Car Accident Head Injuries FAQs

Car Accident Head Injuries FAQs

What are the different types of head injuries from car accidents?

  • Concussions: the most common
  • Contusions: bruising of brain tissue
  • Diffuse Axonal Injuries: DAI – tearing of nerve fibers
  • Coup-Contrecoup Injuries: brain impacts skull on opposite sides
  • Hematomas: blood clots
  • Skull Fractures: often indicate potential for other brain damage

What is the most common head injury sustained in a car accident?

Concussions are the most common head injury following a car accident. A concussion occurs when the brain is violently shaken inside the skull due to sudden changes in speed or direction.

How do I know if I have a brain injury after a car accident?

Seek prompt medical attention if you experience one of these symptoms:

  • Watch for changes in consciousness: confusion, loss of consciousness
  • Physical symptoms: headaches, nausea, dizziness, sensory changes
  • Behavioral changes: irritability, mood swings, unusual sleep patterns

Should I go to the hospital after a car accident if I hit my head?

Yes, any car accident where you hit your head warrants medical evaluation. Even if you don’t feel injured immediately, brain injuries can have delayed symptoms. Seeking immediate professional assessment is the safest course of action.

Can a minor car accident cause a brain injury?

Absolutely. The severity of a brain injury isn’t determined by how severe the car accident appears but by the forces acting upon your brain inside the skull. Even a seemingly minor fender-bender can cause significant injury if your head is jolted.

What is a mild traumatic brain injury from a car accident?

A mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is the more formal medical term for a concussion. While classified as ‘mild’, concussions should never be taken lightly as they still require proper medical attention and rest for a full recovery.

How long after a car accident can head injuries appear?

While some head injuries are apparent immediately after an accident, others may take hours, days, or even weeks to cause noticeable symptoms.  Therefore, it’s absolutely critical to seek medical evaluation following any car accident, even if you don’t feel any initial symptoms.

How long after hitting your head can a brain bleed occur?

The timing of a brain bleed can vary. Some types of brain bleeds, like epidural hematomas, develop rapidly and become obvious soon after the injury. However, others, like subdural hematomas, can form more slowly over days or weeks. This is why continuous monitoring for signs of a brain injury after a head impact is so important.

How do you know if you have a brain bleed after hitting your head?

Seek immediate medical help if you notice any of the following danger signs after a head injury: intense and worsening headaches, repeated vomiting, one pupil appearing larger than the other, slurred speech or weakness on one side of the body, or seizures.

What are five danger signs of a head injury that warrant immediate medical attention?

Seek emergency medical help for any of these symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Worsening headaches
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Changes in behavior or mental status

What are the 3 common delayed symptoms of a concussion?

While initially you might feel okay after a head injury, look out for delayed concussion symptoms, including difficulty concentrating or remembering things, mood changes like increased irritability or depression, and a heightened sensitivity to light and noise.

What is the general 24-hour protocol for a head injury?

While your doctor will provide specific instructions, the 24-hour protocol after a head injury usually emphasizes three things:

  • Rest: Avoid both physical and mentally demanding activities for initial recovery.
  • Observation: Keep a close eye for worsening symptoms that could signal a serious injury.
  • Graduated Return to Activity: If your symptoms don’t worsen, your doctor will slowly allow you to resume normal activities while being carefully monitored.

What are symptoms of brain swelling?

Brain swelling can cause similar symptoms to other head injuries, but often more severe. If you notice any of these signs, get immediate medical help:  severe and worsening headache, persistent vomiting, confusion or agitation, slurred speech or difficulty speaking, seizures or convulsions, and weakness or numbness in your limbs.

Can you hit your head and not get a concussion?

Yes, you can hit your head and not have a concussion. However, since some injuries have delayed symptoms, seek medical attention after any head impact for proper diagnosis and to stay ahead of potential complications.