Despite airbags and seatbelts, automobile collisions, particularly of the side or frontal impact variety, cause a good number of mild traumatic brain injuries every year. While these injuries typically come from collisions involving a blow to the head and losses of consciousness, doctors all seem to agree even a violent whiplash is capable of producing a brain injury. These injuries are subtle and often missed by emergency room physicians and family doctors. If picked up they often get written off as post concussion syndrome with patients being advised the condition will abate in a matter of time. People with these injuries often report symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, memory loss, lack of concentration, irritability and mood swings. Other symptoms include an inability to form words and sentences or difficulties performing simple arithmetic. The ability to multi-task is often affected. If the symptoms persist, a patient should be referred to a neurologist who may order simple x-rays, a brain MRI or other specialized scans of the skull. Many times these tests come out negative. This does not mean a brain injury isn’t present. If symptoms continue a referral to a neuropsychologist should occur. These specialists are trained in conducting rather lengthy but non-invasive tests which can determine whether the patient has suffered cognitive difficulties consistent with a mild traumatic brain injury. Although these injuries can be permanent, certain specialized therapies can help the patient learn tools to mitigate the difficulties the injury creates in activities of daily living. Compensation for people who experience these injuries in auto accidents depends in large part upon the ability of the person’s lawyer to recognize the symptoms and make sure an appropriate referral occurs.
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