When you hear the words “traumatic brain injury” or “TBI,” you may automatically picture someone with a serious head wound. You may even assume that they’ll automatically be unconscious or in a coma.
In reality, traumatic brain injuries aren’t always that obvious. It can take hours, days – or even weeks – before the full extent of a TBI is known. Here are three reasons this can happen:
1. Adrenaline and shock
Adrenaline and shock are two ways that the human body responds to trauma. They’re designed to mask pain and the severity of any injuries so that the victim can focus on immediate threats to their survival. That can contribute to the delayed onset of TBI symptoms, which may begin as soon as the body’s stress response begins to fade.
2. Concealed damage
A lot of head injuries are “closed wounds,” meaning that there’s little or no visible damage outside except maybe for a few bumps and bruises. However, bleeding and swelling inside the brain can slowly cause more damage than the initial injury.
3. Biochemical changes
There are biochemical changes in the brain after an injury that can take time to manifest. Disruptions in neurotransmitter function and chemical imbalances can compound, leading to delayed cognitive or emotional symptoms.
Sometimes a TBI is apparent right after a car wreck or a slip and fall. Other times, the victim of the TBI may develop changes in their cognitive function, behavior and personality slowly as the underlying physiological changes progress. Either way, it’s important to find out more about your legal rights as soon as can. That’s the best way to protect your future.