Concussions are probably the most common injury following a motorcycle accident. Unfortunately, they are one of the more ignored injuries that are suffered by bikers. It isn’t because doctors do not care or are incompetent. It is just that immediately following a motorcycle crash, the broken bones, dislocations and road rash tend to take precedence when there is no obviously severe head injury. However, even when the rider is wearing a helmet, there is almost always a violent collision involving the bikers head and the ground sufficient to cause a concussion. The helmet often prevents a severe head injury and protects the skull from fractures and lacerations. After the accident, the injured motorcycle rider will also focus on the other injuries and will tend to view headaches, nausea and dizziness as something that will pass. Those symptoms are serious and should be immediately reported to a physician, but unfortunately they usually go unreported.
Concussions Can Cause Psychiatric Disorders
Until the late 1990s doctors generally separated concussions from traumatic brain injuries and concussions were considered relatively benign. However, most medical professionals now agree that concussions should be placed on the spectrum of traumatic brain injuries. Most medical professionals also recognize that even a single concussion can cause an increased likelihood of future psychiatric disorders. Many of these disorders involve personality changes that are reported by the family of the motorcycle rider. In my practice, unfortunately the client rarely tells me the entire story. In the case of head injuries, it is almost always a phone call from the significant other that will alert me to the possibility of personality changes after a motorcycle accident.
Changes After a Head Injury
The accident victim will, in many cases, not be completely aware of any personality changes between pre-accident and post accident. It will generally be the family members that will notice these differences. Some common changes that family members might notice include:
1. General Personality Changes – These changes can be subtle or striking. The individual may have been outgoing and energetic before the accident and may seem more reserved after the motorcycle accident.
2. Aggressive Behavior – After a motorcycle accident the victim of a head injury may become more aggressive or confrontational.
3. Self Centered Behavior – The family may notice that the victim appears apathetic or self centered.
4. Changes in Sexual Behavior – These changes can be demonstrated by either less interest or more interest in sexual activities following an accident.
5. Mood Swings – After a motorcycle accident, loved ones may notice that the accident victim displays volatile mood swings.
6. Poor Memory – Many concussion victims complain of and loved ones notice that the victim has a very poor memory. The memory deficits can be minor such as constantly losing items to very significant memory deficiencies such as being unable to find one’s way home without a GPS.
7. Lack of Awareness of Deficits – In many cases, the biker with the traumatic brain injury will be unaware of many of the personality changes.
What Can The Family Do To Help?
First, and foremost, get professional assistance. Accompany the loved one to the next appointment with the lawyer or doctor and voice your concerns. Many motorcycle accident victims, especially men, tend to downplay their medical issues. It is counterproductive to seek treatment while not fully disclosing one’s medical condition. For the loved ones, it is important to give the accident victim as much support as possible. It is also important to avoid confrontation and making comparisons between the loved one pre-accident and post accident. If the changes are severe, the loved ones should also seek counseling or support groups, so that they can adapt and understand the issues faced by their injured loved one.
Currently, the treatment for the psychiatric disorders stemming from a head injury are no different than treatment for the psychiatric disorder itself. That does not mean that it is not important to quickly report symptoms of head injuries, as some symptoms such as prolonged nausea and dizziness can be representative of medical conditions that require immediate treatment. The good news is that, because of the publicity of concussions provided by the NFL, studies and treatment trials are being started daily. Hopefully, we can reach a point where timely diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injuries can prevent some of the long term psychiatric disorders.
Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Lawyer at Jones Law Group
Have you or a loved one been injured in a motorcycle accident? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg motorcycle accident attorney at Jones Law Group today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by the negligence of another, you should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.
Jones Law Group
5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707
 Lishman WA. Organic Psychiatry: The Psychological Consequences of Cerebral Disorder. 3rd ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell Science; 1998.