Traumatic brain injury typically occurs after a head trauma. Head injuries can happen due to all sorts of accidents, including falls and vehicle collisions. In the case of a car crash, TBI may be present even without a visible head injury, as the high-impact stop can cause your brain to collide with the inside of your skull.
Mild TBI often does not make its presence known immediately. You will likely not receive a diagnosis during your emergency room visit; in fact, many people only receive a diagnosis several weeks or months after their accident. This is just one reason not to accept cash at the scene and to avoid settling too quickly.
Symptoms and diagnosis
Generally, mild TBI begins with a brief loss of consciousness at impact and short-term memory impairment afterward. Although the loss of consciousness may last up to 30 minutes, you may experience it for only a few seconds.
Other symptoms tend to surface gradually over the course of ensuing days and weeks. Common signs include impairment in the cognitive, speech, memory or physical functioning areas. Many people also experience one or several of the following symptoms: nausea, vertigo, blurry vision, irritability, lack of focus, headaches, fatigue, drowsiness and mood swings. Though, ordinarily, such symptoms may be minor, in the wake of an accident it is important to react promptly and seek medical attention when you observe even seemingly trivial changes in your health.
Mild TBI is only so in comparison to severe TBI, which can cause paralysis, coma and death. However, even mild TBI can substantially affect your well-being, daily functioning and ability to earn a living. Injuries to the brain can also take unpredictable turns. The affected tissue may begin to suffer from swelling or bleeding, thus potentially spreading the damage to other parts of the brain and affecting new areas of functioning. For this reason, the course of recovery can also be hard to predict.