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How to monitor someone for a potential traumatic brain injury

Determining who needs medical care after a major vehicle crash isn't always easy. Some injuries are obvious and easy for even a lay person to diagnose. A broken bone with obvious trauma to the site of the fracture can be visually obvious. Other injuries, however, can be harder to detect right after a car crash.

Brain injuries, in particular, could easily go unnoticed if the people involved in the crash and their loved ones aren't familiar with the warning signs that they may present. After a car crash, especially one that involved violent shaking of the vehicle or a vehicle rolling or spinning, those at risk for brain injuries should be carefully watched for a week or two.

Keep a close eye on anyone who may have suffered a brain injury

The most obvious risk factors for a brain injury related to a car crash include the potential to strike one's head on a part of the vehicle, as well as trauma the brain can suffer during rough shaking. Many car accidents involve situations that could produce a brain injury.

If a loved one has experienced a car accident recently, you should try to watch them for signs of injury. The proper way to monitor someone involves both asking them for self-reported symptoms and observing any changes that you might notice in their behavior or personality.

Symptoms for brain injuries can be very different in different people

One of the main reasons that people don't notice brain injuries right away is that they don't have universal symptoms. How a traumatic brain injury (TBI) presents itself will vary depending on the severity of the injury and the part of the brain affected.

The most common symptoms include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headaches
  • issues with falling or staying sleep
  • changes in sleep patterns
  • changes in mood or personality
  • sensory symptoms such as blurred vision or ringing in the ears
  • dizziness or issues with balance
  • slurred speech
  • loss of consciousness

Generally speaking, anyone who presents with head pain or recalls striking their head or losing consciousness during a crash should receive a proper evaluation for a head injury as soon as possible.

Be aware that delayed symptom onset is common

The issues that cause symptoms after a TBI can stem not just from the initial trauma of the collision but also from the pressure of bruising or bleeding inside the skull, which can worsen over time. Some people who seem completely symptomless at the time of the crash may start showing signs of a brain injury later in the day or even several days later.

Obviously, it is better for a person with a brain injury to receive a timely medical evaluation and treatments to reduce the chances of worsening or additional symptoms. Watching your loved one for symptoms can improve their prognosis.

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