Your brain controls many voluntary and involuntary processes throughout your body, from breathing to recall and movement. Blunt force trauma to the head can disrupt many of those functions, causing swelling and bleeding in the head. For many victims, the impacts of those injuries can prove life-changing. During a car accident, including motorcycle accidents or pedestrian accidents, you may suffer immense trauma to the head, even if you wear a helmet.
Traumatic brain injuries can cause a wide variety of clinical symptoms, including short-term and long-term memory loss and trouble concentrating. Living through the impact of blunt force trauma to the head, however, can feel very different from the clinical terminology. Often, victims suffer life-changing impacts that require substantial accommodations and changes to their lives.
Blunt force trauma to the head can increase anxiety and/or depression.
Living with anxiety or depression can change the entire course of your life. Victims with depressive symptoms may have trouble convincing themselves to get out of bed in the morning. They may have trouble finding the energy to participate in many common tasks, including tasks they once enjoyed. Severe depression can lead to an overall decrease in self-care, including bathing, eating, or sleeping normally.
Victims with anxiety, on the other hand, may have trouble dealing with new situations, or even handling everyday situations in a healthy manner. People with severe anxiety often suffer from ongoing worry about even mundane events. They may have trouble placing an order at a restaurant. Anxiety may grow worse when other symptoms of traumatic brain injury, including forgetfulness, rear their ugly heads.
If you already struggled with anxiety or depression before your head injury, you may have even more trouble following your car accident. Your brain may no longer properly produce the chemicals that help you reduce or eliminate those symptoms, which can make it more difficult for you to control them and resume normal behavior patterns.
Head trauma can make it more difficult to remember things.
In the movies, traumatic brain injury usually gets presented as a long-term memory issue: the long-suffering hero forgets his past, leading to a series of zany or humorous mishaps. By the end of the movie, however, he has usually either moved on with his new life, accepting that he will never recover those memories, or ended up recovering his memories completely. Usually, those memories get displayed as clear flashbacks that let viewers see exactly what went on in the victim’s past. Often, they show up when the victim needs them most, unlocking keys that help him solve a mystery or resolve challenges in the present.
Your reality, however, may look very different. In addition to missing long-term memories, which rarely reappear as cohesive flashbacks and do not seem to show up when you need them, you may have significant troubles with short-term memory that can have a substantial impact on your everyday life.
- Difficulty learning and retaining new information. If you go back to school, attend a class or seminar, or even simply skim over an article that contains new information relevant to your industry, you may have trouble absorbing it. Despite reading the same content multiple times, you may have trouble remembering what you have read.
- Challenges regurgitating information. Victims with traumatic brain injury often struggle to take tests and quizzes. Though they recall the information, it may take time to bring it to the forefront. This can also prove challenging in stressful situations, including situations in which you must deal with clients. Even simply sharing information common in your industry may grow more difficult.
- Trouble recalling the right words, especially technical terms. Everyone occasionally loses a word and has trouble calling it to the forefront. For victims with traumatic brain injury, however, this challenge may increase substantially, especially when it comes to industry-specific terms. You may find yourself struggling to communicate clearly or to get sentences out in a coherent manner. While some victims with traumatic brain injury have an easier time conveying difficult concepts in written format, others may have more trouble with written language than spoken.
- Difficulty finding items when you need them. Traumatic brain injury can make it incredibly difficult to find the items you use in everyday life, from the items you use as you perform your daily job responsibilities to the items you use to take care of yourself at home. You may find yourself opening the same cabinets over and over again, no longer remembering which ones you already looked in, or walking through the house desperately searching for an item that you set down somewhere.
Brain injuries can make it more difficult to control your emotions.
When you look at a list of the symptoms of traumatic brain injury, “lack of emotional control” or “emotional dysregulation” sounds vague and clinical. Living with it in your everyday life, however, can cause immense challenges.
You may have trouble with overreactions.
You saw a cute puppy in a commercial on television and found yourself bawling. Someone persisted in whistling a tune that irritated you, and you completely flew off the handle, unable to control your emotions. On the other hand, things that typically bring you relatively minor joy may cause you to experience immense happiness, at least until the next stimulus comes along.
For many people, the emotional challenges associated with a traumatic brain injury can prove very difficult to manage. You may, for example, find yourself flying into a rage with relatively little warning, or suffering from immense depression over something you would not normally allow to bother you. In the moment, you may find these emotional responses completely logical, or struggle to control them even if you see the lack of logic in your response. It can take considerable therapy to learn how to deal with those challenges and avoid them in the future.
You may suffer from mood swings.
One moment, you may feel on top of the world and able to easily handle whatever challenges come your way. The next, you may find yourself struggling with crushing sadness. On the outside, there seems no obvious cause for the shift in emotions. Unfortunately, the only explanation may lie in your brain’s changing chemistry and struggle to regulate itself following traumatic brain injury.
In some cases, you may have inappropriate emotional responses.
Instead of bursting into tears after hearing about a sad event, you may burst out in laughter. Instead of reacting with anger when someone does something unkind, you may burst into tears. Some patients with traumatic brain injury may have trouble responding appropriately to emotional stimuli, especially in the heat of the moment. Often, these emotional responses may seem inappropriate to others, and you can’t easily explain your response later.
You may have trouble focusing.
Difficulty focusing on a task can make life very difficult for many victims with traumatic brain injury. Before your car accident, for example, you may have enjoyed long hours spent curled up with a good book or playing a favorite video game. Unfortunately, after the accident, you may have trouble concentrating on those tasks. Some people find that staring at a screen or a book makes their heads ache. Others simply cannot draw up the focus to engage with the task at hand.
This difficulty concentrating can also manifest in several other ways in your life.
- You may have trouble completing work tasks. Work tasks often include boring or repetitive work. This can make it more difficult for many traumatic brain injury victims to keep their minds on the task at hand. In many cases, you may find yourself doing the same small piece of a task over and over again, or losing focus on a task and having to start it all over again. When reading over an email, your attention may drift. You may have trouble keeping track of what goes on in meetings, especially if you do not have a direct interest in what people have to say.
- You may struggle to engage in conversation. Keeping your mind on the conversation in front of you can become increasingly difficult following a head injury. You started out carrying on a relatively reasonable conversation with the person in front of you. Midway through the conversation, however, you lost track of what the other person said. You may completely forget the beginning of a story that the other person just told. When telling a story yourself, you may find yourself going over the same information repeatedly, forgetting that you have already shared it with your listener.
- You may lack the focus to enjoy many of your favorite leisure activities. Many leisure activities, from gaming and reading to engaging in exercise, require a certain degree of focus and concentration. If you participated in those activities regularly before your car accident, you may want to go back to them, if possible, once you recover. Unfortunately, some victims of blunt force trauma to the head may struggle to maintain enough focus to participate in those activities. You may not have the ability to engage with friends and family members, and you may need help redirecting your attention to the task at hand.
- You may need more time to perform simple, common activities. When your attention can drift at any moment, you may find that it takes longer than ever before to perform even activities you have taken care of all your life. Just taking a shower or getting dressed may take much longer when you have trouble maintaining focus long enough to get through the activity. You may also have trouble simply responding to emails or engaging in other common activities.
You may suffer changes in sensory perception that continue long after the initial accident.
Some victims with traumatic brain injury note considerable changes in sensory perception. Your sense of taste, for example, may change immensely: you may no longer like foods that once represented favorites, or you may find yourself enjoying foods you would not previously have touched. You may also note that you do not feel heat or cold the same way you once did, or that things seem to smell different.
Visual and auditory changes can prove even more challenging to manage. Some patients discover that, after their car accidents, they have tunnel vision. Tunnel vision can make it impossible to drive or to participate in many sports and activities. Other patients have ongoing trouble with ringing in the ears, which can prove extremely distracting or irritating as time goes on.
Traumatic brain injury can cause personality changes.
Personality changes can prove the most traumatizing or frustrating part of an injury resulting from blunt force trauma to the head in a car accident. Unfortunately, many patients suffer extreme personality changes. Your likes and dislikes may change as a result of the accident. You may discover that your sense of humor changes: things you once found funny no longer amuse you, and things that you used to think annoying now seem funnier than you remember.
Not only can these personality changes prove difficult for you, they can make it difficult to maintain the relationships you had with friends and family members before your car accident. Many friends and family members think of you in a specific way, and they may have trouble adapting their perception of you to fit the you that emerges after the accident. Some personality changes occur only temporarily: you may, for example, feel more combative in the immediate aftermath of your car accident, or struggle with changed emotions. Other personality changes can continue indefinitely. The longer they continue, the harder it can prove for many people to maintain relationships.
Did You Experience Blunt Force Trauma to the Head in a Car Accident?
If you suffered a head injury due to another driver’s negligence, you may have grounds to file a car accident claim for compensation. Contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible to learn more.