After a car accident or other head trauma, victims may be confused, unable to remember what happened or realize where they are. If the person comes to their senses, that does not mean they are “okay.”
In addition to concussion symptoms, an untreated brain injury can result in life-threatening or life-altering medical complications. It is critical to seek medical care promptly after any suspected head injury to prevent further brain damage or fatal side effects.
There are other dangers besides brain damage
A discussion of traumatic brain injury (TBI) usually focuses on the symptoms of the brain damage – memory loss, speech problems, balance problems, mood swings. These symptoms may be temporary or lasting, but there is also the danger of other serious complications as well:
- Cranial bleeding – Intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding inside the skull) is not outwardly visible. Brain damage can occur quickly the brain is not getting sufficient blood supply (oxygen). Symptoms such as severe headache, paralysis, vision impairment or speech problems require immediate medical attention.
- Fluid buildup – Cerebrospinal fluid cushions the brain and regulates blood flow. But a head trauma can cause cerebrospinal fluid to leak into spaces in the brain, causing pressure and swelling. If the pressure is not diagnosed and released in a timely manner, brain damage or death may occur.
- Nerve damage – Cranial nerve damage can cause difficulty swallowing, a loss of vision, double vision, paralysis of the facial muscles, a loss of the sense of smell or other major issues. The cranial nerves can be damaged by direct head trauma or by unrelieved pressure from fluid buildup.
- Infections – Infection can occur when penetrating wounds or fractures expose the inside of the skull to open air. The meninges (protective lining) can tear, allowing bacteria to enter the brain. That may lead to meningitis or other dangerous infections.
After an accident, loved ones should be vigilant for the signs of brain injury, and especially signs of dangerous complications. Prompt medical intervention may save their life and halt further damage.