Vehicle Accident

Look Out for These Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms After a Motorcycle Accident

biker helmet lies on street near a motorcycle accident

The brain may be an amazing organ, but it’s also amazingly fragile. Even a minor knock can throw off its chemistry.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are one of the most common effects that motorcyclists experience after an accident, and TBIs can be a lifelong condition.

That’s why it’s vital to catch a traumatic brain injury early on by detecting certain signs and symptoms. In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common short- and long-term symptoms to look out for. 

Disclaimer: If you have experienced or are currently experiencing any of the symptoms in this article, please seek medical attention from a licensed professional. Only a qualified doctor can diagnose TBIs.

Short-Term Effects

CT scan of a skull of a patient with traumatic brain injury showing severe depression fracture of left temporoparietal bone of the skull

he short-term effects of a traumatic brain injury may seem minor at first. But the truth is that, like anywhere else in the body, the brain can be seriously injured even if you have a minor wound or no wound at all. It’s also possible that you won’t see any severe effects right away. For example, if you are inexplicably listless, dazed, or easily tired, these may be signs of a deeper problem. Unsteady walking and balance problems should also be cause for concern, and your doctor should administer further tests to figure out the root of the issue.

If you’ve been involved in an accident, it’s vital to get your head checked by a doctor immediately. Even if you experience some of these short-term symptoms weeks or months after your accident, you need to go to the doctor right away.

Physical Symptoms

male having ear pain touching his painful head isolated on gray background

Immediately following an accident, you may notice a few physical symptoms.

The most common physical effect is a headache and temporary loss of consciousness, especially if the accident was more severe.

Don’t disregard a headache as normal—it may be a sign of far greater internal trauma. You won’t know until a doctor takes a look.

Another common physical symptom is a persistent ringing in the ears without any apparent physical cause (tinnitus). This can also come in the form of buzzing, whistling, chirping, humming, or any other tone. It may be continuous or intermittent and may vary in volume.

Tinnitus is often worse when background noise is low, so you may not notice it until you’re in a quiet room. If you do develop tinnitus and have no prior history of this condition, or the tinnitus persists beyond your headache, that may be a sign of a deeper problem. Similarly, tell your doctor if you are experiencing blurred vision, especially if it hasn’t gotten better. You may also experience nausea and vomiting. This could be the result of strain, but it can also occur on its own.

Psychological Symptoms

Portrait of a young man with his head in his hands

The trouble with brain injuries is that the brain isn’t like the heart or lungs. The brain is involved in unconscious physical functions, like breathing, but it also drives our emotional life. So, when the brain is injured, your psychological landscape may be altered as well.

Just take a look at Phineas Gage; he’s the most famous brain injury survivor in the history of neuroscience. Before his accident, he was a mild-mannered man and a model employee. After his accident, he was an entirely different man–he couldn’t stick to plans, became irate, negligent, and impressively profane.

You may not have as marked a change as Gage, but you may notice psychological changes after an injury. Mood swings are common, as is excessive crying, inexplicable irritability or a shorter temper, and increased aggression. Psychological changes don’t get the attention afforded to physical injuries, but they’re just as worthy of a doctor’s visit.

Long-Term Effects

X-ray of the head and brain of a person

Sometimes, the effects of a traumatic brain injury aren’t obvious in the hours or days immediately following the accident. Some people don’t see the impact for months, while other people may not experience symptoms until many years later.

The exact long-term effects vary widely between patients, depending on the severity of the injury and where the brain was injured. Here are a few commonly-documented symptoms to watch for (and to mention to your doctor).

Physical

man wit ha headache lying down on bed with hand placed on head

The physical side effects of a traumatic brain injury may become more severe over time. The severity depends on how serious the injury was and the relative success of recovery.

For example, a common complaint is loss of stamina (wearing out easily), which may persist if you experienced it immediately after the accident. On the flipside, many patients report disruptions to their sleeping patterns (sleeping too much or too little and difficulty in going to sleep/staying asleep).

Some patients experience more severe effects, including seizures, partial or total loss of vision, difficulty judging distances, reduced or total loss of hearing, and increased sensitivity to light and sound.

Other patients experience sensory problems, such as a difficulty distinguishing between everyday objects like coins, difficulty distinguishing movement, or difficulty integrating information collected by their senses into a complete picture.

Any of these problems is worth a visit to the doctor, as they can help mitigate the symptoms and help reduce their overall effects on your life.

Psychological

young man sitting on a hardwood flor with his hands placed on his head

Similar to physical effects, the long-term psychological effects of a traumatic brain injury are insidious and pervasive. You may not even attribute the problems to the brain injury right away.

Nonetheless, the long-term psychological consequences of a TBI can have a critical impact on your quality of life.

Some psychological disorders you could experience include:

  • Depression
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorders
  • Schizophrenia 
  • Bipolar Disorder

According to a 2014 study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry, those with traumatic brain injuries are four times more likely to develop psychiatric disorders than their uninjured counterparts. The study also found that individuals with severe TBIs have a suicide risk almost double that of their healthy counterparts.

If you or a loved one show any signs of developing psychological disorders after a brain injury, you need to visit a doctor immediately. Additionally, if a loved one shows signs of suicidal behavior, this is a sign of deep distress and should not be ignored.

Seek help from a trained professional as quickly as possible—do not leave them alone if someone is an immediate suicide risk. Call 911 and stay until they arrive, or go directly to a hospital if the person allows it. If someone is not an immediate suicide risk, you should still seek help from a doctor as soon as possible. Do not let them out of your sight, but try to be respectful of the person’s feelings. You should also encourage them to communicate with you and with a doctor.

Dealing with Traumatic Brain Injury After a Motorcycle Accident

If you’ve recently been in a motorcycle accident and have experienced or are experiencing any of these symptoms, you’re facing a long road to recovery. But, you don’t have to spend the rest of your life paying for someone else’s carelessness.

Our motorcycle accident attorneys at Giroux Pappas Trial Attorneys know the unique difficulties faced by motorcyclists. We also know how to overcome them. Let us fight for your rights. If you need to speak with an attorney about your options following an accident, click here to set up your free consultation.

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