Car accidents are not uncommon on West Virginia roads, and many crashes cause head injuries that may range from mild concussions to severe traumatic brain injuries. TBI may cause life-altering symptoms that may last for months or years, and some types of TBI have lifelong consequences. Even a mild concussion may have a significant effect on an individual’s overall health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a TBI happens when a blow to the head disrupts normal brain functions. While not all head collisions cause TBI, many of them do. A concussion is a mild form of TBI whereas a severe TBI may include extended loss of consciousness. Statistics from 2014 show that car crashes are common causes of TBI; in that year, 20% of hospitalizations for TBI came from motor vehicle accidents. For people between the ages of 15 and 44, car accidents were the leading cause of TBI-related hospitalizations.

The Mayo Clinic provides information on both mild and severe TBI symptoms and complications. Mild TBI (concussion) may result in headaches, dizziness and sleep problems. An individual with a concussion may also experience mood swings and/or sensitivity to light or sound.

Severe TBI may create more serious symptoms, including loss of coordination, seizures, ongoing nausea and extreme confusion. Sometimes severe TBI may cause damage to cranial nerves. In some cases, mental, emotional and/or sensory issues may persist for a long time after the initial event that caused the TBI. Some of these possible consequences include trouble communicating effectively, lack of self-control and balance issues. Severe TBI may increase a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s or dementia. According to the Mayo Clinic, the proper use of seatbelts and child safety seats may reduce the risk of TBI in the event of a car accident.