The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been tracking traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in the U.S. for over a decade. It compiled a report about TBI in the U.S. between 2002 and 2006 and found that 218,934 people went to the emergency room for TBI treatment after a motor vehicle accident during that period. Over 12,000 were children under 5 years old. This is a huge number, and it doesn’t even include two important categories of people: those who were hospitalized or died as a result of the accident, and those who had delayed symptoms.
A new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that ER visits for TBI increased 30% between 2006 and 2010. A CBS News reporter spoke to Dr. Dennis Cardone, co-director of the Concussion Center at NYU Langone Medical Center, who said the increase may be due in part to broader public awareness of the risks of TBI and in part to more participation in sports.
Despite years of study, we are still learning about how to spot TBI and how to treat it. If you were in an accident and hit your head, how do you know if you have TBI as a result of the accident?
There are two types of brain damage that result from a blow to the head: primary brain damage and secondary brain damage. Primary brain damage happens at the time of impact, so it’s easier to diagnose and treat. Skull fractures, bruises, blood clots, and nerve damage are all examples of primary brain damage. Secondary brain damage arises over time, after the trauma. Symptoms of secondary brain damage can be seemingly insignificant and difficult to diagnose as TBI.
A victim of an accident who suffered a head injury shouldn’t dismiss any symptoms as insignificant. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) lists the following as possible physical symptoms of brain injury:
hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears), headaches, seizures, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, decreased smell or taste, and reduced strength and coordination in the body, arms, and legs.
Symptoms of TBI aren’t only physical. You may suffer from TBI if you have problems holding a conversation, concentrating, or find it hard or impossible to complete daily tasks.
If you were in an accident and have any of these symptoms, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Your symptoms may be a result of brain trauma you experienced during the accident. For more information about your legal options after a traumatic brain injury, see our firm’s Frequently Asked Questions about brain injury.