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First Aid for Head Injuries and Traumatic Brain Injuries From a Car Accident

Posted in Brain Injury,Car Accidents on January 24, 2021

When you sustain a head or brain injury in a car accident, it’s not always obvious.  Unfortunately, if you don’t receive immediate attention and care, even a minor head trauma can worsen. Delayed head injury diagnoses sometimes occur when an injured person or a bystander doesn’t recognize the symptoms. As head injuries are common, you and those around you should understand how to identify a potential injury. You should also know how to administer proper first aid. 

Auto accidents cause or contribute to numerous head and traumatic brain injuries each year.  Annual statistics documented by Traumatic Brain Injury Model System show that auto accidents caused or contributed to 50% of the brain injuries in their 18,126 TBI patient database. The most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussion statistics show the following:

  • Approximately 2.53 million people seek emergency room treatment for brain injuries each year, including 812,000 children. 
  • Of those seeking treatment, 288,000 adults and 23,000 children were hospitalized.
  • 58,000 adults and 2,529 children died from their head injuries. 
  • Over an 8-year study period, the CDC documented a 53% rise in brain injury-related emergency visits, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Types of Head Injuries 

Physicians diagnose varying types of head wounds. They all fall within three injury basic injury types. A serious car accident has the potential to cause all three. 

  • Closed Head Injury: An impact twists and shakes the body, causing the brain to strike the inside of the skull. 
  • Open Wound: Debris or metal from a vehicle intrusion fractures the skull and damages the brain.  
  • Crushing Injury: When metal gives way during an accident, an intrusion into the passenger compartment sometimes crushes a section of the skull. This type of trauma often injures one or more areas of the brain.  

Head and Brain injuries include a range of conditions. The American Association of Neurological Surgeon’s TBI page describes the possible conditions that occur due to a head or brain injury. 

  • Mass Lesions: Hematoma, contusions, intracerebral hemorrhage, and subarachnoid hemorrhage cause brain bruising and bleeding
  • Diffuse Injuries: Axonal injuries interfere with nerve functioning. Ischemic injuries reduce blood flow to the brain.
  • Skull Fractures: Damage ranging from simple cracks to compression fractures push bone into the brain.

Identifying Head and Brain Injuries at an Accident Scene

When an accident injury victim displays visible head injuries, bystanders and emergency care providers easily recognize them as serious. Moderate and severe TBIs often display readily identifiable symptoms, as well.

Mild traumatic brain injuries sometimes go unnoticed and undiagnosed. They occur with or without visible head trauma, lacerations, or fractures. The symptoms are often fleeting or mild, if noticeable at all. That’s why it’s important to pay close attention after any serious accident. You might miss the symptoms.

The CDC lists brain injury symptoms under four categories. Not every person with a head or brain injury experiences every symptom. Symptom intensity varies depending on the injury severity. 

  • Physical Symptoms: Headache, blurry or fuzzy vision, nausea. vomiting, dizziness, light sensitivity, balance issues
  • Thinking/Cognitive Symptoms: Difficulty thinking, sense of slowness, problems concentrating, forgetting new facts 
  • Sleep Issues: Sleeping more or less than usual, can’t fall asleep
  • Emotional Issues: Sad, irritable, emotional, nervous, or anxious

Signs of A Serious Brain Injury

When a person sustains a moderate to severe TBI, they display many of the same symptoms as a mild brain injury. They may also develop more intense danger signs. When you notice these symptoms, it usually means the injured person has a serious head trauma that requires immediate attention. 

  • Lengthy periods of unconsciousness
  • Memory loss
  • Intensifying headaches 
  • Serious vomiting and/or nausea 
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Increased confusion,
  • Inability to awaken 
  • Dilated pupils
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness and numbness

Child Head and Brain Injury Symptoms

A baby or young child is more vulnerable to head injuries in an accident. A severe car crash generates an impact that usually shakes or jolts them. Given their delicate physical structures, a serious car accident has the potential to damage a child’s head and brain. Sadly, some children are too young to talk about or explain their symptoms. As you observe your child after an accident, be sure to watch for these head and brain injury symptoms.  

  • Displays one or more of the above danger signs
  • Can’t stop crying.  
  • Refuses to nurse or eat

Observable Symptoms

When someone sustains a head injury in a car accident, they aren’t always aware of their own symptoms. The nature of their condition sometimes prevents them from recognizing the signs and realizing that they’re experiencing an injury. After an accident, it’s important for friends, family members, and bystanders to look for these observable symptoms and help head injury victims get the treatment they need.

  • Appears dazed or confused
  • Doesn’t respond easily when questioned
  • Doesn’t recall what happened
  • Loses consciousness
  • Noticeable personality changes
  • Forgets information

First Aid For Head Injuries and Traumatic Brain Injuries

When you notice someone displaying any of the above signs after an accident, you must act quickly. Dial 911. When the dispatcher responds, explain that you’ve had an accident and you believe someone has a head injury.  Next, take a few cautious steps to assist the injured person. The Mayo Clinic Head Trauma: First Aid page recommends that you take these simple steps while you wait for emergency assistance to arrive. 

  • Help the injured person remain still: Unless it’s necessary, don’t move or reposition the injured person, especially their neck. Have them lie down and elevate their head and shoulders. Don’t remove their helmet if they’re wearing one.
  • Try to stop the bleeding: If you see an open wound, carefully apply pressure using a clean cloth or sterile dressing. Don’t apply pressure if you suspect the person has a fractured skull.  
  • Monitor the injured person: Begin CPR if the person isn’t breathing or showing signs that they are alert.

Head Injuries Are Often Deceptive 

Head injuries are serious, but they often fool even the most knowledgeable people. Everyone should know these facts. 

  • A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). The CDC began acknowledging this several years ago when concussion-related injuries became controversial. Research has shown that using the term brain injury instead of concussion often makes a difference in the quality and extent of medical care.
  • When a person sustains a head injury, they don’t always show symptoms immediately. Mild brain injuries often have mild, sometimes undetectable symptoms that begin minutes, hours, and sometimes days after a trauma.
  • When an injured person does show concussion (mTBI) symptoms, they aren’t always as dramatic as people expect. In most cases, a person with a mild brain injury never loses consciousness, or their loss of consciousness is fleeting.
  • Brain injuries occur sometimes even without a head blow. They occur when the body endures a hard jolt, such as in a severe auto crash. The impact causes the brain to jostle around inside the skull, causing damage. 
  • Concussion (mTBI) damage is often cumulative. If you don’t receive care and allow yourself time to heal, a second head injury often magnifies prior brain damage. 

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney 

If you or a loved one sustained a head or brain injury in a car accident, you should consult with a personal injury attorney immediately. Even a mild brain injury can cause lifetime complications. You need a legal representative who will do what’s necessary to protect your legal rights.

The Law Offices of John Redmann has offices in Gretna and Metairie, Louisiana. We’ve worked hard to recover damages for our injured clients, and we want to do the same for you. To schedule a complimentary legal consultation, call us at 504-500-5000.