Symptoms of TBI
Unlike observable injuries like a broken bone or contusion, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) cannot be seen with the naked eye. In addition, TBI symptoms can vary widely from one person to the next.
For instance, on the scene of an accident, signs of TBI may include a loss of consciousness, fluids draining from the ears or nose, inability to stand or communicate, and peculiar pupil dilation. When these things are present following head trauma, it is vital that you seek medical assistance immediately.
Sometimes, however, a TBI isn’t as noticeable until after the fact. Research shows that in certain individuals, TBI symptoms don’t present themselves for weeks, months, or even years. For this reason, it’s very important to chart any changes in physical or mental health or mood after an accident. Keeping track of symptoms can help link the TBI to the event.
What is TBI?
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of head injury that involves temporary or permanent damage to the brain. When you suffer a blow to the head, your brain is often thrown against the inside of your skull, causing it to swell. The pressure created by the swelling against your skull can impair certain sections of your brain. If you have temporary TBI, swelling is usually the worst consequence of your injury. Once it goes down, the areas of your brain that were impaired will return to normal function.
However, if a part of your brain is permanently damaged, it cannot regenerate. Because of this, victims of moderate to severe TBI often have to devise new methods of performing specific tasks that allow them to work around the dysfunctional parts of their brain. Brain injuries can involve a wide range of consequences and symptoms, all depending on the area of your brain that was injured.
Some of the most common consequences of TBI include:
- Cognitive impairment
- Psychiatric problems
- Language disorders
- Vision problems
- Brain stem injury
- Cranial nerve injury
How to Detect TBI
How do you know if you or someone you know has sustained a TBI?
While symptoms vary from person to person, some of the more common signs of tbi include:
- Dizziness and vertigo. This sensation affects balance, which can lead to difficulty working for people whose jobs require movement or long periods of standing. Some research says that up to 60 percent of TBI sufferers report these experiences.
- Nausea and vomiting. Along with vertigo, the inability to hold food in the stomach is related to an overall feeling of imbalance. One research piece evaluated the likelihood and prevalence of vomiting in emergency room patients with head injuries. Their findings showed that 7-28 percent of adults and up to a third of children vomited after suffering a head injury, depending upon severity.
- When the brain is suddenly jolted, tissues can become bruised. This often leads to memory loss and confusion. Some people with TBIs cannot clearly recall what were once vivid memories. In more severe TBI situations, the victims may be unable to reconstruct their memories. Additionally, some TBIs can lead to inability to form and keep new memories.
- Sudden and erratic mood changes. Mood changes go along with damage of the head’s soft tissues because so much of personality depends upon a healthy brain. Both kids and adults with TBIs can exhibit unusual behaviors. For instance, an ordinarily happy elementary age student may start to “act out,” either crying or yelling.
- Depression and/or anxiousness. Not surprisingly, all the factors that come together during a TBI can lead to depression and anxiety. A good example would be someone who isn’t able to remember a child’s birth, or who loses her job because of TBI-related seizures or dizziness.
- Slurred speech. A person who has had a TBI may not be able to properly form words. Not only is this a red flag that trauma has happened, but it’s a reason to seek immediate treatment.
- Sleep disturbances or insomnia. Again, the brain is at the heart of getting sleep. When it’s damaged, it may not send the correct signals or secrete enough of the hormone melatonin to prepare the mind and body for long periods of rest.
- Sensory problems. Sensory problems are a catch-all for any number of physical occurrences. Patients may report that food tastes bitter or unusual, or they may have constant tingling in their extremities. These symptoms can be related to nerve damage. Babies with TBI-related sensory problems may stop nursing or lose their appetites.
- Chronic headaches. Headaches of all magnitudes are a common experience among TBI sufferers. In fact, around 70 percent of people report headaches after a brain injury.
- A published research piece indicates that around one in five TBI victims experiences seizures. They can be short-term, happening only once or lasting for a few days, or they may persist for months after the accident.
As noted above, a brain injury can take weeks to show symptoms following head trauma, making it important that you seek medical assistance following any accident, no matter how minor it appears. If you are diagnosed with brain injury, the experienced attorneys at our firm can take your case and fight for the compensation you will require to make the best recovery possible.
TBI Potential Long-Term Impacts
In a best-case scenario, your TBI will not be life-threatening, nor will its effects last for very long. However, some TBI events leave damage that causes long-term problems.
What are some of the ways a TBI can change your life?
- Job loss due to inability to perform at your pre-accident level
- Personal problems arising from complications related to the TBI
- Medical bills that keep mounting due to therapy, treatments, surgeries, etc.
- Changes in mobility because of TBI-related physical or mental problems
These consequences and others can completely change a person’s life trajectory, all because of a TBI.
Keeping Track of TBI Symptoms
If you have been diagnosed with a TBI (or someone you care about has been diagnosed) after a car crash, always write down any unusual symptoms in the days and weeks following the event. Even if you walk away from the accident and feel fine, you may not recognize that you’ve been affected by the impact. Having this type of precise, firsthand documentation can help you and your legal team show a correlation between the accident and your health outcomes.
Remember: A TBI can happen even during the smallest “fender bender” and should always be taken seriously. No sign is too small to ignore. Always head to an emergency treatment center, urgent medical care facility, or your primary care physician if you think you or someone in your family may have a TBI.
For more information about your rights following an accident, please contact the Pennsylvania brain injury attorneys at Wapner Newman today.