If you’ve been involved in an auto accident recently and noticed changes in your sense of taste, keep reading. You may have sustained a concussion. A concussion is a type of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
More than 1.4 million people sustain injuries each year that result in a diagnosis of TBI. Of that number, 20% are caused by auto accidents.
Injuries from TBIs can result in full or partial loss of smell or taste from damage to neural connectors or receptors in the brain. Some 25% of people with a brain injury suffer from loss of taste or smell.
If you have lost your ability to taste after an auto accident, you need to see your doctor immediately for a concussion protocol. which would include a smell and taste test. If your doctor determines you have a TBI, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible to find out what course of action is available to you.
Keep reading to learn more about symptoms, concussion protocols, treatments, and resources related to traumatic brain injuries and how they can impact your life.
What Is a Concussion Protocol?
A concussion protocol includes instructions for monitoring your rest, sleep, and activities after an accident that results in a TBI.
The concussion protocol helps prevent further damage. So it is important to see a doctor immediately and follow the prescribed concussion protocol to minimize your risk, even if you may not be experiencing any symptoms at the time. Many times, symptoms take time to appear.
The symptoms you experience as a result of your concussion may be severe or mild. And they could be temporary or permanent. Sometimes changes are as subtle as a change in diet preferences. Other times the difference can impact your life dramatically.
Symptoms of TBIs and Interventions
When you get your concussion protocol, your doctor will want to know what symptoms you are having. The symptoms people with brain injuries experience can be physical, mental or emotional. And they vary in severity.
Some of the physical symptoms resulting from TBIs include headaches, fatigue, and balance issues. More serious symptoms are seizures and speech impairment.
Symptoms affecting mental capacity include the following:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty processing information
- Trouble concentrating or paying attention
- Problems with organizing elements
- Inability to start or complete tasks
- Inability to focus on more than one thing at a time
TBI symptoms affecting the emotions include anxiety depression, impulsive behavior, a tendency toward agitation, and difficulty coping.
Even after you follow a concussion protocol, you may notice new symptoms such as behavioral problems.
Depending on the part of the brain that is affected, behavioral problems may become an issue. Implement interventions to support your loved one in improving their ability to function. It helps to remember that their behavior is unintentional.
People with TBIs are challenged more by new learning than by their ability to remember old existing knowledge. Here are some ways to help with memory issues:
- Keep noise and distractions low
- Give them a notepad to write things down
- Have structure and routine in your daily activities
For aggressive behaviors, try some of these interventions:
- Remain calm and try to redirect focus
- Agree and validate their feelings, don’t challenge
- Seek to understand their anger
If you have a loved one with severe TBI, be sure to get support for yourself Following are some organizations that can provide resources for you:
- Brain Injury Association of America
- Brain Injury Resource Center
- American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology
Also, seek help from local support groups. Regardless of where you go for support, make sure you have a good legal team helping you as you navigate this devastating loss.
What Causes Loss of Taste?
Losing your sense of taste after a car accident is a clear indication you may have a concussion. If that happens, it’s imperative that you see a doctor and follow the concussion protocol immediately.
Concussions are defined as mild traumatic brain injuries. When you get a concussion protocol, your doctor can help you determine the extent of your injury.
Auto accidents often involve injury to the head area. Trauma to the head increases the risk of damage to the nose, nasal passages, sinuses, olfactory nerve, and the brain.
The function of the olfactory nerve is to send messages that tell the brain what something smells like. The sense of smell provides 95% of our ability to taste.
Loss of the sense of smell and taste can have a negative impact on your life. It can affect your physical, mental and emotional health, and it can affect your safety.
How TBIs Impact your LIfe
TBIs can make it hard to complete daily activities. You may struggle with work or have difficulty getting along with family members.
Severe TBIs require long-term rehabilitation and extraordinary measures to heal. The financial and emotional costs can be high. You can find one family’s story here.
Unfortunately, sometimes a concussion protocol isn’t enough. Brain injuries can have long-term effects on your health and wellness and your safety. The inability to smell prevents you from being able to detect smoke or gas leaks, putting you in danger.
Loss of these senses can affect your social life. Imagine not being able to smell flowers or perfume, or not knowing how the food you cooked for your family tastes. These simple functions may not seem significant, but they can be devastating to daily life and relationships.
There is also a sense of loss in not being able to enjoy your favorite foods, or not being able to check if the milk in the refrigerator is rancid. This sense of loss can cause depression, anxiety, and stress.
The importance of doing a concussion protocol immediately after an accident cannot be stressed enough. Many times people involved in an accident feel fine and they don’t’ follow up with a doctor. Much later, sometimes years later, the effects of a TBI can shatter their lives.
One case involved a retiree who experienced symptoms from a concussion he had sustained years prior that went undiagnosed. The crippling effect of the inability to function diminishes the ability to enjoy life in your golden years.
The aging brain is less resilient. Long-term issues with TBIs can cause more damage and devastation for older patients who will have more difficulty healing.
TBIs can affect your finances as well. Financial impact may include medical costs, legal costs, and loss of income due to disability.
In many ways, a TBI from an accident can diminish your quality of life.
Whiplash Can Cause a TBI
Distracted drivers who are using cell phones, doing personal grooming, or eating cause many accidents. The number of people killed by distracted drivers in 2015 was more than 3,000 and more than 390,000 were injured.
Whiplash can cause brain injury and the loss of taste and smell. It occurs when your head is jolted quickly in a back and forth motion that causes trauma to the brain. A concussion protocol should be followed when you are diagnosed with whiplash.
When you have rear-ended collision, your body is thrust forward but stops abruptly when it’s restrained by your seatbelt. This sudden arrest of motion jerks the head back, causing a lot of trauma to the nervous system
It only takes half a second to sustain this type of injury. In that amount of time, significant damage can occur to the neck and spine, affecting the vertebrae, nerves, discs, muscles, and ligaments. Also, the brain is shaken inside the skull.
While most injuries heal within one year, 20% of the injured suffer from pain and limited function for years after the accident.
Treatment and Recovery
Most people are seen in the emergency room after an auto accident. Whether hospitalized or not, the doctor will do a CT-scan to check for concussion and extent of damage to the brain.
After a concussion protocol, rest and sleep are important to help the brain heal. Added stress prevents your body from using its available resources for healing.That’s why it’s important to avoid putting physical demands on your body.
An evaluation by neurologist or psychologist may be ordered to assess your motor and reasoning skills.
If you’ve sustained a concussion, avoid playing sports or other activities that could result in another concussion. Additional concussions can complicate your condition. If this should occur, be sure you check with your doctor for the proper concussion protocol.
Also, it’s helpful to limit the time you spend on the computer. Mental exhaustion is taxing to the body. Playing challenging games online or even balancing your bank account can interfere with your healing.
Avoid alcohol and use only approved prescribed drugs. Ease back into work to minimize the possibility of further damage.
Here are some things you can do to speed up your recovery:
- Do a lot of reading
- Exercise as soon as you are able
- Maintain your environment as stress-free as possible
- Spend time with family and friends as much as possible
Most mild and moderate TBI symptoms are minimized or eliminated within 6 months to one year from the time of your accident.
You can’t predict how soon someone will recover from a TBI. You may need to continue your concussion protocol for an extended period of time. Doctors will use various tests to check how your healing is progressing.
Financial Impact from a TBI
The costs of traumatic brain injuries can be devastating. TBIs create an economic burden on families and on society.
TBIs are a leading cause of disability. More than half of the people with TBIs have moderate to severe disabilities. This makes it difficult for them to resume their lives after an accident.
TBI patients may suffer from depression and some may attempt suicide if left untreated. These conditions lead to dependency on primary and extended family members for support.
Psychological services and counseling add to medical expenses. Here are some areas where people with TBIs may need help in addition to medical costs:
- Assistance with daily living activities
- Employment and productivity support
- Social skills and relationship management
The economic costs of TBIs in 2010, including direct and indirect medical costs, was approximately $75.6 billion. The financial impact on individual families can also be devastating.
A number of studies have been done to assess the cost of TBIs to individuals. These studies found that cost of recovery for mild to moderate cases was between $25,000 and $80,000 and rehabilitation costs for severe cases was more than $400,000.
If your loved one is facing a moderate to severe TBI, consider applying for social security disability benefits to offset the loss of income.
Seek Legal Assistance
In the past, the medical community believed that a diagnosis of brain injury required the patient to lose consciousness. Today we know brain injury can be present even when there doesn’t seem to be any evidence initially. Symptoms may take time to appear.
But when you are trying to recover damages for injury from a car accident, insurance companies want definitive proof of injury, even when symptoms are present but damage does not show up on an MRI or CT-scan. They will require proof to determine if the symptoms are not from a pre-existing condition unrelated to your accident.
Insurance companies are relentless in finding ways to avoid paying claims for damages. Be sure to document your accident and medical care.
Show you’re proactive by following your concussion protocol. Take photos of your car and keep copies of accident reports and medical bills. If there were any witnesses, get their names to give to your lawyer.
That’s why it’s important to work with a law firm that is knowledgeable about TBIs. Seeking legal counsel as soon as possible after your accident is the best way to get the help you need.
Sometimes accidents happen so quickly you don’t have time to think about the consequences of the accident on your wellbeing.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a traumatic brain injury after an accident, here are some steps you can take.
- Get medical help. Even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms it’s a good idea to get checked out by a doctor. Remember to follow the concussion protocol. Take precautions to be prepared should more serious symptoms show up later.
- Don’t discuss details of your accident. Insurance companies and law enforcement officers will gather information about your accident. Avoid giving details about who was at fault or what injuries were sustained until you see a doctor and speak to a lawyer.
- Contact a lawyer. Even if you’re not sure if you have a legal case, a lawyer can help you sort out the facts and advise you about what to do.
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