Immediately after your car accident on the New Jersey highway, you may feel shaken up and disoriented. However, you are able to get out of your car, exchange information with the other driver and give your account of the event to the police officer who comes to make a report. We at Escandon, Fernicola, Anderson & Covelli, LLP, often advise people who have been in a collision to seek medical attention as their next step.
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons warns that even though a bump on the head may not seem significant at the moment, it could later lead to permanent brain damage.
How the damage occurs
The bruising you may have experienced elsewhere on your body may swell due to the broken, leaking blood vessels. These usually heal on their own. That same bleeding can cause serious issues if it occurs inside the skull, though. The bruise, or contusion, puts pressure on the brain as the blood collects, becoming a mass lesion. When the blood clots, the hematoma can also cause pressure and further injury.
How a doctor diagnoses a brain injury
One of the symptoms of pressure on the brain due to a contusion or hematoma is dilated pupils that do not respond to a bright light. Particularly if only one of your eyes is dilated, the doctor may immediately suspect that you have suffered a traumatic brain injury. In this case, he or she would order a CT scan, which will show whether there is a fracture in the skull or a collection of blood anywhere in the brain.
How delayed symptoms develop
The torn blood vessel in your brain may be so small, it does not cause pressure at first, and it may not show up on the CT scan, either. If it continues this slow bleed, the pressure could build gradually and not begin causing problems for days, or even weeks. You may begin noticing symptoms such as persistent headaches, confusion, vision problems and dizziness as the blood collects. Even if the doctor initially gave you a clean bill of health, you should not hesitate to go back for a second opinion at the first sign of a head injury.
More information about motor vehicle accident injuries is available on our webpage.