Other than spinal cord injuries or amputations, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are arguably the most life-altering injuries that people can suffer in a car crash. Unlike an amputation or an injury to your spinal cord, a brain injury may not always have symptoms right at the scene of the crash.
Some people walk away and go on with their life, only to realize days or even weeks later that they need medical care and must file an insurance claim. Knowing the most likely warning signs of a potential TBI can help you make the right decisions at the scene of an accident.
If you know that you have experienced at least one of the major risk factors for a brain injury, you can then prioritize getting an exam and treatments if the doctor notices signs of a TBI. When should you seek medical advice because of a possible brain injury after a crash?
If you hit your head
Some people will strike their head on the steering wheel, the dashboard, the seat in front of them or a window. If you took a blow to the head, even if you feel like it’s no big deal, it’s best to err on the side of caution and have a doctor check you for signs of swelling or bleeding on the brain.
If you lost consciousness during the crash
You may not remember that you hit your head because the trauma of the injury briefly knocked you out and may have prevented you from actively remembering what happened during the crash. If you lose consciousness during a crash, even for a few seconds, that could be a warning sign that you suffered a blow to the head or have a TBI. It’s better to rule this kind of injury out than to gamble with your safety.
If the vehicle flipped or spun during the crash
Blunt force trauma isn’t the only way to hurt your brain in a crash. Aggressive motion can also move your brain quickly back and forth in your skull and produce breeding, swelling or bruising. The more violent the crash in the faster your speeds at the time of the collision, the more important it becomes to get checked out for a motion-induced brain injury.
Familiarizing yourself with the signs of a brain injury now is a good idea so that you can monitor yourself and your loved ones carefully if you do ever get into a crash. If you don’t initially suspect a head injury but later start to notice symptoms, seeing a doctor as soon as possible once you suspect a brain injury will usually be in your best interest.