A direct blow to the head, or even the whiplash action of a car crash, can cause brain damage. Many people who survive a head trauma accident feel lucky that they did not lose the ability to read and write and perform basic tasks. They are eager to resume their lives.
But brain damage manifests in many ways. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) victim who has no physical side effects or cognitive deficits may seem like … a different person to you. Psychological problems and even a dramatic change in personality are not uncommon with TBI. That person needs medical help and deserves compensation, the same as a TBI victim who has blurred vision or chronic headaches.
Why might a TBI victim feel like a different person?
The human brain is complex. Different parts of the brain control different functions. So the aftermath and outward signs of brain injury depend on the location and the severity of the brain damage. Just as a spinal cord injury can interfere with the ability to move your limbs, a brain injury can interfere with the way the brain processes information, which in turn may effect emotional responses and behavior.
The wide range of symptoms from a TBI can include:
- Emotional turmoil -- Uncharacteristic mood swings, outbursts or impulses.
- Fogginess – The person often or always feels like they are in a dream state they can’t shake off.
- Depression or anxiety – The person may become sad and withdrawn, or agitated and restless. This can be a chronic condition due to the brain damage, not just “a phase.”
- Amnesia – It’s common for trauma victims not to remember the accident, but some don’t remember anything before the accident. They function normally yet don’t remember who they were or don’t recognize their loved ones.
- Personality change – Some TBI victims literally become a different person. They may change their trademark hairstyle, their activities, their mannerisms, their friends, even their political leanings and belief systems. A bubbly, outgoing person becomes shy and serious, or vice versa.
The impact of personality changes on victims and families
The victim may say that they “don’t feel like myself” even if they can’t put their finger on what’s different. Friends and family often notice personality changes before the victim does. Loved ones may be more understanding than co-workers or bosses, but the changes can greatly affect family dynamics and relationships. These changes are hard on everyone in the household.
There are resources for families dealing with a traumatic brain injury. However, medical and non-medical treatment costs money. The lasting effects of a TBI on personality or cognitive skills could make it difficult to continue working, creating additional financial constraints.
If another person's negligence or recklessness caused a TBI accident, you could pursue compensation for your injuries. Successfully doing so could provide you with the financial resources to get the help you need. If you are considering a lawsuit, start documenting the changes -- every hardship, every symptom, everything that is different about your loved one.