Doctors who specialize in disorders and injuries affecting the brain, spinal cord, and surrounding muscles and nerves are referred to as neurologists. For those involved in a car accident, visiting a neurologist may not be something that is initially considered. But too many people ignore the signs that their accident caused nerve damage, a spinal cord injury, or a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Untreated neurological injuries can lead not only to debilitating pain, but to traumatic, degenerative conditions that affect a person’s ability to perform normal, everyday functions. In this article, we will discuss the signs that tell you when to see a neurologist after a car accident. If you have further questions following a car accident, reach out to our team of Chicago injury lawyers with experience in car accident law for more information.
Signs That You Need to See a Neurologist
Brain and spine injuries do not always present the most obvious symptoms. In fact, these types of injuries are among the most common hidden injuries following a car accident, meaning that they can be easily masked by the shock of an accident and go undiagnosed.
While the type of doctor you need to see after a car accident will depend on the type of injury you suffered, a large number of people are not sure which symptoms indicate which types of conditions. Many people attribute their pains to the “bumps and bruises” of the crash, and do not realize how severely they have actually been damaged.
Additionally, car accident recovery can be a long process with many physical changes along the way. Accident victims need to be diligent in observing their bodies for any new or changing symptoms. Some car accident victims are diagnosed by their treating physician with a concussion, whiplash, or neck injury after a crash. It’s especially important in these cases for patients to be aware of their own healing process, and whether any new pains or symptoms appear.
If you experience any of the following symptoms after a car accident, it is important that you speak with a neurologist as soon as possible. These symptoms can indicate a head or brain injury or nerve damage.
- Loss of consciousness
- Chronic headaches or migraines
- Pain that worsens with activity
- Fainting or feelings of weakness
- Drowsiness or difficulty staying awake
- Numbness or tingling in the body
- Anxiousness, irritability, or mood swings
- Inability to focus or process information
- Soreness in the back, neck, and shoulders
- Vomiting and nausea
- Memory loss
- Light sensitivity
- Loss of vision or blurred vision
- Changes in taste and smell abilities
- Uncontrollable tics, shaking, twitches, or spasms
- Ringing in the ears
- Loss of sensation in the arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers, or toes
- Partial or complete paralysis
- Weakened alertness
- Slurred speech
- Loss of bladder control
- Sleep disorders
- Balance problems
If you believe you may have suffered a back, neck, brain, or spinal injury in a car accident, seeing a neurologist is an important step in gathering the evidence necessary to support your claim. Insurance companies need to have documented proof that the injury you claim to have suffered was diagnosed by a knowledgeable medical professional. A neurologist will be able to make notes and provide medical records of the exact nature of your injuries and how they affect your daily life.
Neurologists—who specialize in neurological injuries—are trained to look for signs of damage in the head, neck, and nerves. A neurologist is highly skilled in detecting developing neurological conditions that other doctors may not notice. Do not ignore the symptoms that something is not right in your own body. Even if an emergency medical technician or ER physician cleared you as healthy immediately after the accident, make the effort to pursue further medical care if any troubling symptoms arise later.
Neurological Conditions That Can Result from Car Accidents
The areas of the body that a neurologist studies are highly complex and extremely sensitive to trauma. One of the most common serious injuries sustained in vehicle accidents is known as a TBI—traumatic brain injury. TBIs after a car accident can result in long-term brain damage and even death. MTBIs—mild traumatic brain injuries—are somewhat less severe but can leave victims with symptoms for weeks or months after an auto accident. Less acute is a concussion, which heals much more quickly than a TBI or MTBI, but can cause damage when left untreated.
Even the smallest factors in the accident can influence how severe your head, neck, or spinal injury is. The force of impact, where the vehicle is struck, how you were positioned at the time of the crash, the speed of the vehicles, and whether or not you were wearing a seatbelt can be the difference between a TBI and a concussion.
While not a complete list of all possible car accident injuries that should be treated by a neurologist, the following covers some of the more common types of neurological damage that have been seen in car accident victims:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue damage to the spine or neck, including sprains and whiplash
- Whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) from untreated soft tissue injuries
- Neck, spine, or skull fractures
- Cerebral contusions or concussions
- Radiculopathy (compression or pinching of nerves in the spinal column)
- Slipped or herniated disc
- Neck cuts and lacerations
- Facet joint injuries
- Pinched nerves
- Spinal cord compression
- Acute mechanical back pain
Steps to Take After a Car Accident Injury
There are many ways that head, spine, and brain injuries affect a person’s life in the weeks or months following a vehicle crash. These can be especially difficult to cope with while you are simultaneously dealing with the other burdens a car accident brings—medical bills, repairing or purchasing a vehicle, looking for alternate transportation options, taking time off work and losing income, caring for family members, and other stressors. There is no doubt that a car accident can wreak havoc on your life.
First and foremost, your health should take priority. Fearing the inconvenience of getting and paying for good medical care should never stand in the way of your health. One of the reasons personal injury law exists is so that people who are hurt by another party’s negligence are not forced to bear the heavy financial burden those wrongful actions caused. After securing the medical help you need to recover from car accident injuries, reach out to an attorney who can provide the legal help you need to recover. Our Chicago legal team is ready to answer your questions. Contact us today.