What are the Long-Term Effects of Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are among the most debilitating injuries victims suffer in car accidents. In the United States, approximately five million people are affected by a TBI-related disability. According to the California Department of Public Health, there were more than 30,000 hospitalizations related to traumatic brain injuries in that state in 2014 alone.

The brain is most commonly injured in a motor vehicle accident as a result of two types of occurrences: (1) when the head is directly struck by or strikes an object, the cerebral cortex can be traumatized (this commonly occurs when the head strikes the steering wheel or dashboard on impact); (2) from whiplash, when the axons of the brain are stretched and damaged, called Diffuse Axonal Injury.

TBI resulting from both types of occurrences can result in serious health effects. Below are some of the most common long-term effects of TBI.

Motor Function Impairment or Disability

Many victims of moderate to severe TBI will experience long-term deficits or disability in their motor functions (movement of the body). Motor skills are classified in two categories: (1) gross motor skills, which are involved in the movement of the arms, legs, and other large body parts; and (2) fine motor skills, which are involved in smaller movements of the fingers, toes, wrists, hands, face, and other smaller body parts.

Examples of gross motor function impairment that may result from TBI include:

  • Partial or total paralysis
  • Uncontrolled movements of the muscles
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor coordination

Examples of fine motor function impairment that may result from TBI include:

  • Difficulty blinking and dry eyes (resulting from impairment to the muscles controlling the eyelids)
  • Difficulty talking or swallowing (resulting from impairment to the muscles of the mouth and esophagus)
  • Difficulty with basic tasks like holding a pen, writing, buttoning shirt buttons, tying shoelaces, etc.

Cognitive Impairment

Cognitive impairment is common among TBI patients and can have a significant impact on quality of life. Disruptive primary cognitive impairment can include:

  • Disturbances of attention
  • Impaired memory
  • Impaired executive functioning

These primary disturbances to cognitive functioning can result in a variety of secondary symptoms that impact the most basic functions of everyday life, including:

  • Distractibility
  • Confusion
  • Impulsiveness
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Difficulties with planning
  • Difficulties with abstract thinking
  • Difficulties determining right from wrong

Speech and Language

TBI can have substantial impacts on a patient’s speech and language faculties, including:

  • Aphasia (difficulty talking or expressing ideas, understanding language, and reading and writing)
  • Slurred speech
  • Abnormally slow or fast speech
  • Difficulties with reading comprehension

Sensory Impairment

TBI can cause irreversible impairment to a victim’s abilities to perceive and process sensory stimuli.


  • Partial or total loss of vision
  • Double vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulties with depth perception
  • Photophobia (increased sensitivity to light)


  • Partial or total loss of hearing
  • Tinnitus (persistent ringing of the ears)
  • Increased sensitivity to sound

Smell and Taste

  • Anosomnia (partial or total loss of smell)
  • Partial or total loss of taste
  • Sensation of a bad taste in the mouth


  • Difficulties identifying touch and pressure sensations
  • Difficulties perceiving temperature
  • Difficulties identifying or perceiving movements of the body

Emotional and Behavioral Impacts

Emotional and behavioral impacts are among the most difficult long-term effects of TBI, since they can be secondary effects of difficulties coping with the physical and cognitive symptoms outlined above. Victims may suffer from depression, emotional volatility, irritability, aggression, social dependency, and lack of motivation.

Luckily, doctors have had success treating TBI patients exhibiting these symptoms with psychological counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Contact a Brain Injury Lawyer

Unfortunately, many of the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries are untreatable or permanent. These effects severely impact the lives of traumatic brain injury patients, as well as the lives of their families and caregivers. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a traumatic brain injury, contact a brain injury attorney in Los Angeles to discuss your options for legal recourse.

The Dominguez Firm is a powerhouse personal injury law firm in Southern California. Our award-winning personal injury attorneys have assisted clients throughout Greater Los Angeles and California. The firm has recovered over half a billion dollars for its clients—money that is vital in supporting the tremendous needs and special care of brain injury victims for the best chance of recovery.

Call today for a free consultation about your case at (800) 818-1818.

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