Most injuries are obvious. If you sprained your ankle, you won’t be able to put weight on it until it heals. If you cut yourself, the blood will make the injury obvious. The same is not always true of brain injuries.

A concussion or other injury to your head can sometimes produce immediate consequences. Someone could experience loss of consciousness, dizziness, headaches or blurry vision right after striking their head or experiencing aggressive shaking and vibration.

However, many people who hurt their brains don’t have immediate symptoms. Instead, they will slowly develop symptoms of a traumatic brain injury over several days. Those symptoms can get worse as time goes on. Even minor concussions can cause drastic changes in behavior and memory, which can sometimes prove permanent.

The difficulty noticing early brain injury symptoms is why you should always get yourself checked out by a physician if you strike your head when you fall or during an accident. If you experience rough shaking, that is likely another reason to get checked out, even if you didn’t actually hit your head on anything.

Your skull protects your brain but can also hurt it

You probably know that your skull has the critical primary purpose of keeping your brain safe. The dense bone of your skull can protect your brain, which is your most important organ, from injuries. Unfortunately, if your brain suffers an injury, your skull may actually make it worse.

Concussions and other brain injuries often cause bleeding, bruising or swelling of the brain. Your brain can only push against itself and the skull, with nowhere to go. It can become a bit of a self-perpetuating cycle. The brain bruises and swells, and the skull makes it worse. Symptoms can drastically increase in the days and weeks after the initial injury because of this feedback loop.

The symptoms of a brain injury can change the direction of your life

Your brain handles everything, from keeping your heart beating to helping you figure out when to merge left on the highway. An injury to your brain can affect your memory and your personality. It can also impact your motor function, your sleep and your sense of balance. Some people experience sensory symptoms, such as blurry vision, ringing in their ears or even smells that other people don’t notice.

The symptoms of a brain injury can go away or become less obvious as your brain heals, but that isn’t always the case. Getting early medical intervention can improve your overall prognosis for recovery. Otherwise, those brain injury symptoms could keep you from continuing your career or might affect your ability to live independently in the future.

If the brain injury you deal with is the result of a car crash, you may have the right to hold someone else accountable for the financial consequences of the crash.