How Do Motorcycle Accidents Effect the Brain?
In general, motorcycle accidents are a leading cause of fatal injuries in the United States! This is due in large part to the sudden damage to the brain caused by a blow to the skull, which is not protected by a vehicle when it comes in contact with the road.
This article will seek to explain the dangers of motorcycle accidents that cause traumatic brain injury. We’ll also look at the long-term effects of TBI. First, we’ll look at what occurs during TBI as a result of a motorcycle accident. Due to negligence of another, a victim following the rules of the road (even while wearing a helmet) can still become critically injured by no fault of their own.
What happens to the brain during TBI?
When a driver sustains a TBI in a motorcycle accident, the impact causes the brain to move back-and-forth within the skull. The force causes bruising, bleeding, and shearing of the brain in response. Traumatic Brain Injury is classified according to its severity.
The three levels of TBI severity are as follows:
- Mild: awake with eyes open. Symptoms vary but can include confusion, disorientation, headache, loss of memory and consciousness. Motorcycle accidents usually do not cause merely mild injuries.
- Moderate: lethargic. Eyes open and responsive to stimulation. Loss of consciousness can occur and last anywhere from 20 minutes to 6 hours. Cranial edema and bleeding of the brain can cause sleepiness. The victim is able to wake from sleep.
- Severe: unconsciousness occurs. Eyes will not open no matter the amount of stimulation. Loss of consciousness longer than 6 hours.
What are the risks of “focal injuries”?
When only a portion of the brain sustains injury, this type of injury is “focal”. focal injuries are not less severe simply because they only occur in one area of the brain. A focal TBI is still a life-threatening medical situation. If not acted upon quickly by EMTs, the victim is at-risk for permanent impairment.
There are three types of “focal injuries”:
- Contusion: “contusion” is the term medical professionals use to refer to a bruise. When a contusion to the brain occurs due to impact to the skull, this can be referred to in one of two ways; “coup” or “countercoup”. In a coup injury, the brain is directly under the area of impact. In a countercoup the brain injury is on the opposite side of impact.
- Hematoma: to better understand this type of injury, first we must define the meaning of the term. “Hematoma” is defined by medical professionals as “a solid swelling of clotted blood within the tissues.” A hematoma can occur when a blood vessel within the brain ruptures. The ensuing blood that then escapes the bloodstream begins to clot as the body’s natural defense against excessive bleeding. When the brain bounces against the skull on impact with the ground during a motorcycle accident, hematoma can occur.
What are “diffuse injuries” after a motorcycle accident?
When the entire brain sustains injuries due to a motorcycle accident, this is called “diffuse”. Diffuse injuries are extensive and if not treated quickly by medical professionals, the victim is at-risk for permanent brain damage or even death. It’s important to differentiate the three types of diffuse traumatic brain injuries.
The three types of diffuse TBI are as follows:
- Concussion: this is a mild form of brain injury that often causes brief loss of consciousness and under normal circumstances does not cause permanent brain injury. In severe concussions, “post-concussion syndrome” can occur days to week after a blow to the head.
- Traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage: in this type of TBI there is bleeding within the skull around the brain. While this space is normally filled with CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) which acts to protect the brain from injury, when the skull comes in contact with a hard surface with blunt force, the space instead fills with blood. This has long term and long ranging effects on the victim.
- Diffuse axonal injury: “DAI” is a shearing of nerve cells within the brain. This occurs when the brain rapidly moves back and forth within the skull. Nerve axons tear, causing a “shearing” effect. Depending on the level of shearing that occurs, substantial changes in consciousness can occur. This type of injury usually occurs in motorcycle accidents in which the victim was not wearing a helmet.
What are victims’ rights after motorcycle accidents?
After a motorcycle accident with injuries, it’s important to for victims’ to understand they have rights. Only a lawyer with Board Certification can use their due diligence to recover maximum compensation.