Why is it important to see a Neurologist after a Car or Bike accident?

Dr. Navdeep Kumar, MBBS , MD - Medicine , DNB - Neurology

In India, over 1.5 Lakh death were reported under car accident last year. As per the recent findings, an extra 10 lakh accidents of mild to severe state happen across the country. However, the often missed and ignored part of post-accident recovery is the proper neurological treatment. It is so important to visit a recognized neurologist and get an evaluation done to eliminate any chance of possible brain trauma so that timely diagnosis and treatment can be provided.

It must be noted that injuries in the brain are mostly not evident during regular emergency treatment; especially a small clot or bleeding in the brain often gets ignored.

A neurologist can detect a traumatic brain injury by conducting proper neurological examination followed by imaging tests like CT Scan/ MRI Brain.

Always remember, if you or your loved ones have been involved in a car accident, get them evaluated for possible neurological injury, as most go unnoticed at the time of emergency checks.

Symptoms to look for post a car accident

If any person who has suffered a car or bike accident complaints of headache, numbness, nausea, cognitive changes or sleep disturbance, in the days and weeks that followed the accident, there might be an underlying neurological issue. Most of the time these symptoms are ignored as a part of recovery, but it is one of the most dangerous issues which requires immediate attention and care.

Generally, doctors recommend that after a car or Bike accident, a patient must undergo a thorough medical evaluation to look for a possible neurological injury, that may not be noticeable at the time of the incident.

Understanding the Nervous system and impact during an accident.

The nervous system has two primary parts: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system, consisting of the brain and spinal cord, may be affected due to traumatic injuries sustained in an accident. The peripheral nervous system, consisting of nerves linking the brain and spinal cord to the body, may also be affected. Nerve damage is very common among patients of traumatic injury. These injuries may include nausea, weakness, pain, numbness, and bodily imbalance.

Damage to nerves in the nervous system may be evident in the symptoms listed above, but additionally in other ways:

Neuropathy:

Traumatic neuropathy is damage to a nerve in the peripheral nervous system due to trauma. This can include broken bones from the vehicular impact that cause nerve damage. Pressure on such nerves can cause numbness and/or pain or weakness in the impacted area. It is important to refer to your neurologist to assess for reversible/ irreversible nerve damage.

Radiculopathy:

It is the damage of the nerve root as it leaves the spinal column. Radiculopathy is very common in road traffic accidents. Radiculopathy can cause pain that spreads through the neck to arms or low back to legs.

Neurological Injury Due to Vehicular Trauma

Increasingly we are noticing that the leading cause of brain injury in people aged between fifteen to sixty-four are car accidents. Even the seat belts, air-bags, and other safety features in today's safest cars do not prevent the brain from being tossed around one’s skull during a car accident.

Types of Brain Trauma:

There are multiple types of brain trauma, but the most common one witnessed in case of car or bike accidents are

1. Concussion

It is the most common and least serious type of traumatic brain injury. In concussion there is a temporary dysfunction of the brain following a strong impact to the brain. The symptoms may include headache, difficulty in concentration, memory impairment, blurry vision, mood changes, sleep disturbances. Patients usually recover well from concussion injury.

2. Diffuse Axonal Injury

This is usually a severe form of traumatic brain injury in which the long connecting fibers in the brain (called axons) are sheared as the brain rapidly accelerates and decelerates inside the hard bone of the skull. DAI typically injures axons in many parts of the brain, and more than 50% of people who suffer DAI are usually left in a coma.

3. Contusion

This is what is known as a brain bruise which is caused by a blow to the head. Contusions commonly occur in coup or countrecoup injuries. In coup injuries, the brain is injured directly under the area of impact, while in contrecoup injuries it is injured on the side opposite the impact. Depending upon the severity of impact, patients symptoms may vary from mild headaches to coma/death. Contusion is associated with multiple microhemorrhages & small blood vessel leaks into brain tissue. A contusion occurs in 20–30% of severe head injuries.

4. Other Brain Injuries

Subdural and epidural hematomas and skull fractures can also affect the brain in varied ways. Large subdural/ epidural hematomas and displaced fractures often require urgent surgery to prevent permanent brain damage and save a life.


So whenever you know of anyone who has undergone a car or bike accident, do get them evaluated by a neurologist for a detailed neurological assessment and to get aware of any problems that can arise in future.

Remember, prevention is the best cure.