Brain damage is caused by an injury to the brain. The brain can be injured by direct trauma or in some cases by different diseases. Traumatic brain injury can be caused by a number of different mechanisms, and car accidents are one of the leading causes. It is a very common injury that affects millions of people worldwide. In the USA alone, there are more than 2.6 million people that suffer a brain injury each year. (1)
If you have been involved in an auto accident that has resulted in a traumatic brain injury, a personal injury attorney can help you understand the accident law that applies to your case. They will help you process your claims and document your injuries, whether the symptoms appear immediately, days, or even weeks later.
After all, the brain is one of our vital organs. It regulates all the processes that happen in the human body. It is made of brain cells named neurons and other cells that provide support (glial cells). There are also very important blood vessels inside the brain. The brain can be divided into a number of different parts. Each of them contains a different type of brain cell and every one of them has a specific role. An injury of a certain part of the brain will affect the function that this part of the brain controls. (2)
The skull is made of bones, whose role is to protect the brain from trauma. It has a cavity where the brain is located. However, the skull is very hard, and any movement of the brain would cause injury to the much softer brain tissue. That is why there are 3 types of coverings between the brain tissue and skull called meninges. They consist of dura mater, arachnoid, and pia mater. Dura matter is located most peripherally from the brain. It is a hard covering that is attached to the inner side of the skull. It also allows the blood vessels to go to different brain parts. The arachnoid is a very soft web-like covering, and the pia mater is located at the top of the brain tissue. Pia mater contains blood vessels. Cerebrospinal fluid provides an additional layer of protection to the brain tissue. It is located between the brain coverings, and it absorbs energy after the trauma. (2)
As mentioned before, car accidents are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injury and brain damage. These symptoms from a brain injury can greatly affect your quality of life. Both timely contact with medical professionals and an auto accidents lawyer specializing in personal injury law can reduce your physical and financial burden and get you back on your feet.
In case of a car accident, the human body and head will be pushed forward and back, potentially causing brain injury. The human brain is located inside the hard skull so the brain will hit the inner side of the skull. If a person hits a hard object with their head (the steering wheel, for example), a sudden deceleration of the head will push the brain forward, and it will hit the skull. The injured area will be located in the front part of the brain (frontal cortex) in what is called a coup injury. Once the brain hits the skull, it will be pushed back, and it will then hit the back part of the skull. This will cause an injury to the back part of the brain (occipital cortex), and this type of injury is called countercoup. This is the main mechanism of brain damage that occurs after car accidents. (3)
The symptoms of brain injury vary and depend mostly on the type of injury, the injured brain area, the age of the patient, the amount of energy transferred to the brain, and the size of the injured brain area.
Mild brain injury usually causes only mild symptoms which don’t last for a long period of time and don’t cause any long-term consequences. Moderate brain injury can cause symptoms that last for a longer period of time, but in most cases, patients recover well. Severe brain injuries will cause significant consequences. They will completely change the life of an injured person and reduce their quality of life.
Brain damage causes a wide variety of symptoms that can affect every aspect of human life. Depending on the injured area, a person can have cognitive symptoms that include trouble with memorizing new information or remembering old information, problems with understanding of other people, trouble concentrating, memory loss, or reduced ability to maintain attention. In the case of injury to specific brain centers, the person can have problems with different senses such as vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, balance, and pain. Changes in behavior and emotional status are common after severe brain injuries. The person can be easily irritated, anxious, aggressive, and depressed. Injured patients frequently complain of severe or constant headaches, loss of energy and weakness, trouble sleeping, problems with speaking, shaking of body parts, and loss of strength in arms or legs. (1)
Any head injury that occurs after a car accident is a potential brain injury. That is why it is very important to seek medical attention after any head injury. Your doctor will get a history of the traumatic events and conduct a detailed physical and neurological examination. Sometimes, X-rays can be ordered, but they will only exclude skull trauma. In order to show the brain and possible injury, CT scans are usually ordered. CT scans will show a vast majority of brain injuries and allow the doctors to show the presence of the injured area, its size, and exact location. Additional follow-up CT scans can show the progression or regression of the brain injury and the need for treatment. A brain MRI is another method that can visualize the brain and damaged areas.
There are several treatment options for brain damage that depend mostly on the type of brain injury. Mild brain damage usually doesn’t require any treatment because symptoms regress on their own and don’t leave any consequences. It is important to watch the person with brain injury closely because of the possibility of progression of symptoms. On the other hand, major brain injuries usually require long-term treatment and rehabilitation. If there are signs of bleeding in the brain, surgery is a treatment option. The surgeon will make a hole in the skull and remove the blood clots and blood from the inside of the skull. This will prevent excessive pressure on the brain and further damage. Physical and occupational therapy are also frequently used to regain some of the lost or damaged functions of the brain. This type of treatment can last for very long periods of time, usually months and even years. (4)
It can be complicated to navigate the legal and medical systems on your own — but you don’t have to.
A personal injury attorney who specializes in accident law can guide you through the process of getting the compensation and care you deserve after a traumatic car accident.
In conclusion, brain damage symptoms vary from minor symptoms which don’t last for a long period of time and leave no consequences to major life-changing symptoms. That is why it is very important to seek medical attention after a head injury.
Mild cases can turn severe in a matter of hours, unfortunately leading to situations where hiring a wrongful death lawyer — rather than a lawyer for brain injuries or personal injuries — becomes necessary.
Not only is seeking medical attention vital for your own health and treatment, but also for providing evidence and documentation for your auto accident lawyer.
A attorney for personal injury can advise you on your rights within the Commonwealth of Virginia and help you get the compensation you deserve.