An emergency room physician should be prepared to respond to your questions about your symptoms, and can help determine if you show any immediate signs of brain injury, or if you should go through testing or further examination for possible injury.
It is a common mistake to assume that a brain injury cannot result from a low-speed traffic accident. There is now substantial medical literature, establishing that brain injury can occur even as the result of "minor" traffic accidents. Don't allow yourself or your physician to be fooled by the "minor" nature of the accident -- if you show any signs of a brain injury, you should explore the possibility that you have suffered one.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can arise from a variety of causes. The most common cause is a direct blow to the head of the injured person. However, a brain injury can occur even without a blow to the head - the brain can be injured by colliding with the inside of the skull.
The brain can "ricochet" inside the skull as the result of an accident, resulting in injury even with little or no direct force to the outside of the head. Brain injuries can occur suddenly, as the trauma causes tissues in the brain to tear, or can occur as a result of swelling or bleeding of the brain following a traumatic incident.
TBI can result from violent shaking (as with "shaken baby syndrome," sometimes seen in abused children), a loss of oxygen to the brain, poisoning or infection.
Serious brain injuries are usually apparent at the time of injury. However, mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) is less likely to be diagnosed. Symptoms associated with MTBI include:
- Brief loss of consciousness;
- Loss of memory immediately before or after the injury;
- Any alteration in mental state at the time of the accident;
- Focal neurological deficits.
Traumatic brain injury can significantly affect an injured person's mental, physical and psychological well-being.