You may think of a brain injury in connection with sports; for instance, it is common for football players to experience concussions. However, vehicle crashes, along with falls, account for most of the traumatic brain injuries reported each year in the United States. Do you know why people refer to TBI as the “silent epidemic”?
The two forms of TBI
There are two types of traumatic brain injury. If a foreign object penetrates the skull and enters the brain, you have open TBI. Closed TBI is the more common form, which happens when the head strikes an object such as a vehicle steering wheel, the windshield or the dashboard. There is no penetration involved, just a nasty bump and a possible concussion or more serious brain injury.
A fender bender, such as a low-speed, rear-end collision, can cause the head to jerk forward and backward. This sudden, jerky motion can cause mild brain trauma, which can result in long-term memory and cognitive issues. The symptoms may not appear at the time of the accident, which is why the term “silent epidemic” is sometimes attached to TBI.
Watching for red flags
Children are especially vulnerable to TBI in a car crash because their brains are still developing. Symptoms, however, may not show up for hours, even days, after the collision. Common symptoms include headache, dizziness, unusual drowsiness and a feeling of confusion or disorientation. You should watch for other signs of possible brain injury as well, such as blurred vision, sensitivity to noise or light, trouble with concentration, changes in mood, anxiety and depression.
Getting medical help
You may feel fine after a low-speed collision, but you should see a doctor without delay in case underlying issues exist. Concussion, for example, is a common type of traumatic brain injury that requires prompt medical attention. Remember the term “silent epidemic,” and do not take the seemingly mild effects of a low-speed car crash lightly.