What You Need to Know About Brain Injuries from Car Crashes
Any car accident in Colorado can be terrifying, but few are as catastrophic as those that result in traumatic brain injuries.
Even minor damage to one part of the brain can impact a person’s basic functionality. Paralysis is possible, and so is difficulty with motor functions. The victim’s relationships and personality can also suffer as a result of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and these injuries are particularly difficult for loved ones to deal with. In the most severe cases, brain injuries can result in a coma and total loss of consciousness, which can last the rest of a person’s life.
If your head was struck during a motor vehicle crash, take no chances—see a medical professional immediately. If someone else caused your crash, call a lawyer. You shouldn’t be stuck paying for the costs of your necessary treatment.
What Are the Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries?
How the brain is injured will depend on how the brain was impacted in the collision. TBIs can also come from other sources, such as violent attacks or sports accidents. Some of the most common types of brain injuries include:
- Concussion – When the brain hits the inside of the skull, whether from a sudden impact or a change in direction. Concussions can be caused by a head striking a steering wheel or another part of a vehicle, or when sudden deceleration causes the brain to hit the inside of the skull. It is the most common type of traumatic brain injury.
- Contusion – A contusion is basically a bruise on the brain, which means bleeding is occurring on or inside the brain. Contusions are often the result of a direct impact to the head; for example, a passenger in a vehicle striking his head against the side of the car in a T-bone crash. Large contusions can require surgery to reduce swelling and prevent pressure buildup in the brain.
- Coup-Contrecoup – When damage occurs on two parts of the brain: the initial spot of impact and the opposite side of the brain. This type of injury occurs when there is so much force that the brain is hit, then slams into the opposite side of the skull, where a second impact occurs.
- Diffuse Axonal – These are brain injuries involving excessive tearing of the nerve tissue throughout and around the brain. The violent forces of a car crash can cause a person’s head to shake so much that nerve tissue is torn. This also causes chemicals from the brain to be released, in addition to the initial injury.
- Penetration – Also called an “open” head injury, this is when an object physically penetrates the skull and enters the brain itself. While these injuries are common from gunshot wounds, they can also occur in a car crash when debris or parts of the vehicle penetrate the head. Open head wounds are devastating and often fatal.
Acquired Brain Injuries
Sometimes, the danger comes after the initial collision. Acquired brain injuries are not caused by direct violence to the head, but by other factors that impact the functionality of the brain. There are two main types:
- Anoxic – These injuries occur when the brain does not receive any oxygen at all. This can happen when toxic fumes or chemicals block oxygen from reaching the blood and brain. A car crash that sends a vehicle into water, for example, could cause anoxia due to drowning.
- Hypoxic – These injuries occur when some oxygen reaches the brain, but not enough for it to function normally. A critical drop in blood pressure, perhaps due to cardiac arrest or shock or a ruptured blood vessel in the crash, could cause hypoxia. This would result in a brain injury even if there was no direct impact to the head.
Severity and Consequences of Brain Injuries
TBIs are judged using something called the Glasgow Coma Scale, which relies on several different tests to determine brain functionality. Based on these test results, a brain injury’s severity is indicated as:
- Mild – There is usually brief loss of consciousness, and often dizziness and confusion. Depending on the location of the injury, some sensory loss or difficulty with mobility may occur, and the victim may be at greater risk for cognitive conditions like epilepsy or other brain disorders after the injury.
- Moderate – Moderate TBIs involve a loss of consciousness for a few minutes or hours and extensive confusion that can last for days or weeks. There are often physical or cognitive impairments in the victim, including difficulty performing previously routine tasks. Serious changes in personality can also occur, as well as long-term cognitive disabilities.
- Severe – The worst traumatic brain injuries often result in long-term unconsciousness or coma. Prolonged hospitalization is required, as is surgical treatment. These kinds of injuries typically only have partial recovery from long-term treatment. Victims rarely have a chance to return to their lifestyle prior to the injury.
At the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, our team deals with serious cases involving serious injuries, like TBIs. If you have any questions about a brain injury after a car accident in the Denver, Boulder, or Fort Collins area, please call (303) 665-2929. A free consultation with our top personal injury attorneys can get you started on the road to recovery.
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