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Car Accident Brain Injuries Are Not Always Easy to Diagnose

Just because a car accident victim is lucid and walking normally doesn't mean they are fine. In fact, many brain injuries do not present themselves immediately. Remember actress Natasha Richardson? She was laughing and talking immediately after her skiing accident. Later that afternoon she complained of headaches and blurred vision. She died two days later. A person with a brain bleed can seem completely healthy and normal, which makes this deadly condition so hard to diagnose.

This sort of injury is typically an epidural hemorrhage. Hemorrhages occur when blood is stuck between the layer of skin between the brain and the bone, known as the dura mater. When blood flows from the blown artery, fluid builds up and it eventually punctures the dura.

Brain injuries from a car accident can be especially dangerous because patients are oftentimes unaware that they have injured themselves. As the brain bleeds it swells, and it will eventually have no room left to grow. Over time blood flow will be restricted and the patient will begin to feel symptoms. Unfortunately, at this point, the damage is done and the patient is known to have "talk and die" syndrome. Symptoms for talk and die syndrome can set in anywhere from a few minutes after the incident but not likely more than three hours.

Because of the delayed onset of symptoms, talk and die syndrome can be hard to diagnose. Symptoms of an epidural hemorrhage include, but are not limited to:

  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Change in mental status
  • Headache

If a person has experienced a substantial blow to the head due to a car accident or any other reason and seems to be showing any of these symptoms, they should be treated immediately.

Source: CNN, " 'Minor' head injuries can turn serious rapidly, experts say," Danielle Dellorto, 3/18/2009

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