What Should Families Know About Brain Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents?

By  //  January 13, 2020

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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of motorcycle crashes in the U.S. dropped almost 5% in 2018, which should be good news.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of motorcycle crashes in the U.S. dropped almost 5% in 2018, which should be good news.

However, the NHTSA reports that motorcyclists are still overrepresented in traffic deaths. 

For people who ride motorcycles, safety should be their primary consideration, and other drivers need to be aware of motorcycles on the road. 

There are significant challenges to riding a motorcycle that don’t exist when you’re driving a car. For example, the size and limited visibility of a motorcycle is one reason they can be so dangerous. 

So what happens if your family member is injured in a motorcycle crash? Brain injuries are unfortunately all-too-common in motorcycle crashes, particularly if helmets aren’t worn but sometimes even if they are. 

The following are some things to know about brain injuries stemming from motorcycle accidents. 

The Risk of Head Injuries

When a motorcyclist is involved in an accident, they are often thrown off the bike. This can mean they land on the surface of the road or hit an object. Even when a motorcycle is going at low speeds, the impact of this can cause serious head and brain injuries. 

Anytime there is a deceleration of a rider’s head because of impact, it’s likely going to lead to a brain injury, although the severity of that injury can vary. 

The Effects of a Brain Injury

A brain injury can occur because of the impact of an accident itself. For example, with motorcycle injuries often the axons in the brain are damaged, which are nerve cells. There can also be injures leading to bleeding and swelling in the skull that then damages the brain tissue and nerves. 

Symptoms of a brain injury can vary widely, but some of the potential effects of a brain injury are:

  • Loss of consciousness which can include a coma or being in a permanent state of semi-consciousness
  • Problems with motor skills which can mean weakness, paralysis, or problems with doing certain movements. Sometimes this can also lead to problems with chewing or swallowing. 
  • People with brain injuries may struggle with language and speech. It may be hard for them to make words or understand speech, or they may talk in a way that sounds slow or slurred.  
  • Cognitive deficits can include problems with memory, organization of thoughts, and understanding certain concepts. 
  • A brain injury can have an emotional impact, and a person may experience problems controlling their temper, anxiety or depression among other symptoms. 
  • Following a brain injury, it can be hard for some people to respond to social cues the right way. 

If someone may have a brain injury, the medical team will determine how severe it is by learning more about the situation surrounding the accident, and if it’s possible, talking to the person who sustained the injury. 

What Treatments Are Available for Brain Injuries?

As with everything else involving brain injuries, the treatment depends on the extent of the injury. With a mild injury, although rare when a motorcycle is involved, the treatment is minimal.

Typically, a person may just be instructed to take over-the-counter pain relievers as needed, and to follow-up with their doctor regularly. 

In more severe cases, the initial treatment focuses on stabilizing the person, making sure they have enough oxygen and blood, and preventing any more injury to the head or next.

Immediately following a severe head injury, there may be medications used to put someone in a temporary coma or to prevent them from having a seizure. 

Beyond the initial treatments, most people with a brain injury will need rehabilitation. Depending on how severe the injury, this rehabilitation may take place on an inpatient or outpatient basis. 

Occupational therapy can help someone relearn the things they need to know for daily life. A physical therapist can help someone learn balance, movement patterns, and how to walk, and a speech pathologist helps the person improve their communication skills. 

There can often be many other people involved in a traumatic brain rehabilitation situation. For example, social workers, rehabilitation nurses, recreational therapists, and vocational therapists may also be part of the ongoing treatment plan for someone with a brain injury. 

Recovery from a brain injury can take weeks, months, or years. Someone with this type of injury may never fully recover from their injury. 

The Costs

If your family member suffers a head injury following a motorcycle accident, the challenges can be profound. Along with the emotional and functional effects of a motorcycle accident, a head injury can cause financial challenges for the victim and their loved ones. 

Even with insurance, the cost of medical care for motorcycle accident injuries is tremendous. It can lead to out-of-pocket costs in the thousands, and that doesn’t even take into account long-term care and rehabilitation. 

The person who suffers from a brain injury is also likely to miss work, and in some cases may not be able to work at all anymore. Family members may also have to take off work to care for the person who was in the accident, so both are losing income. 

A head injury from a motorcycle accident can impact a person’s ability to work and earn an income in some cases for the rest of their life. 

Then, there are the costs associated with quality of life. Brain injuries can cause problems in relationships and create strain, and they may lead to mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. 

If your loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident, it might be wise to speak to a lawyer. The tangible and intangible costs associated with a brain injury can severely affect your life and you may receive compensation depending on the specifics of the situation.

Undoubtedly even a mild brain injury is a challenge to deal with in a family, and if you ride a motorcycle, looking out for safety and always wearing a helmet are extremely important.