Signs You May Have an Undiagnosed Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can have a devastating impact on your way of life and mental health. Unfortunately, both doctors and victims often disregard the symptoms of TBIs, even when they present themselves immediately following an incident. To make matters worse, sometimes symptoms do not appear until days or even weeks later.

Overlooked and often undiagnosed, it can be difficult to prove a TBI claim. That’s why our injury lawyers use sophisticated strategies to investigate and document our clients’ brain injuries. Keep reading to learn more about traumatic brain injuries, signs that may suggest a brain injury, and what to do if you or a loved one has suffered a TBI due to someone else’s negligence.

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injuries are typically the result of the brain hitting the inside of your skull with enough force to damage its delicate tissues. This impact can be caused by a sudden jolt or violent blow to the head. The sudden acceleration and abrupt deceleration of the brain inside the boney skull can result in damage to the brain. Common causes of TBIs include:

  • Falls
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Violent assaults
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Industrial incidents

Like any injury, TBIs have varying levels of severity. Many people do not realize that a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury. While concussions are common and do not typically have a long-term effect on the individual’s health, a significant number of people develop a post-concussion syndrome, which can be disabling.

Types of brain injuries include diffuse axonal injuries, involving damage to the bundles of nerves inside our brains, and coup-contrecoup injuries, where the brain repeatedly bounces off the ridged interior of the skull.

RELATED ARTICLE: A Concussion is a Traumatic Brain Injury

Common Signs and Symptoms of a TBI

Prompt diagnosis of a TBI can lead to a fuller recovery. When your injury is properly diagnosed, your physicians can connect you with neuropsychologists, therapists, and other professionals who can prescribe the necessary brain rest to promote healing, help you cope your symptoms, and help you learn to adapt to any residual symptoms form your brain injury.

Signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injuries include:

  • Loss or alteration of consciousness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness in arms and legs
  • Fatigue or difficulty waking
  • Blurred vision and ringing ears
  • Mood changes and other atypical behavior
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Memory complications
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Alteration of the senses of taste or smell
  • Photophobia or light bothering your eyes
  • Interruption of sleep patterns

Latent Symptoms: How TBIs Can Go Undiagnosed

While some signs are immediate and noticeable, symptoms regarding behavior, sleep, memory, and thought processing might not become obvious for days or weeks following the incident. For example, your symptoms may not be apparent while you are at home resting, but when you try to return to work, you may find that you cannot concentrate or multi-task.

Doctors might also attribute these latent symptoms to other conditions. Depression and PTSD can both occur after a serious car crash, and some of their symptoms overlap with TBIs.

Even when you undergo testing, like an MRI or CT scan of the brain, it may not identify a TBI. Older imaging machines can’t pick up certain axonal injuries—and many ER doctors are looking for obvious, life-threatening injuries, like bleeding or swelling in the brain, rather than subtle nerve damage. ER doctors are notorious for failing to diagnose mild to moderate traumatic brain injuries.

Furthermore, while a doctor may think to look for certain indications of brain injuries, some victims choose not to seek medical care at all because they believe that they are not seriously injured.

The Dangers of Undiagnosed Brain Injuries

If left undiagnosed, traumatic brain injuries can have a variety of long-term effects on your overall physical health, mental wellness, and cognitive ability. Psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse can occur and worsen drastically if a brain injury goes untreated. Medical specialists have even linked severe brain injuries to degenerative issues such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia.

When Do I Need to Seek Treatment After a Head Injury?

If you experienced any alteration of consciousness after a trauma and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should visit a medical center or emergency room to ensure that you do not have a brain injury. Seeking medical treatment is especially important if your symptoms include behavioral or mood changes or if you are experiencing prolonged physical symptoms. It is crucial that you tell the doctors about each symptom you are experiencing.

You should also always visit a doctor after a car crash. While minor injuries might not require immediate medical attention, if you have suffered any head injury, it is crucial that you get checked out as soon as possible.

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Phelan Petty: Standing Up for Traumatic Brain Injury Victims

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, it is important that you work with an experienced attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve. Because TBIs are difficult to diagnose, building a case for a brain injury claim requires a great deal of medical evidence, investigative work, and expert testimony to prove the extent of your injuries and the other party’s negligence.


Traumatic Brain Injury: Symptoms & Causes. (2019, March 29). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.