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Why are car crashes a leading cause of brain injuries?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2024 | Injuries

Most people instinctively know to check themselves and other vehicle occupants for signs of injury after a crash. Usually, they look for broken bones, contusions and other obvious injuries. However, people can develop internal injuries that have significant and potentially lifelong consequences. One of the worst potential injuries after a vehicle collision is a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

In fact, motor vehicle collisions are among the top causes of TBIs. Falls, interpersonal violence and contact sports also have a strong association with traumatic injuries to the brain. Why are car crashes so often responsible for serious brain injuries despite improved vehicle restraints and safety systems?

Crashes could hurt the brain in multiple ways

Most people think of blunt force trauma to the head when they think about TBIs. Crashes can easily cause a serious blow to the head, possibly because someone hits their forehead on the steering wheel or the side of their head on a window.

That being said, direct physical trauma is only one of the ways that collisions can injure the human brain. Sometimes, flying glass and other debris can cause penetrating injuries. Projectiles moving at high speeds could cut into the head and damage the brain. Particularly if the entry wound is small, people may not even realize that their brain is at risk.

The power of the crash itself could also cause brain injuries. When the force of the collision causes the vehicles involved to spin or flip over, those violent vehicle motions could shake the brain around inside the skull, causing bleeding or swelling. In rare scenarios involving fires or explosions, percussive force or oxygen deprivation could also potentially lead to brain injuries.

The average person might struggle to notice the early warning signs of a TBI unless it is a severe injury that renders someone immediately unconscious. Anytime a crash is significant enough to put someone at risk of a brain injury, it might be beneficial to seek medical evaluation. A doctor’s diagnosis can connect a brain injury to a car crash.

Those who can prove that a motor vehicle collision caused a potentially life-altering injury may be in a position to hold the driver (or another party) at fault accountable. Pursuing compensation is often easier when there are no questions about the origin of someone’s injuries and expenses.

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