After getting into an auto accident, you have to be extremely cautious. You should call 911 and seek medical care even if you think you’re not injured. Why? There is a risk that you could have a delayed-onset injury.
Delayed-onset injuries are some of the worst, because they cause damage unbeknownst to the person who has them. There may be underlying injuries that have not yet come to the surface following an auto accident, and those injuries could put your life at risk.
What causes a delayed-onset brain injury?
With a typical brain injury, there is swelling and edema that causes damage to the brain. This may be on top of the physical impact of the brain hitting the inside of the skull.
Initially, the brain won’t swell. At first, you’ll only have the damage from any impact that happened. There might be damage from shearing the brain inside the skull from a sudden twist, too. A headache, confusion or other signs of a head injury could be present.
Over the next 24 to 48 hours, your brain may begin to swell, though. So, even if your initial injuries didn’t lead to significant pain or dysfunction, you may notice that more symptoms are beginning to develop over time.
For example, your headache might begin to get worse, or you may find that you’re having more trouble with your memory.
A delayed-onset injury could turn out to be deadly
In a worst-case scenario, a delayed-onset injury could turn deadly. You could go to sleep with a headache and go into a coma or worse. That’s why getting help is essential. Don’t worry about the money or time—going to the hospital now is what could save your life.
Complications and secondary injuries can both happen when you wait too long to get help for a brain injury. By seeking out medical attention at the time of a collision, you’ll give medical providers time to identify your risk of brain injuries and to begin treatments to slow down or prevent swelling. They may also be able to stop internal bleeding or other problems that lead to further brain trauma.
After you’re medically stable, you can begin to look into further options, such as making a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. That way, you can focus on your recovery knowing that you have an opportunity for reimbursement.