Traumatic Brain Injuries as a Result of Pedestrian Accidents
Here is a sobering statistic: each year in the United States, some 50,000 people die as a direct result of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Of all the possible ways to be hurt, an injury to the brain is the most severe. Even if it isn’t fatal, it can lead to serious disability, including paralysis and debilitating cognitive issues.
In fact, over five million Americans currently live with a disability that is related to traumatic brain injury.
One of the most common ways to incur a TBI is a motor vehicle accident, but they can be even more serious when they are a result of pedestrian accidents. If you have been involved in an accident as a pedestrian, it is vital to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Read to learn more about what to do in the wake of this catastrophe.
First, What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury Exactly?
Quite simply, a traumatic brain injury is when the brain is damaged by a physical impact of some sort, such as a bump, blow, or jolt. Think of a time when you have whacked your head against a door frame, or been knocked to the ground while playing a sport and felt your head impact the asphalt.
Concussions are a relatively mild form of TBI. At the other end of the spectrum are severe brain damage and death.
One of the most unfortunate aspects of TBI is that the symptoms might not be noticeable right away. Unlike when you suffer a broken bone or laceration, it is possible to walk away from an accident but still have sustained an injury to the brain.
TBI Symptoms to Watch Out for
When you have been struck by a vehicle, it is extremely important to seek medical attention. Visit the emergency department of your local hospital, an urgent care clinic, or your regular physician either the same day or the next day.
The medical professionals will assess your condition with regard to brain injury by using neurological tests and imaging. They will also explain the symptoms that might develop over the next few days or even weeks. These include:
- Headache, especially if it persists or worsens
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Nausea, with or without vomiting
- Fatigue or sleepiness
- Dilated pupils or any changes to eyesight
- Ringing in the ears
- Seizures or convulsions
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Slurred speech
- Weak or numb arms and/or legs
- Confusion or disorientation
- Any problems with cognition
If you experience any of these symptoms in the period following a blow to the head, contact your doctor or head to the ER immediately.
Primary and Secondary Brain Injuries
When we talk about TBI, there are two elements that make up the injury. The primary injury is that blow or jolt to the head. When this happens, the brain moves inside the skull, often impacting it with a serious level of force.
Secondary injuries involve swelling of the brain. This increases the pressure within the skull. In addition, swelling can lead to additional injuries to parts of the brain that were not initially affected by the trauma.
Some of the possible consequences of either primary or secondary traumatic brain injuries include:
- Contusion (bruising) of the brain
- Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI), in which the nerve axons are damaged by the brain bouncing around inside the skull
- Traumatic Subarachnoid Hemorrhage. This is a technical term for bleeding that occurs in the skull cavity. Normally, this space is filled with cerebrospinal fluid that cushions the brain
- A hematoma, which is the rupturing of a blood vessel, and subsequent blood clots, in the brain
The Long-Term Implications of TBI
While many victims of TBI sustain only a mild concussion that is relatively easy to recover from, others aren’t so lucky. It’s common to experience long-term physical and mental disabilities as a result of TBI. Another common outcome is the onset of depression, anxiety, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
TBI patients may be kept in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit for stabilizing and monitoring. They may require surgery, as well. Other treatments for TBI include medication, physical therapy, cognitive therapy, and occupational therapy.
Unfortunately, experiencing a traumatic brain injury can also make a person more susceptible to degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy.
Pedestrian Accidents and the Law
Another important step to take in the wake of a pedestrian accident is to consult with a personal injury attorney. Given how serious TBIs can be, and how drastically they can change one’s entire life, it is vital to seek legal assistance.
It is very common for a pedestrian accident victim to be temporarily or permanently disabled, and therefore unable to work. They might be entitled to recover medical expenses, the costs of rehabilitation and therapy costs, lost wages, and even damages for their pain and suffering.
Pedestrian accidents fall under the banner of personal injury law. Only a very small percentage of these cases actually go to trial; the vast majority are settled out of court. Nevertheless, if you have suffered TBI or other injuries in an accident that was caused by the negligence of another person or party, you will need a lawyer.
Qualified personal injury attorneys understand case law and precedent, are experienced at dealing with insurance agencies and can ensure that you are made whole again after an accident.
Being injured in a pedestrian accident could mean nothing more than a few bruises and scrapes, or an inconsequential bump on the noggin. Or it could result in a life-changing disability or even death.
There’s an entire spectrum of possibility when it comes to pedestrian accidents and TBI, but one thing is certain: if you’ve been injured, you should seek medical attention and legal recourse.
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