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One reason why people who drive must be licensed is to ensure that they are properly educated about safety behind the wheel. Small mistakes can prove deadly when you’re in control of a heavy machine traveling around high speeds. Understanding and following traffic laws could save your life one day.

However, you can’t control how others drive. Too many people choose to drive after drinking or taking drugs. Others drive when they know they’re exhausted or barely awake, while still more insist on interacting with their cellphones while driving. All it takes is a few seconds to get into an accident which could cause permanent injuries to yourself or others.

Brain injuries can happen in many ways in a crash

Most people think that brain injuries result from blunt force trauma to the head, and that is true. A large number of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are the result of people struck with something or hitting their head against something. The windows, steering wheel and other surfaces of your vehicle could be hard enough to cause injuries if you strike your head on them in a crash. You could also get hurt when thrown from the vehicle if your head hits the ground.

Penetrating injuries where glass or other debris cut into your skull or brain can also cause TBIs. Similarly, rough shaking or spinning, as occurs when vehicles flip over, can also cause severe trauma to the brain.

Always seek medical care if you suspect a brain injury

If you can stand up and walk away from a serious crash, you may feel lucky just to do that. However, that doesn’t mean you’ve avoided all serious injuries. TBIs often have symptoms that worsen over time, and the adrenaline rush from the crash could mask the initial symptoms.

If you have any reason to think you hit your head, if you lost consciousness even for a second or if your vehicle flipped or spun violently, you should seek medical evaluation as soon as possible. Early intervention with TBIs can improve the prognosis for patients. It can also help ensure that the symptoms of your TBI are directly linked via medical records to the crash.

A TBI can cause all kinds of symptoms, from issues with memory and balance to changes in personality. You may no longer be able to retain the same job, or you could require nursing care for daily tasks. The sooner you take steps to get evaluated and treated, the better.