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Bicycle accidents and traumatic brain injury

Indiana drivers are to be congratulated for reducing the number of bicycle fatalities over the past decade. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the number of people who died in Indiana as a result of being hit while biking decreased from 21 in 2006 to 12 in 2015.

But while this is excellent news, it says nothing about nonfatal biking accidents that result in serious injury. One of the most devastating of these is  traumatic brain injury.

The Mayo Clinic defines traumatic brain injury as occurring when an external force causes brain dysfunction, usually as the result of a violent blow or jolt to the head or body. Vehicle-related collisions are a common cause of TBI.

The effects of a traumatic brain injury can be both physical and psychological. Depending on the severity of the injury, some symptoms may appear immediately, but it can take weeks or even months for other symptoms to appear.

People involved in biking accidents should be watchful for physical and cognitive changes including the following:

  • Headaches
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Confusion
  • Weakness or numbness, particularly in fingers or toes.

When a child is involved in a bicycle accident, parents need to watch him or her for such additional traumatic brain injury symptoms as the following:

  • Unusual irritability
  • Sleep habit changes
  • Eating habit changes
  • Depressed or sad mood
  • Decreased interest in favorite activities or toys.

Even a mild traumatic brain injury is a serious matter. People who have received a blow to the head as a result of being hit by a car while biking or being involved in other types of biking accidents need to receive prompt medical attention. An accurate diagnosis and treatment are critical.

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