A motor vehicle collision, falls from a significant height or being struck in the head by a falling object can all lead to a serious traumatic brain injury (TBI). These injuries can result in numerous cognitive difficulties making it challenging for victims to maintain gainful employment, grow personal relationships or pursue an education. Unfortunately, a TBI is not always easy to diagnose and treat.
Individuals can exhibit different symptoms in similar brain injuries based on the history of head trauma, the area of impact and the type of jarring motion. In fact, many instances of head trauma will not leave any visible signs of injury or structural damage to the brain. When the jarring motion, or whiplash, of the head and neck is sufficient to cause the brain to crash against the inside of the skull, there might be no outward signs of injury but the victim might suffer functional brain damage.
Functional damage can include a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Personality changes
- Mood swings
- Trouble sleeping
- Blurred vision
- Persistent headaches
- Memory trouble
- Communication challenges
A problem can arise, however, when these symptoms are not immediately apparent. In many instances, the symptoms of a TBI do not appear for days after the collision. With such a delayed onset, medical professionals might not make the connection between head trauma and the inciting event. This is referred to as a “hidden TBI.” When the symptoms themselves are not linked to the collision or impact, then the injury is hidden.
One study compared the symptoms experienced by 143 individuals. The researchers concluded that 7% of those studied were actually experiencing a hidden TBI, that is, an undiagnosed brain injury. In addition, those individuals with the hidden TBI were likely to experience emotional distress following the injury.
If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is crucial that you seek the guidance of a skilled medical professional. If any new symptoms occur or you notice cognitive impairment in the days following a collision, it is imperative that you alert your doctor immediately.