If you have received severe head trauma in a serious car accident, you may be suffering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI). According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the two most common causes of brain injuries are falls and motor vehicle accidents. An estimated 17 000 Canadians suffer a brain injury each year.
Traumatic brain injuries can be mild or severe. A mild TBI could result in a concussion while a severe TBI could result in permanent brain damage. Despite the name, a Mild TBI can have devastating and permanent effects. The short- and long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries also range in severity.
What happens when the brain is injured?
The brain is extremely fragile. When a group of neurons is damaged and dies, the neurons that they used to communicate with no longer receive information. Once these neurons no longer receive neurons from the damaged neurons, they become inactive and eventually die. This is a process known as the cascade effect, and it is how an injury to one part of the brain will, over time, result in damage to the surrounding areas. That is why treatment and intervention are critical during recovery after a brain injury.
Symptoms and Effects
Some of the more common effects of TBI include:
- Loss of ability to read, write, speak, hear or see
- Loss of mobility and muscle control
- Increased sensitivity to noise, touch, or certain types of lighting
- Loss of memory
- Poor or inappropriate language
- Sudden emotional outbursts
- Anxiety attacks
- Changes in personality
There are also physical effects that can result from a TBI, including:
- Paralysis in the arms and/or legs
- Pain in the head, neck or back
- Vision problems
- Hearing problems
- Speech impairment
- Loss of sense of smell
- Frequent headaches
In addition to suffering from a myriad of physical problems, a victim of TBI may also suffer from emotional effects, such as being unable to control feelings. A traumatic brain injury may also cause effects in their social life if communication has been impacted by the injury.
Because many brain injuries are invisible, victims often feel misunderstood andfrustrated. It may be difficult to get people to believe they even have an injury at all, since brain injuries will usually not appear in tests (X-Ray, MRI, CT scan). There is sometimes still a mindset of “if you can’t see it, feel it or hear it, it doesn’t exist”.
Often a TBI victim will be treated as if they have lost their intelligence because of the injury. TBI victims do not lose their intelligence – they lose their ability to use it quickly and effectively.
A victim of TBI may need short- or long-term medical assistance, including the potential need for round-the-clock medical support or live-in care. Because of these considerations, a traumatic brain injury can have a devastating impact on a person’s financial well-being, as well as their health and happiness.
How do I know if I have a TBI?
Most injuries can be seen in some way, either with the naked eye or with medical imaging tools like MRI or CT scans. A Traumatic Brain Injury will not be visible in those scans, but that doesn’t mean the injury is not there.
The symptoms of TBI are not always obvious immediately after the accident. You may only feel different several days, weeks or months later, when you return to work or resume your usual daily activities.