Doctors checking medical imaging of the brain after a car accident for signs of a brain bleed | Hauptman, O'Brien, Wolf & Lathrop

Although whiplash is sometimes thought of as a “minor” injury following an auto accident, there are a number of good reasons to take it seriously. Whiplash can cause a brain bleed, among other serious complications.

Bleeding in or around the brain is a medical emergency. While most people assume that they are not at risk for a brain injury if their head doesn’t strike an object during the crash, the reality is that the force of the wreck and the rapid acceleration-deceleration experienced as a result of whiplash may injure the brain.

If you or someone you love suffered whiplash, a brain injury, or other serious trauma in an accident caused by another driver’s carelessness, our lawyers can help. Call Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop at (402) 241-5020 today for a FREE case review.

What Happens to Your Brain After a Car Accident?

Depending on the severity of the crash, your brain may suffer injury as a result of being bounced around inside the skull. These injuries typically occur when the head is forcibly thrown forward and backward during a collision.

If there is no object penetration in the head, this is referred to as a closed traumatic brain injury. Meanwhile, if an object such as a rod penetrates through the skull and into the brain, this is known as an open traumatic brain injury.

Both open and closed brain injuries can lead to brain bleeds. Factors such as the force of the impact, airbag deployment, and contact with the victim’s head determine the severity of the trauma.

How Does Whiplash Affect the Brain?

Studies show that 3 out of every 1,000 accident victims suffer whiplash in a motor vehicle collision. One-quarter of these patients experience chronic symptoms.

Whiplash is associated with a host of adverse effects on the brain, including:

These conditions do not always develop immediately after the accident. It can take years for whiplash-induced brain damage to be diagnosed.

What Part of the Brain Is Damaged in Whiplash?

Some parts of the brain that can suffer mild to severe damage as a result of whiplash include:

  • Temporal lobe
  • Frontal lobes
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Cerebellum
  • Brain stem
  • Hypothalamus

Victims may also suffer deep brain tissue damage, which can cause a varying number of health conditions in the short, medium, and long term.

Read More: What Are the Signs of Brain Damage After a Car Accident?

How Do You Know If Your Brain Is Bleeding After a Car Accident?

Unless you’re bleeding from the ears or nose or have a clear case of elevated intracranial pressure, there’s no simple way to tell if you have a brain bleed. By the time most people find out, it’s already too late; they would likely have either slipped into a coma or died as a result of the bleed.

This is why it is very important to seek medical help even if you feel fine after a car crash. Doctors can order tests to detect any bleeding in the brain. However, there are a few symptoms that may indicate that you have a brain bleed after an accident:

  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Decrease in mental alertness or cognitive function
  • Sudden headaches that start from the back of the head
  • Confusion or lack of awareness
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Unexplained sensitivity to light (photosensitivity)
  • Blurry or impaired vision
  • Seizures
  • Sudden, inexplicable changes in personality
  • Sudden paralysis or difficulty in movement
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Decreased cognitive function

If you experience one or more of these symptoms, you need to get to a hospital immediately. Failure to get medical help can have tragic consequences.

Read More: How Do I Know If I Have a Brain Injury?

How Serious Is a Brain Bleed After a Car Accident?

Very serious. Brain bleeds can be fatal if they’re not diagnosed and treated in time. This is why you must, as a matter of necessity, seek medical help after a car crash—particularly if you lost consciousness or hit your head.

There are five types of brain bleed that victims might suffer if they have a brain injury:

  • Subdural hematoma: Bleeding between the dura mater and arachnoid membrane
  • Epidural bleeding: Bleeding between the exterior membrane of the brain and the skull (the dura mater)
  • Subarachnoid bleeding: Bleeding located within the arachnoid and pia mater membranes
  • Intraventricular hematoma: Bleeding within the brain’s ventricles
  • Intracerebral hemorrhage: Bleeding within any part of the brain

All of these are dangerous to your health because of the fragile nature of the brain. You shouldn’t have any bleeding whatsoever in that part of your body, so injuries resulting in bleeding require you to seek medical help immediately.

Can You Recover from a Whiplash-Induced Brain Bleed?

It is possible to recover from a brain injury following whiplash. Crucial factors that can determine the rate and extent of recovery include:

  • How quickly you sought and received medical help
  • The extent or severity of trauma to the brain
  • The size of the brain bleed
  • How quickly healthcare professionals were able to commence treatment and prevent the condition from worsening
  • Your age and state of health before the accident

As with most traumatic brain injuries, recovery can take time. The Mayo Clinic reports that the optimal recovery window is 3 months. After that, any improvement is marginal or not as robust as the recovery within the first 3 months.

Typically, injured victims whose recovery exceeds the 90-day window may require rehabilitative therapy to make a full recovery. This means that if your family is dependent on you for income, food, shelter, and clothing, you may be unable to provide those while you’re recuperating.

Get Help Today

Whiplash should not be taken lightly. The force of the injury may damage the brain, potentially resulting in life-threatening bleeding.

If someone else is responsible for the crash that caused your injuries, you should not have to face the consequences by yourself. Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop is the most experienced personal injury law firm in the Omaha area.

With more than 230 years of combined experience, our attorneys understand the devastating toll car accidents can take on victims and their families. Our goal is to obtain a thorough understanding of your injuries so we can advocate for maximum compensation on your behalf.

For a FREE case review, contact Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop today. We serve brain injury victims in Omaha, Sarpy County, and all of Nebraska and Iowa.

by Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop
Last updated on - Originally published on

Posted in: Brain & Spinal Cord Injuries, Car Accidents