Any time you have been in a car accident where your car has sustained any kind of damage, then it is likely that your body has, too. While some scrapes and bruises may go away on their own with time, other more serious injuries can occur. One type of car accident injury that will need immediate medical attention is a brain injury. A brain injury can be tricky to diagnose, which is why it is important to get checked out by a trusted team of car accident doctors, no matter how you are feeling after a wreck.
Brain injuries can take time for symptoms to develop, but you should always seek treatment at the first signs to avoid any potential damage. Here are examples of the different types of brain injuries from car accidents, including symptoms, diagnosing a brain injury, and treatment options.
5 Types of Brain Injuries from Car Accidents
When you drive or ride as a passenger in a car, a seat belt provides an element of safety. Seat belts help prevent you from being ejected from the vehicle in the event of a serious accident. However, a seat belt only runs from your shoulder to your hip, protecting your upper body. No such safety feature is available to hold your head and neck in place during a car accident, which makes your head and neck more susceptible to injury. Here are 5 examples of a brain injury from a car accident:
A concussion is the most common type of traumatic brain injury, or TBI. A sudden blow to the head can lead to a concussion. During a car accident, you may hit your head on the steering wheel, window, dashboard, or another part of the vehicle. This blow to the head can cause the brain to hit against the walls of your skull. This type of brain trauma is also associated with sports injuries and slip and fall injuries. Symptoms of a concussion can range from dizziness and confusion to loss of consciousness.
A contusion is the medical term for a bruise. However, a bruise on the brain can be severe and may require surgical intervention to address this serious concern. Bruising on the brain can occur with a brain injury like a concussion where part of the brain is slammed against the skull. A brain contusion can also occur due to pain and swelling in the brain and increase the risk of a blood clot or other serious issues in the brain. Symptoms of a brain contusion may include trouble speaking, changes in cognition, and challenges with memory.
Penetration refers to a type of brain injury where an object penetrates the brain. While this type of injury might be easier to spot than other brain injuries, it should be treated very carefully. A cut or laceration on the head can sometimes go deep enough to impact the brain. If you have any blood coming from a head wound, it is best to leave the object in place and allow emergency responders to address this type of injury.
You may spot bleeding from a cut or open wound on the head or face. Bleeding can also occur internally, known as a hemorrhage. Bleeding may occur in the space around the brain, known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage, or bleeding in the brain tissue, known as an intracerebral hemorrhage. A hemorrhage will involve uncontrolled bleeding in or around the brain and may cause symptoms like headaches, vomiting, and loss of consciousness.
A hematoma refers to a type of clotting or collection of blood that occurs outside the blood vessels. A hematoma in the brain can be a very serious injury that can cause pressure to build up inside your skull. This type of brain injury typically occurs when a blood vessel ruptures due to a car accident or fall. The pressure from a hematoma can press on the brain and cause loss of consciousness and may result in brain damage.
Signs and Symptoms of a Brain Injury
Watch for signs of a head injury, including headaches, lightheadedness, confusion, nausea, and ringing in the ears. Signs of a more severe head injury after a car accident may include loss of consciousness, vomiting, difficulty with balance, disorientation, seizures, or leaking of a clear fluid from the ears or nose. If you are unsure why you are having headaches after a car accident, its best to see a doctor. Do this especially if you notice symptoms of a serious head injury. Paramedics may arrive at the scene of the car accident and provide you with emergency medical attention. You can also go to an emergency room right away if you develop symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury after motor vehicle collisions. While you may be tempted to manage mild symptoms like a headache after a car accident on your own, you run the risk of delaying treatment for a serious issue like a brain injury.
Diagnosing Head Injuries from a Car Accident
A doctor can use a variety of tools and techniques to diagnose a head injury. The most common way to diagnose a head injury is with the Glasgow Coma Scale, which is used to assess your mental state. The doctor will also look for obvious signs of trauma from the car accident, including any bruising, swelling, or bleeding. Diagnostic imaging tools like a CT scan can also be helpful in diagnosing a potential brain injury from a car accident. A CT scan can provide your doctor with detailed images of the brain to effectively diagnose head injuries in motor vehicle crashes. Once your doctor has diagnosed your head injury, they will be able to determine the best course of treatment for you.
Treating a Head Injury After a Car Accident
The type of brain injury and its severity will impact the treatment options. The following treatment options are common depending on whether you have suffered a mild, moderate, or severe brain injury.
Resting after a head injury and car accident is key to supporting your healing and recovery process. The brain also needs rest and time to restore normal functioning. When you rest your brain, it helps to avoid mental stress and cognitive activity. After a concussion, car accident doctors typically recommend 24-72 hours of rest and avoiding regular activities like school, work, and physical activity.
Symptoms of a head injury may not appear right away. You also may not remember much about the accident if you suffered a brain injury. Having someone around in the first few days after the accident to observe you is important. Enlist someone you trust for observation and to keep an eye out for symptoms you may not be as aware of, like changes in mood or cognition. You may need to be woken up at certain intervals in the immediate aftermath of an injury.
A mild head injury from a car accident may cause headaches and pain at the site of the injury. Your doctor may recommend a specific medication to help with the pain or at-home remedies to help soothe your symptoms. Talk to your doctor before taking any medications for pain management, as some can increase your risk of bleeding.
Talk to your doctor about what other symptoms you have been experiencing or if any new symptoms appear. Symptoms may also get worse with time and require a follow-up with your car accident doctor. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping or loss of taste, smell, or any visual changes like blurry or double vision.
Your car accident doctor may prescribe anti-seizure medication after a severe brain injury. The risk for seizures increases significantly if you recently suffered a brain or head injury. Other medications can help reduce pressure buildup on the brain, like diuretics. It is important to only take medications approved by your doctor to avoid making your brain injury worse.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to address a brain injury and reduce the risk of permanent brain damage. Examples of surgery for brain injuries from a car accident include removing a hematoma, repairing a skull fracture, or reducing pressure in the skull. Emergency surgery for a brain injury may be necessary to minimize additional damage to the brain.
Rehabilitation after a car accident can help you regain brain functioning, along with balance, coordination, and strength. Depending on the severity of the brain injury, you may need support with regaining mobility and speech. Physical therapy after a car accident can also help you recover safely and effectively from a head injury.
If you suffered a brain injury or blow to the head during a car accident, then seek medical treatment right away from a trusted team of car accident doctors. Our team of car accident doctors at AICA Orthopedics includes orthopedic doctors, neurologists, chiropractors, and physical therapists to provide you with comprehensive support while you go through treatment and recovery after a car accident. Visit an AICA Orthopedics location near you to get started on treating your car accident injuries with our team of doctors.