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Can a brain injury have a delayed onset of symptoms?

Delayed injuries are not uncommon in auto collisions, because the body takes time to produce swelling and inflammatory responses. As an example, most people realize that the hard impact to the soft tissue is “going to leave a mark,” but that the mark won’t show up for a day or two. Damage may have taken place, but it takes a few hours or days for bruising to worsen in most cases.

Similarly, other injuries can also have delayed onsets. For example, a brain injury may not be apparent right away, but as the brain becomes inflamed and swells, it’s more likely to show signs of injury.

What are the signs of delayed onset brain injuries?

Like brain injuries with immediate symptoms, those with delayed onset symptoms may cause you to feel nauseated or to develop a headache at first. Some other minor symptoms that could be a sign of a traumatic brain injury developing and worsening include:

  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble with speech

As the injury worsens, it’s possible that the symptoms could become more severe. Inside the skull, the brain may be running out of space to swell, and that puts pressure on multiple areas of the brain. This may lead to further brain damage or death. Signs of a worsening brain injury may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Profound confusion
  • Coma

It’s very important that you seek medical attention for symptoms like these, even if you haven’t hit your head. It’s possible to suffer a brain injury caused by whiplash-like motions, too.

Can you take steps to prevent worsening symptoms?

Yes. One of the things you can do is to seek medical attention immediately after a motor vehicle collision, even if you aren’t sure that you were hurt. At the hospital, a medical team can perform a physical exam and testing to check you over and make sure that you don’t have neurological symptoms. If you do have signs of brain injury without physical symptoms, the team may be able to help you start medications or get other treatments to prevent further damage from developing.

Don’t delay in seeking treatment. The at-fault driver in your collision should be held responsible for any of the costs associated with your treatment.


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