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Car crashes cause brain injury more often than you think

You may associate head injuries with sports like football or soccer because those injuries often make the news. But what about car accidents?

Vehicle crashes are among the top causes of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries, It is not necessary for the head to hit the dashboard or any part of the car. Brain damage can occur when an occupant is thrown forward by the force of the crash, which causes the brain to strike the inside of the skull.

A little background

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injury affects some 2 million Americans annually with 40% of these injuries resulting from falls and 14% resulting from vehicle accidents. That means car crashes are responsible for about 285,000 traumatic brain injuries (TBI) every year.

Two forms of TBI

There are two forms of traumatic brain injury. An open or penetrating TBI refers to a situation where the skull is cracked or a foreign object pierces the skull and becomes lodged in the brain. A closed TBI, the much more common form, happens when there is a blow to the head. For example, as the victim of a rear-end collision, a driver may hit her head on the steering wheel, or her passenger may hit his head on the dashboard. A closed TBI can also result from an indirect brain trauma -- such as the head being whipped violently forward in a vehicle crash.

Delayed reaction

A concussion, or even a more serious TBI, may not be apparent at the time of the car crash. Instead, symptoms may appear a few hours or even a few days later. These may include dizziness, headache, drowsiness, balance problems, sensitivity to light or noise, problems with memory, blurry vision and unusual mood swings.

The importance of medical attention

Just because a crash victim can basically walk away from the accident does not mean there is no injury. Prompt medical attention is critical. A physician may order X-rays or other tests if a head injury is suspected. The recovery from a concussion takes time; the recovery from a traumatic brain injury may take a great deal of time and rehabilitation.

The injured party cannot know how long recovery will take and how much medical treatment will cost, which is why the best post-accident approach is to explore the legal options available. A victim of traumatic brain injury is deserving of a fair, comprehensive insurance settlement to cover both current and future medical costs, pain and suffering and more.

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