Car accidents are a leading cause of brain injuries, with sometimes life-altering effects. The scope and severity of damage usually depend on the area of the brain that sustained the injury, as explained by BrainLine.org.

An open head injury occurs when an object penetrates the skull and brain. Conversely, a closed head injury is one where the brain bounces back and forth against the skull as a result of external force. Unlike an open injury, which can entail localized damage, in a closed injury the victim is at a greater risk of sustaining damage all over the brain. Whiplash is a type of closed head injury, and the effects can range from mild to severe depending on the circumstances.

Axonal injuries affect the nerve cells that cover the brain. As nerve cells stretch, they also become injured, and communication between the brain and other parts of the body can be disrupted. Front and side injuries are also common in motor vehicle accidents, and these cause damage in the frontal and temporal lobes. A person with widespread brain damage may have difficulty walking, speaking, and regulating emotions. Cognitive problems may also occur, including trouble organizing thoughts or understanding language.

A range of effects may occur immediately following brain injury. A person can lose consciousness, and this state could last minutes, hours, or even years if the person becomes comatose. Once a person regains consciousness, they may have problems remembering things that happened recently. Emotional and neurological effects may also occur. Some people express irritability or aggravation after a head injury. Even with rehabilitation, a full recovery may not be possible when damage is excessive.