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What Is A TBI And How Are They Caused By A Car Accident?

A motor vehicle accident is the third leading cause of closed head injuries resulting in traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Other causes include falls (#1), an accidental blow to the head (including sports injuries) (#2), and assault.

Those with inherently increased risk for experiencing traumatic brain injury following motor vehicle accident include those with prior brain injury (prior concussion), younger age groupings (0 to 24 years of age), older age groupings (75 years of age and older).

Factors Related To The Passengers Which Are Associated With Increased Incidence Of Traumatic Brain Injury Include:

  • Unrestrained passenger
  • Inappropriately-fitted child car seats or restraints
  • Passengers under the influence of drugs or alcohol

At the core, traumatic brain injury is a process of neurologic injury resulting from biomechanic impacts to the brain by either direct or indirect force which alter the function (and possibly structure) of the nervous tissue which composes the brain.  It is important to note that structure by way of neurologic imaging (CT, MRI) may appear normal despite deranged function.

Factors Related To The Accident Which Can Be Associated With Traumatic Brain Injury Include:

  • Direct impact of the head with another fixed object within the vehicle (dashboard, window, windshield, fellow passenger)
  • Loss of consciousness immediately following the impact
  • Dynamics of the impact between vehicles or between the vehicle and non-vehicle structures (barriers, buildings, utility poles.

Signs and Symptoms of a TBI

The spectrum of traumatic brain injury manifestation is very broad both in terms of duration of signs or symptoms (days to years) as well as the nature of those signs or symptoms. 

Commonly reported symptom following a traumatic impact can include: 

  • Headache
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Dizziness or imbalance
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Changes with visual or auditory acuity
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Disruption of the normal sleep-wake cycle
  • Changes in physical stamina (fatigues easily).

Immediately following a motor vehicle accident the initial focus by emergency services personnel would be for life-threatening injuries such as intracranial hemorrhage, acute blood loss, neurologic dysfunction impacting the proper function of the cardiopulmonary systems, injuries to organs by foreign bodies, and displaced fractures.  Save for these or similar injuries, a common diagnosis following evaluation by emergency medical providers could be “superficial injury to the head” or “scalp contusion” or “concussion.”

TBI Diagnosis

It is important to understand the concept of PROCESS in regard to traumatic brain injury.  Traumatic brain injury is not diagnosed with a single symptom, laboratory test, or radiology study.  Just the same, no treatment course or plan is the result of a single visit with a medical professional and no single medication or drug is used incomplete treatment of the condition.  This process is both limited by and driven by the resilient yet brittle nature of the nervous system in the context of a multitude of diagnostic and treatment options available to clinicians in treating patients afflicted with such an injury.

The most important part of treating traumatic brain injuries beyond the emergency room is to first diagnose them in a clinical setting.  This includes an involved history and physical examination by a qualified medical professional.  The provider will rely on the history which is provided by the patient (many times also relying on a symptom diary or log) as well as any corroborating history provided by relatives, co-workers, or those who cohabitate with the patient. 

The provider will then best be able to decide which additional testing is indicated:  expanded neurologic imaging, neuropsychiatric evaluation, subspecialist consultation or referral, metabolic testing. 

A combination of these steps coupled with the individual needs of the patient (include the nature of the neurologic dysfunction) will dictate the treatment process. 

Treatment Options

Depending on the nature of the injury, common elements of the treatment plan and process include:

  • Physical Therapy,
  • Occupational Therapy,
  • Speech Therapy,
  • Psychology or Psychiatric consultation
  • Pharmaceutical agents
  • Social support

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit