You were just on I-435, trying to get home from work. It was just like any other day—until the driver ahead of you changed lanes without signaling. You slammed on your brakes, but both vehicles collided—and you’ve been having headaches ever since. Is it possible that you suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), even though your head did not strike anything inside the car?
Any Severe Force to the Head or Neck Can Cause a TBI
While the most common cause of brain injury in a car accident involves an object striking the head, there are many different motions that can cause a TBI as a result of sudden braking, including:
- Jerking. When a driver slams on the brakes, his head is often thrown violently forward, then backward. Even if the head does not strike the windshield or headrest, the force of the impact can throw the brain against the front and back of the skull, also called a coup or contrecoup injury.
- Twisting. If a driver’s head is turned during an accident, the impact can cause the head to twist to one side, causing a tearing of the brain stem or trauma to the spinal cord. In many cases, victims will suffer prolonged loss of consciousness (coma). If damage to the spinal cord is severe, victims who regain consciousness may be permanently paralyzed.
- Shearing. Hard braking can also cause an injury known as shearing. This is when the brain is dragged along the rough inner surface of the skull while the car comes to a stop. As the brain shears against the skull, nerve fibers and blood vessels may become torn, causing bleeding and neurological damage.
- Recovering. It is common for brain injury victims to suffer secondary injuries after the trauma from the accident has occurred. For instance, a bleed beneath the skull can place increased pressure on the brain tissue, increasing the risk of brain damage. A patient may need a “window” opened in the skull to reduce intracranial pressure, but this process in turn puts him at risk of serious infection.
In many cases, car accident victims are unable to pursue a case against the at-fault drivers because they need to rest and recover from their injuries. If you are a family member of a brain injury victim, click the link on this page to read our FREE e-book, Brain Injury Survivor's Guide, or click the live chat link below to find out how we can help your relative get justice.