Many people think of a brain injury as the result of a bump on the head. However, in a car accident, the sudden violent force can send the brain crashing into the inside of the skull, and because there was no obvious head trauma, the victim may not even realize that there is a problem.
If the blow to the brain was enough to bruise delicate tissues and tear blood vessels, the victim may have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Brain injuries are not always apparent right away. The bruising inside the skull could lead to swelling, and that could cause pressure that damages tissues not originally harmed in the accident. Pooling blood from a torn vessel could create dangerous pressure against the brain, too, but it could also clot in such a way that the gelled blood breaks free and travels into the blood vessel, blocks the flow of oxygen to the brain and causes a stroke. These secondary injuries are likely to be much more serious than the original injury, and could even be fatal.
Individuals who experience secondary injuries may begin seeing symptoms two or three days later, but it could even be weeks if, for example, there is a very small tear in a blood vessel that leaks slowly.
The circumstances are always unique to the injury, but even two people with a similar injury may experience different symptoms, or different combinations of symptoms, depending on which part of the brain sustains damage. Typical symptoms of a traumatic brain injury include the following:
- Sensory changes
- Vision issues
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Behavioral changes
Currently, once a person suffers brain damage, it is permanent. Doctors can work to lessen the effects, but they cannot reverse brain damage. Individuals may be able to learn new ways to do things or compensate for the injury, but regardless, TBIs often affect people for the rest of their lives.