Be aware of Brain Injury symptoms after a car accident!

Each year in our country over 1 million people are seen by doctors because of a hit to the head. 50,000 to 100,000 of those end up having prolonged symptoms that will affect their ability to be productive occupationally, as well as function in their daily lives.

A great many of these people suffer head trauma as a result of car accidents.

What many people don’t know is that it doesn’t take a major car crash to cause a head injury. Nor does a head injury require an impact with an object such as the steering wheel, dashboard or windshield.  At even relatively slow rates of speed, traumatic brain injuries can, and often do, occur.

If you are involved in a car crash, it is important that you and those around you, are aware and mindful of head and/or brain injury symptoms because if not recognized and treated quickly, such an injury could have dire long term effects.

Essentially, three separate processes work to damage the brain; including bruising, or bleeding, tearing, and swelling.

If an individual is involved in an auto accident involving sudden and violent forces, such as a head on, broad side, or rear end collision causing a quick and sudden stop, the soft tissue of the brain is pushed against the hard bone of the skull.  As a result, the brain tissue is squished against the bone of the skull and blood vessels may rupture. When blood vessels rupture and tear, they release blood into sections of the brain in an uncontrolled and unusual manner.  A flood of blood within the brain causes injury and often various detrimental cognitive symptoms.   

The major problem of a flood of blood caused by a tear or rupture of the brain is that there is no room for this extra blood. The skull, being bone, is incapable of expanding, so the blood begins to press on other areas such as the softer brain tissue. Brain tissue is very delicate and will malfunction, stop working altogether, and may even die off if pressured. With excessive amounts of bleeding in the brain, the additional pressure will make critical areas of the brain stop working. Areas that control such vital functioning such as breathing or heart rate. 

Someone in an auto accident could seem perfectly normal immediately after a crash, but as the internal brain bleeding progressives and worsens, a life or death situation could develop, literally within a couple hours.  Important symptoms to notice is confusion, nausea or headache.  If you have these symptoms, or notice them in someone recently involved in a car accident, immediately seek medical attention.

For more information about traumatic brain injuries, see Stanford Hospital's Acquired Brain Injury Website.

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