Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are arguably one of the most severe injuries you can suffer in a motor vehicle collision. An injury to your brain can affect anything from your balance and physical strength to your cognitive function and personality. In severe TBIs, individuals may even require life-support to handle functions such as breathing, heartbeat and temperature regulation.

Even in moderate and mild brain injury cases, people may find themselves unable to continue working or performing self-care and household tasks that were previously their responsibility. Understanding the three ways in which you could injure your brain in a motor vehicle collision can help you be more proactive about preventing brain injuries when you drive.

Blunt-force trauma can cause substantial brain injuries

Blunt-force trauma occurs when one object strikes another object, typically without breaking the skin or penetrating the skeletal system. Common examples of blunt force trauma in a car crash could include hitting your head on a window or the steering wheel, as well as striking your head on buildings, trees or the ground if you get thrown from a vehicle.

The proper use of restraints, airbags and correct positioning of your seat within the vehicle can drastically reduce your risk for blunt force trauma injuries in a crash. From a seatbelt that stops you from getting thrown from the vehicle to an airbag that inflates and protects your forehead from hitting the steering wheel, safety devices can do a lot to limit the risk of brain injuries due to blunt-force trauma in a crash. 

Penetrating injuries can also cause TBIs

As the name implies, penetrating injuries occur when shrapnel or sharp objects puncture the skin and enter the human body. In a car crash, penetrating injuries can occur in a number of ways. Shrapnel from your vehicle, debris from the road and even components of your vehicle itself could strike and puncture your head or face.

Even small pieces of metal that successfully penetrate the head can cause catastrophic levels of damage to the human brain. What may look like a small wound on the surface could actually have caused more substantial damage underneath.

Violent shaking, spinning or flipping can damage your brain

If you have children, you are probably aware of the condition known as shaken baby syndrome. This tragic medical situation involves a baby who has suffered serious brain injuries because their parents shook or threw them. The act of violently shaking an infant, particularly one who does not have adequate neck muscles to protect the head from moving rapidly, can cause the brain to slosh back and forth inside the skull, damaging itself on the very bones intended to protect it from injury.

The potential for this kind of injury does not decrease with age. If anything, it becomes more significant once the skull finishes closing and fusing in late infancy. Adults who experienced rough and violent motions as part of a car crash can wind up suffering the same kinds of injuries that a baby would experience if shaken by their caregiver.

Regardless of which of these three causes contributed to a TBI after a crash, the consequences can be far-reaching and likely permanent. Physical and occupational therapy can help people recover some functionality, but there will likely be lasting consequences and financial implications for those who suffer a brain injury.