A significant impact or jolt to the head can cause damage to both the structure and function of the brain. While structural damage might be easy for medical diagnosticians to identify, functional damage might only be verifiable through careful observation. Unfortunately, some symptoms do not appear for hours or days after the accident.
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) generally occurs following sudden trauma. There are three levels of severity:
- Mild TBI: This is generally referred to as a concussion. The victim is awake and aware of their current situation but might have lost consciousness for a brief time. They could suffer symptoms including persistent headaches, loss of balance and blurred vision.
- Moderate TBI: A victim of moderate TBI will likely appear only responsive to stimulation. They will appear lethargic and sluggish in their movements or reactions.
- Severe TBI: Medical professionals will generally diagnose a coma state when the victim has been unresponsive to external stimuli for more than six hours.
While the CDC cautions that accidents involving falls is the single greatest factor leading to a diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries, motor vehicle collisions account for 20% of the TBIs diagnosed in the United States.
Depending on the severity of the injury and the victim’s medical history, an individual might struggle for days, weeks or months with serious symptoms. In some cases, the symptoms become life-long conditions. Even a minor collision at low speeds can lead to perceptive difficulties and cognitive challenges. These issues can make it almost impossible for an individual to maintain gainful employment while also fighting to regain a level of pre-accident health.