A serious car crash can tear nerve tissue in the brainEach year, about 1.7 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in the United States according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Many die and some recover, but approximately 5.3 million people in the United States continue to live with a disability caused by their brain injury.

Diffuse Axonal Injury Is a Type of TBI That Can Result in Death or Disability

A diffuse axonal injury, or nerve damage to the brain, can occur without a person ever hitting his head. Instead, this type of injury can occur when the brain moves rapidly back and forth in the skull. When the brain tissue moves in this way, it can result in shearing or tearing of the white matter and nerve cells in a widespread (“diffuse”) portion of the brain. As a result, the nerve cells stop communicating with each other. Loss of consciousness, a coma, a vegetative state, or even death can occur.

Diagnostic tests are useful in determining whether someone has suffered a diffuse axonal injury. Specifically, doctors may use magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) or CT scanning to determine whether an individual—particularly an individual who is unconscious—has suffered a diffuse axonal injury.

How a Diffuse Axonal Injury Occurs in a Car Accident

A diffuse axonal injury is often caused by a motor vehicle accident. While these types of injuries can happen in any kind of car crash where there is rapid acceleration or deceleration of the vehicle, they may be more likely to result from an accident in which one or more cars were speeding.

What the Future Looks Like With a Diffuse Axonal Injury

For those who have suffered a severe diffuse axonal injury, nerve damage, or significant tearing or shearing of white matter, the prognosis can be difficult. Many people with severe forms of this traumatic brain injury will remain in a coma, in a vegetative state, or they will die. Those with mild to moderate forms of this injury, however, may benefit from rehabilitation services such as speech and language therapy, counseling, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.

How to Protect Your Loved One After a Diffuse Axonal Injury

It can be overwhelming and frightening to have your loved one suddenly suffer a diffuse axonal injury in a car crash. You want to help, but you might not know how to do it. While you continue to consult with your loved one’s neurologist and other doctors to determine the best course of medical treatment, you should also consult with an experienced car accident lawyer to discuss the best course of protecting your loved one’s legal rights.

If someone else caused the traffic accident then your loved one—or his or her survivors—may be able to recover damages for things such as past, current and future medical bills, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, and pain and suffering. These damages won’t undo the harm that has been done, but they help prevent financial tragedy from striking your family during this difficult time.

Jason F. Abraham
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Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham