A car crash can cause many types of serious injuries. Traumatic brain injury ranks among those that can continue to affect your life for years.

TBI occurs as a result of an impact that causes the brain to sustain damage. TBI can happen even if you do not recall hitting your head against a surface; an abrupt stop at a high speed – which often happens in a crash – can cause the brain to hit the inside of the skull.

Initial signs

Severe TBI usually means a prolonged loss of consciousness and marked memory impairment. When TBI is mild or moderate, the loss of consciousness may last for a short time, which you may not even remember. Whether or not you go to the emergency room from the accident scene, you should see a doctor as soon as you can. Be sure to tell him or her about the car accident so you can receive the appropriate check-ups.

Subsequent symptoms

Common TBI symptoms include headaches, nausea, memory loss, lack of focus, irritability, emotional swings, vertigo, and fatigue. Some people also experience impairment of their physical coordination and language abilities. These symptoms can be hard to identify as the sign of something serious, as they may, individually, relate to other, minor, health issues.

However, knowing you sustained a car crash, you should watch carefully for these symptoms in the following days and weeks. If others notice a change in your emotional expression, take them seriously. People who experience mood or personality changes due to TBI often have difficulty noticing their changed behavior.


The effect of TBI can take an unpredictable course and begin to worsen over time. Treatments may include surgery to relieve pressure on areas of the brain, medications to manage pain or nausea, and a variety of rehabilitative therapies to address speech, cognitive or physical impairments. The recovery process can be prolonged, unpredictable and frustrating, as some people recover relatively well, while others continue to struggle indefinitely.

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