Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 45. Another traumatic brain injury occurs every 15 seconds, and 5 million Americans suffer from some form of disability caused by traumatic brain injury. Anyone care to guess the leading cause of traumatic brain injury? That’s right – automobile accidents.
Brain injury from whiplash can be particularly damaging to the brain. The sudden acceleration and deceleration of auto accidents can actually twist and damage the delicate nerve fibers that make up brain tissue. These nerve fibers are called axons, and when they’re twisted, stretched, or otherwise damaged, it’s known as diffuse axonal injury.
Whiplash is the main cause of diffuse axonal injury (shaken baby syndrome is another common cause), and it normally renders the victim comatose. However, in some cases, diffuse axonal injury may only cause a brief loss of consciousness. Diffuse axonal injury may be difficult to detect or diagnose; because the damage is on a microscopic level, it’s rarely seen with imaging technologies like MRI or CT scans.
High speed car accidents may also cause another kind of brain damage known as isotropic stress. This occurs when a pressure wave moves through the brain at high speeds, damaging the internal structures of individual brain cells.
Brain damage is not always apparent at first. Some people with traumatic brain injury often feel normal and seem normal after their accident. Later, however – days, weeks, or sometimes months after the accident – the victim or a loved one will notice that something is not quite right. It may be a change in behavior, attitude, gait, vision, or speech patterns. Sometimes, the only sign of brain damage may be ringing in the ear.
Often times, victims of brain injury will not notice that anything is wrong until they return to work after the accident. Then suddenly it becomes apparent that their brain isn’t working the same. Undiagnosed brain injury can result in mistakes at work or even the loss of a job.
Unfortunately, brain injury from whiplash is often overlooked. Brain damage can be difficult to detect – and when victims suffer other serious physical injuries (as is usually the case), they’re understandably more concerned with physical pain than new quirks in personality or behavior.
Loss of consciousness and post-traumatic amnesia are signs that brain damage might have occurred. In general, the longer an accident victim is without consciousness, the more likely they’ve suffered traumatic brain injury. Post-traumatic amnesia refers to a loss of memory about events prior to the accident. In general, longer periods of amnesia indicate more severe brain injury.
If you’ve been the victim in an automobile accident – especially if you lost consciousness or experienced amnesia – then you may have suffered a traumatic brain injury. If someone else caused your accident, then they can be held liable for any damages, such as loss of employment, resulting from your brain injury. But you must act quickly! Evidence of brain injury disappears over time, as does physical evidence related to the accident. Call MLN Law at (404) 531-9700 to get the compensation you deserve.