Shaken Baby Syndrome, Whiplash, Blood Flow Issues And How They Can All Cause A Brain Injury

By Brain Injury Law of Seattle

whiplash symptoms

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a relatively broad term used to describe the multitude of injuries that can happen to the brain. TBI is the often result of a sudden assault that damages the brain and is one of the most common causes of disability and death in adults. Though most often, due to physical contact, it is also possible to obtain a traumatic brain injury without receiving any direct contact or physical assault to the body.

The primary effects on the brain include bleeding and tearing that injure nerve fibers and cause inflammation, metabolic changes, and brain swelling. The type of injury also affects how the brain is damaged, with a focal injury confined to one area and a diffuse injury occurring over a more widespread area.


How Does a Traumatic Brain Injury Happen?

Within the brain are around 400 miles of blood capillaries, each small enough so that only one or two blood cells can pass through them at a time. As stated above, a traumatic brain injury can occur without physical contact with the body of any kind.


whiplash injury


Suppose you or a loved one has just been in a car accident – just because you’ve not hit your head doesn’t mean there’s no damage to your brain. Consider that there are multiple instances when your brain can be damaged without direct impact on your body.

How does this happen? Whiplash injury is one of the most common ways.


Whiplash Injury

Often more distinctly thought of as a neck injury rather than a brain injury, whiplash injury can be the devastating motion that causes TBI.


What is Whiplash?

The motion referred to as coup or contra-coup, seen in the image below, is an example of what the brain experiences when whiplash injuries occur.

For example, if you’re in a car accident and your car is rear-ended or hit from behind, this jarring hit causes the brain to move to the front of the skull in a rapid motion. In the same accident, your car then slams into the car in front of it, causing extreme impact to your front, and your brain then impacts the back of your skull.


whiplash symptoms


Whiplash Injury Symptoms

Common whiplash symptoms include:

  • Neck stiffness and pain, swelling, or tendering
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Pins & Needs in Arms, Hands or Shoulders

If you believe you’re experiencing symptoms of whiplash, talk to your doctor to find an appropriate course of whiplash treatment.


Shaken Baby Syndrome


What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Similarly, Shaken Baby Syndrome or Shaking Baby Syndrome is a coup-contra-coup movement of the brain that can result in serious injury or even death in infants and toddlers.

Symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome

Shaken baby syndrome symptoms can be somewhat covert, as with whiplash injury in adults, there are often no obvious external signs of injury.

Immediate Signs of Shaken Baby Syndrome

In both instances, frontal lobe damage is the most obvious sign of TBI. Some frontal lobe injury symptoms include changes in behavior, mood, impaired judgment, and loss of movement on one side of the body.

Additional shaken baby syndrome symptoms include:

  • Changes in nursing or eating habits
  • Persistent crying or irritability
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Lack of interest in toys or activities
  • Lack of ability to pay attention
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of skills such as toilet training, balance, unsteady walking

Reduced Blood Flow To the Brain

Blood flow issues, such as reduced or decreased blood flow to the brain, can lead to traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to the vital role that blood circulation plays in sustaining brain function.

When there is a lack of blood flow to the brain, neurons become deprived of oxygen and essential nutrients, leading to cellular dysfunction and, in severe cases, cell death. This can result in neurological deficits and damage to brain tissue, contributing to the development and exacerbation of TBI symptoms.

Furthermore, reduced blood flow to the brain hampers the ability to regulate pressure, increasing the risk of secondary injuries. Thus, addressing and mitigating low blood flow to brain issues is crucial in preventing and managing TBI.


Signs & Symptoms of TBI

Below are some signs and symptoms for identifying a potential traumatic brain injury. If you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms within the first 24 hours after a traumatic brain injury (or start to develop these symptoms in the following days or weeks), seek medical attention immediately.



  • Headache
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Unequal pupil size
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • New neurological issues such as slurred speech, weakness in arms, legs, or face



  • Loss of consciousness – from a few seconds to hours
  • Decreased level of consciousness (hard to wake up, difficulty staying awake)
  • Confusion or disorientation (mild to severe)
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Irritability & frustration
  • Changes in sleeping pattern



  • Light-headedness, dizziness, vertigo, or loss of balance
  • Blurred vision
  • Hearing problems or ringing in the ears
  • Bad tastes in the mouth
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Excessive fatigue or drowsiness, lack of energy or motivation
  • Mood changes; feeling depressed or anxious; unusual aggression or combative behavior

Predominately, headaches, dizziness, confusion, and fatigue tend to be the symptoms that start immediately after a brain injury and resolve over time. Emotional symptoms tend to develop during the recovery stage – another reason why addressing TBI as soon as possible is so important.


How Is a Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed?

Any traumatic brain injury requires immediate professional assessment. If you believe you have a TBI or want to understand how one is diagnosed, the steps below can help. Similar to the symptoms of mild TBI or concussion listed above, the CDC provides a guideline for various symptoms one may experience if they have a mild traumatic brain injury.


whiplash injury symptoms


Using the list above, if you or a loved one is experiencing 40% or more of the listed symptoms, it’s time to consult with your doctor and get medical attention.


Step One: Primary Care Physician

First, you must seek the advice of your primary care physician (PCP) or a trusted medical professional. Your PCP will ask about your symptoms, run through a few mental tests with you, and, if necessary, refer you to a neurologist for a more in-depth examination.

Step Two: Neurologist

A neurologist will perform several neurological exams to assess your motor and sensory skills, test your hearing, speech, coordination, and balance, and understand changes in your mood or behavior.

Step Three: Testing

In some cases, medical providers will also use diagnostic imaging like computed tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to evaluate the extent of brain injuries. These brain scans can help determine if surgery is needed.

Addressing Traumatic Brain Injuries

A traumatic brain injury can have short & long-term effects on one’s health. While it is possible to live your normal day-to-day life after sustaining a TBI, it may increase the risk of mental health problems, like anxiety, depression, or sleeping problems.

The brain affects how you function in every aspect of your life: how you think, how you feel, how you act, and react to different situations. If a TBI starts to impact your quality of life, your daily motor functions, or your ability to speak or walk, you may be unable to hold a job, resulting in thousands of dollars in lost wages. Treating a traumatic brain injury later on in life rather than immediately after the incident can also result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential future medical expenses.

A traumatic brain injury in children can result in developmental disruptions. It may also limit their ability to participate in sports, other activities, and even the classroom.

If you believe you or a family member may have a TBI, it’s important to address it right away. TBI is a major cause of death and disability, according to the CDC.


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How Brain Injury Lawyer of Seattle Can Help

If you believe you are at risk for a traumatic brain injury or if you have experienced the above symptoms, you should seek the medical advice of a trusted professional. If you believe another party is responsible for your injury, a qualified brain injury attorney can help you get the care & protection you need. Contact us today!