hand pointing to a brain xray

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are among the most common serious injuries sustained in vehicle collisions and other accidents. As researchers continue to study these injuries, we continue to gain a clearer understanding of just how dangerous these injuries really are. Even if a traumatic brain injury isn’t life-threatening, it can still have life-altering effects—and even TBI that have traditionally been classified as minor (i.e. concussions) are now understood to pose long-term risks in many cases. 

With this in mind, when recovering from a serious accident, it is important to be knowledgeable about the signs and symptoms of TBI. 

The traumatic brain injury attorneys at O’Connor & Partners, PLLC have extensive experience in complex brain injury cases. Our team of accomplished lawyers possesses the knowledge, skill, and resources necessary to pursue the maximum compensation to which you may be entitled under the law.

Signs and Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Adults

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website is a good resource for information about traumatic brain injuries. This includes the signs and symptoms of TBI. On its website, the CDC breaks down the signs and symptoms of TBI into four categories: (i) social, (ii) thinking and remembering, (iii) social or emotional, and (iv) sleep. 


Physical signs and symptoms include pain as well as impaired bodily functions. As identified by the CDC, physical signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injuries include:

  • Being bothered by light or noise
  • Experiencing dizziness or having difficulty balancing
  • Feeling tired, lethargic, or lacking energy
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Vision problems such as double vision or tunnel vision

Thinking and Remembering

The CDC’s “Thinking and Remembering” category covers the cognitive effects that can result from various forms of TBI. Early cognitive signs of mild to moderate traumatic brain injuries may include:

  • Difficulty concentrating or paying attention
  • Feeling “slowed down”
  • Feeling foggy or groggy
  • Memory problems (short-term or long-term)
  • Having trouble thinking clearly

Social or Emotional

The social and emotional effects of traumatic brain injuries are often among the most difficult signs and symptoms to diagnose. However, they should not go overlooked. Experiencing any of the following after a traumatic accident could potentially be symptomatic of various forms of TBI:

  • Experiencing sadness
  • Feeling more anxious or nervous than usual
  • Feeling more emotional than usual
  • Feeling irritable or becoming easily angered 


Many people assume that experiencing disturbances in their normal sleep patterns following traumatic accidents is normal. While this can be true to an extent, changes in sleeping patterns can also be symptomatic of traumatic brain injuries. As a result, the CDC warns accident victims to be cautious about:

  • Having trouble falling asleep
  • Sleeping less than usual
  • Sleeping more than usual

Signs and Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Children 

With children, and young children in particular, it can be difficult to detect many of the signs and symptoms listed above. Children may not understand what they are experiencing, and they may also lack the ability to communicate their feelings effectively. As a result, the Mayo Clinic suggests that parents watch out for the following if they are concerned that their child may have suffered a concussion or other form of TBI:

  • Changes in eating or nursing habits
  • Changes in mood or irritability 
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Excessive drowsiness 
  • Inability to be consoled 
  • Inability to pay attention to, or disinterest in, favorite toys or activities

“Danger Signs” Requiring Immediate Medical Attention

In general, anyone who has concerns about a possible traumatic brain injury should seek medical attention promptly. Appropriate rest and recovery are extremely important; and, in some cases, medical intervention will be necessary. However, the CDC indicates that the following signs and symptoms should be treated as medical emergencies: 

“Danger Signs” in Adults

  • Being unable to recognize familiar people or places
  • Experiencing convulsions or seizures
  • Experiencing weakness or numbness
  • Having a headache that gets worse and doesn’t go away
  • Having one pupil that is larger than the other
  • Having slurred speech
  • Losing consciousness or being unable to stay awake
  • Vomiting repeatedly 

“Danger Signs” in Children

  • Having any of the adult “danger signs” listed above
  • Persistent crying that does not stop 
  • Not wanting to eat or nurse

Again, if you have concerns about a possible traumatic brain injury, the most important thing you can do is to seek medical attention. See your primary care physician or your child’s pediatrician if you can get an appointment quickly, but do not hesitate to call 911 or go to the hospital if necessary. 

Contact the New York Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyers at O’Connor & Partners, PLLC

At O’Connor & Partners, PLLC, our New York traumatic brain injury lawyers have decades of experience helping accident victims and families navigate the recovery process. If you have questions and would like to speak with a lawyer, you can call 845-303-8777 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.

by O'Connor & Partners, PLLC
Last updated on - Originally published on

Posted in: Personal Injuries