The massive amount of force involved in a car crash can produce severe injuries. Some of the most catastrophic injuries are obvious right away. A major broken bone or a spinal cord injury will probably affect someone’s mobility and will be relatively easy for them to identify.
Still, it’s very possible for someone to have a severe injury and not realize it after a collision. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) could cost someone hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical treatments and affect their earning potential, possibly for the rest of their life. A surprising number of people who hurt their brains in a car crash do not realize they have an injury until later. Why do people frequently overlook TBIs after a motor vehicle collision?
Symptoms don’t always manifest immediately
The way that brain injuries develop is somewhat unique. The symptoms people experience are often the result of slowly-building pressure on the brain caused by inflammation, bruising or bleeding. It can take hours if not days after the initial trauma for the swelling of the brain inside the skull or the loss of blood to put enough pressure on the brain to cause noticeable symptoms. Someone might very well notice issues with slurred speech, challenges with balance or memory issues in the days after a car crash even if they did not have symptoms at the scene of the crash. Those symptoms may continue to worsen and change until the injury stops progressing or someone receives treatment.
The body helps hide early symptoms
The human brain responds aggressively to traumatic experiences. Flooding the body with chemicals could allow someone to either fight off a predator or flee a dangerous situation despite having injuries. The body’s stress response may cover pain symptoms and other early warning signs of a potential TBI after a crash. It may only be after many hours have passed that people start to recognize how painful they actually are. Unless a brain injury is so severe that it renders someone immediately unconscious, people could very easily fail to recognize warning signs of a serious health issue that could affect them for years to come.
As a result of these challenges, seeking an appropriate medical evaluation after a high-speed collision or any crash that causes substantial damage to a vehicle can help people get a prompt diagnosis that might improve their long-term prognosis.