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3 surprising ways the brain can change after a traumatic injury

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | Traumatic Brain Injury

The human brain is an incredibly complex and powerful organ. The way that it functions is so complicated that even neurological experts have only a baseline understanding of how the brain operates. They can’t quite explain dreams or memory formation, for example.

Medical care for brain-related health challenges is still rudimentary when compared with other areas of modern medicine. Doctors can pinpoint the location of an injury or a tumor with specialized imaging tests, but they typically cannot reverse injuries to the brain. They may not even be able to predict what symptoms someone could develop accurately.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) caused by car crashes can generate a surprisingly broad assortment of symptoms. They can also trigger significant changes in the brain, including the following.

The brain may rewire itself

Although the brain usually cannot fully heal after a traumatic injury, it can adapt to minimize someone’s symptoms. Neuroplasticity or the ability of the brain to change itself can help people adapt to the physical injuries and functional challenges created by a TBI. After the initial trauma to the brain, other parts of the brain may begin performing functions previously handled by damaged sections of the brain. People can preserve functions that they might otherwise lose and can sometimes even regain seemingly lost functions due to neuroplasticity.

Someone’s cognition may change

The way that someone thinks and experiences the world can shift dramatically after a TBI. Some people notice a change in the personality of an individual with a TBI. Other times, their personalities remain largely the same, but their overall mood might change. Changes in how people perceive the world can also occur. Much of the brain’s processing power goes directly to managing incoming sensory information. A TBI can lead to changes in someone’s vision and other senses that can affect how they perceive and interact with the world.

Brain injuries can alter physical abilities too

The brain doesn’t just control how someone thinks. It also controls motor function and even subconscious actions like respiration and digestion. Severe brain injuries may leave people dependent on life support because their bodies don’t manage subconscious actions appropriately anymore. Even moderate brain injuries could affect someone’s motor function. Some people experience changes to their sense of balance. Others have issues with their fine motor skills. In some cases, people even need to relearn how to walk comfortably because their brain injury can change their gait or walking pattern.

Understanding how a traumatic brain injury could affect the brain itself and an individual’s daily life can help people better predict the long-term consequences of a TBI after a car crash. Those who know what the impact of an injury might be may have an easier time pursuing compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and other losses related to their injuries.