Brain injuries are always serious. Some of the most serious ones will never heal. Even “minor” brain injuries can change your life.
That being said, there was often the thought that brain injuries that did heal were a thing of the past. Someone who suffered a concussion in a car accident, for instance, may recover after a week or two and feel normal again. They assumed that meant they were just as fully healed as someone who, say, broke their leg and waited a few months for the bone to heal.
The truth, though, is much more complex.
What is CTE?
Current research has begun showing that brain injuries have a lingering effect and that repeated injuries can lead to serious, sometimes fatal complications. One such complication is a progressive brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CTE is, in many ways, the cumulative impact of repeated trauma. As concussions and similar brain injuries mount, the brain begins to fail. Someone may get through the initial stages of a concussion — such as feeling dizzy — and think that their brain has healed, but they could still struggle with things like confusion, emotional outbursts, memory problems and even serious disorders like depression. This can all come from CTE.
It’s also known that there is at least some link between CTE and dementia. Someone who has a traumatic brain injury while they are young or even middle-aged has at least double the chances of developing dementia as they age. It may be as much as four times as likely.
What can you do?
As you can see, a brain injury suffered in an auto accident can change your life forever, even decades after the crash. You could still develop dementia and other symptoms that all stem from that injury — or from a series of injuries — even if you have all but forgotten how they happened. Dementia is very serious and both it and CTE can be fatal. Make sure you are well aware of your legal options.