It seems impossible, like one of those urban legends: a person gets into a car accident, but doesn’t appear to be injured. He laughs and jokes with the police, happy to be alive—but when he goes home, he’s exhausted. The stress from the day must have worn him out, and he goes to sleep... but never wakes up.
This isn’t a fairy tale. It’s a real-life occurrence called talk-and-die syndrome, and it happens to numerous head injury victims every year.
What Is Talk-and-Die Syndrome?
The condition is caused by a brain bleed—also known as a hemorrhage—that causes pressure to build up under the victim’s skull. Victims usually feel fine after the accident, so they decline medical treatment—only to deteriorate or even die hours later.
Some of the most worrying facts of talk and die syndrome is that the accidents that cause them often seem minor, causing little or no damage to the outside of the head. As the bleeding continues, the pressure beneath the skull cuts off blood flow to the brain, causing brain cells to die and eventually causing total brain death.
Following These Steps After an Accident May Prevent a Hemorrhage From Becoming Fatal
- Don’t judge the injury by the accident – It doesn’t matter if you were in a car accident, slipped on an icy sidewalk, or were hit in the head by a football—the trauma does not have to be severe to cause a hemorrhage.
- Know the early symptoms – Headache, nausea, blurry vision, sudden fatigue or fainting, and a glazed expression, are all signs that you should get to a hospital as soon as possible to avoid permanent brain damage.
- Get an x-ray – Scans can help diagnose many different kinds of brain injury, including bleeds. Insist that the ER doctor order an x-ray or CT scan to rule out any potentially life-threatening conditions.
- Stay in the hospital – Since symptoms of a hemorrhage can take anywhere from 10 minutes to three hours after the accident to appear, stay near or in the hospital no matter how well you feel. Your recovery will depend on immediate treatment if you begin to show signs of bleeding.
Don’t wait until you’re past help to get treatment—always seek medical attention immediately after an accident. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and prevention is the only way to treat many common brain injuries. To learn more about how to recover from serious head trauma, click the link on this page to read our FREE e-book, Brain Injury Survivor's Guide.