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Mild Head Injuries: Recognizing the Early Warning Signs


Any blow to the head can result in a head injury, as can any sort of sudden stop or rotational motion dramatic enough to cause the brain to bounce around inside the skull. If you have a serious head injury, you can lose consciousness, or even go into a coma. Remember that any loss of consciousness — no matter how brief — is a sure sign of a head injury and deserves thoughtful medical attention. However, suppose you just take a fall and bump your head, or your car gets rear-ended and you think you might have whiplash and some bruises, but nothing else. How can you tell if you suffered a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

Symptoms of mild TBI often escape notice, especially if you are not already seeking medical attention for other reasons. After an accident, fall or injury, if you notice any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical care.

  • Memory issues — Difficulty with short term memory, blackout periods in which you were awake but have no memory or only a confused memory of what happened during that time and sudden difficulty remembering particular classes of things, like names, faces, or dates
  • Balance and motor skill issues —  Problems keeping your balance or maintaining a steady gait, dizziness and unusual difficulties with fine motor skills
  • Problems with sensory perception and vision — Any changes in vision, including seeing double, loss of peripheral vision, or cloudiness, and any changes in your sense of smell, particularly loss of the sense, or olfactory hallucinations, in which you smell something that doesn’t exist
  • Other physical problems — Nausea, headaches, pain or tingling in the extremities without other obvious cause
  • Changes in sleep — Out-of-the-ordinary difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep, sleeping much more than usual or unremitting fatigue
  • Changes in mood — Increased irritability, decreased patience and volatile moods
  • Cognitive changes — Unusual difficulty staying focused, confusion, difficulty with ordering; for example, looking things up in a dictionary, or choosing the order in which to undertake a series of tasks

In addition to seeking medical treatment, you should consult with a seasoned personal injury attorney with a history of helping TBI victims. Not only will your lawyer be able to help you evaluate your legal options, but experienced injury lawyers may be able to direct you to the right doctors, as well. Medical science is really only just beginning to develop a nuanced understanding of mild TBI, and not all doctors stay as up-to-date on new developments and treatments as they should.