While automobile accidents and other events very often cause obvious injuries, such as lacerations and broken bones, they can also result in less visible injuries that may be even more damaging. Traumatic brain injury, also called TBI, can cause amnesia, headaches, trouble with balance and similar symptoms. However, TBI can also lead more subtle problems, particularly changes in personality. Those who suffer these changes might not notice them until a little later on in the healing process, but they can cause great distress and make returning to pre-accident life much more difficult.
TBI has received increased attention in the last decade due to the injuries experienced by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, we are all at risk, since car accidents are a leading cause of TBI. When a blast or impact affects the frontal lobe, which is the part of the brain behind the forehead, the result can be difficulty making decisions, planning or filtering out inappropriate behavior. These are called “executive functions,” and changes in them can make it hard for sufferers to hold onto their pre-accident employment.
Other patients may experience emotional changes. Some people who were very gentle and easy-going before the accident may become quick to anger or have trouble regulating their feelings. Other people who may have been social and active may find themselves becoming quiet and introspective. These invisible injuries can take a toll on families and coworkers.
With therapy and rehabilitation, those who suffer TBI can sometimes overcome their injuries and avoid permanent disability. However, every person and every injury is different, and the outcome and progression of a traumatic brain injury can be hard to manage. In many cases, intensive treatment is necessary. An experienced personal injury attorney may be able to help those who have had TBI and are suffering from personality changes. An attorney could determine if they are entitled to accident compensation to help with medical expenses and loss of work.
Source: NBC News, “‘A different person’: Personality change often brain injury’s hidden toll”, Bill Briggs, September 28, 2013