Motor vehicle accidents pose a major risk of injury and death in the U.S., particularly to the youth. It’s common for these accidents to lead to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), resulting in changes in physical health, mental capacity, emotional state and behavior. Even minor accidents like fender benders or rear-end collisions can greatly impact brain health, potentially causing TBIs. The severity and direction of the force, location of the injury and individual risk factors can all influence the outcomes of these seemingly minor incidents.
Such accidents frequently require hospital visits and are a common cause of TBI-related fatalities among individuals aged 15 to 34, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states.
Minor crashes, major problems
In a car crash, your head may hit the steering wheel, dashboard, windshield, airbag or seat belt. Alternatively, your head may not hit anything at all. But still experiencing a sudden jolt or acceleration and deceleration may move your brain back and forth inside your skull. This can cause bruising, bleeding, swelling or tearing of the brain tissue or blood vessels.
These injuries can affect different parts of your brain and impair various functions, such as:
- Attention or concentration
- Processing speed
While some of these effects might be temporary and improve over time, others could be permanent. You may need long-term treatment and rehabilitation. Complicating matters further, these effects might not be immediately noticeable following the crash. Instead, they could emerge days, weeks or even months later.
Treat it just like any major crash
Just like with more severe accidents, minor car crashes could also lead to significant brain damage. After an incident, monitoring changes in your physical, cognitive, emotional or behavioral functions is essential. If you notice any symptoms, you should seek medical help immediately. Doctors can assess the extent and location of potential brain injuries and start the appropriate treatment should they find any causes for concern. If the incident involves another vehicle, you may be able to seek justice from the driver who caused the accident through a form of compensation.
Never underestimate the impact of minor collisions; they can have significant implications for your brain health. Stay vigilant, protect your health and legal rights and take every car crash seriously.