words
- Whole body symptoms, including problems with balance, loss of consciousness, fatigue, fainting, or dizziness
- Changes in mood, including loneliness, apathy, anxiety, depression, or anger
- Eye symptoms, including unequally sized pupils, dilated pupils, or raccoon eyes
- Gastrointestinal symptoms, including vomiting or nausea
- Sensory symptoms, including light or sound sensitivity
- Speech changes, including impaired voice or slurred speech
You might also experience chronic headaches, bleeding from your ears or nose, blurry vision, depression, seizures, loss of smell, nerve injuries, stiff muscles, or ringing in the ears.
If you have any suspicion that you or your loved one might have suffered a TBI, you should seek immediate medical attention. Untreated brain injuries can worsen and result in irreversible brain damage.
Chronic Pain Syndrome
Some people suffer from chronic pain following motor vehicle accidents lasting six or more months. This pain can range in severity from mild to severe and might be constant or intermittent. Chronic pain symptoms might include sharp, burning, or aching pains that cause stiffness, soreness, and discomfort. In many cases, people who suffer chronic pain syndrome following accidents also suffer injuries to the nervous system, including potential traumatic brain injuries. If you suffer from chronic pain syndrome, you might feel an increased amount of stress, withdraw from the activities you used to enjoy, develop a weakened immune system, and experience fatigue, depression, anxiety, and anger. Many people experience chronic pain following car accidents in their shoulders, neck, lower back, head, and musculoskeletal system. You might also suffer from neuropathic pain.
In some cases, someone with a mild TBI might also suffer from chronic pain syndrome. It can be difficult to prove that a mild TBI was caused by an accident when there wasn’t a loss of consciousness or minimal damage to the vehicle. However, it might be easier to prove the relationship between your chronic pain and your car accident.
Recovering from an Accident-Related Traumatic Brain Injury
Even a relatively minor car accident can cause a TBI. Depending on the nature of your injury, your treatment might involve bed rest. However, if your crash and injury were more severe, you might require surgery. Some patients must remain in the hospital until the pressure and swelling subside, which can take several weeks. At a minimum, most TBI patients with moderate to severe injuries require the following treatment:
- Physical therapy
- Frequent doctor appointments
- Many more
What to Do Following a Car Wreck
If you have been involved in an accident and experience any type of pain or discomfort, you should immediately see your doctor. You can ask your doctor to check you for signs of a TBI. Your doctor will know what signs to look for and might then refer you to a specialist. It is also a good idea for you to keep a journal of your symptoms and how they affect your daily life. Keeping a journal each day can help to show a recurring pattern in your symptoms that should be investigated. A daily pain journal can also help show how your injuries affect your ability to enjoy life and could help to support your compensation claim.
Get Help From a Car Accident Lawyer in Philadelphia
If you or your loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury and chronic pain following an accident, you should speak to a brain injury lawyer at Raynes & Lawn. Our attorneys have decades of experience representing accident victims and understand how to investigate complex injury cases. Call us for a free consultation today at 1-800-535-1797.
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