Severe crashes such as this one will often result in catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injuries. These injuries aren’t always fatal, but they are always extremely life-changing.
What is a Catastrophic Injury?
A catastrophic injury is one where you are severely injured, and those injuries likely lead to long-term damage including disfigurement or disability. Catastrophic injuries require multiple surgeries and treatments that may last for the rest of your life. Recovery from catastrophic injuries is a lengthy and painful process, and you may find that even though you are recovering, your life will never be the same as it was before the accident.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injury is one example of a catastrophic injury. Car accidents represent the third leading cause of traumatic brain injuries and account for 14% of all ER visits, hospitalizations, and fatalities.
You can’t be uniquely you without your brain. Traumatic brain injuries can and do affect every area of your life, not only physical movement and function. Your brain also holds your personality, intelligence, and mental health. So it makes sense that a traumatic brain injury may leave you with a very different life – and a different self – than before your injuries occurred.
Your brain truly is unique to you. Every brain heals differently after a traumatic brain injury. Some people recover quickly; others take time. And still, others never recover completely. Where no two brains are alike, neither are any two brain injuries.
It’s common that a traumatic brain injury takes time to become apparent, even after a severe accident. Some victims walk around without even knowing that they have sustained a brain injury. This is one of the most unsettling aspects of a traumatic brain injury. It may take weeks or months for any symptoms to show up. In a child’s developing brain, it may take years to realize that a specific area of the brain was damaged. As that area of the brain develops, the injuries become known.
A traumatic brain injury can range in severity anywhere from mild to severe. These injuries will almost always cause permanent, life-long problems to the victim. In a moderate brain injury, you may see a loss of consciousness anywhere from 20 minutes to six hours. If unconsciousness lasts longer than six hours, it points to a severe brain injury.
How your brain is affected by an injury depends on many factors:
- How severe was the original injury?
- How complete is the physical recovery?
- What bodily functions have/have not been affected by the brain injury?
A moderate to severe traumatic brain injury may result in any of the following:
- Attention span and concentration deficits
- Inability to remember and lowering of processing speed
- Language processing deficits, slowed or slurred speech, problems with reading or writing
- Failure to process sensory input such as touch, temperature, and proprioception
- Visual deficits such as blurred vision, blindness, double vision, photosensitivity, and loss of depth perception
- Auditory deficits including tinnitus, loss of hearing, and lessened tolerance for loud noises
- Severe seizures resulting in loss of consciousness, lessening of sensory perception and motor control.
- Physical abnormalities such as chronic pain, incontinence, disability, and paralysis.
If you’ve been injured in a severe accident and suspect traumatic brain injury, it’s important that you seek immediate medical attention for a diagnosis and treatment. If you’ve suffered trauma to your head, but have no open wounds, it can be easy to miss a brain injury. You may not realize you have a brain injury until you find you can’t do things you once could, before the accident.
Generally speaking, the more severe the traumatic brain injury is, the more clear it is to the victim and those around them that an injury is present. If the victim is unconscious, on a ventilator, or sedated, you may not be able to get a diagnosis until the victim “wakes up,” and attempts to begin recovery.
Different areas of the brain will result in various symptoms, depending on where the trauma occurred. Frontal lobe injuries result in loss of higher cognitive function. A cerebellum injury is likely to result in loss of balance and coordination. And a brain stem injury could lead to loss of sexual arousal and will affect such functions as respiration and heart rate.
The most important thing you can do for yourself after an accident is to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. A professional personal injury attorney can help you recover by taking the stress off your shoulders of filing your claims for damages against the party at fault in the accident. Catastrophic injuries result in enormous medical bills, property damage costs, pain and suffering, and loss of earnings, which you are entitled to as damages. Consulting with an attorney is your best line of defense in both alleviating your worry so that you can concentrate on getting better, and making sure that you receive all the damages you are entitled to after your accident to protect you and your family.