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How Car Accidents Impact Neurological Function and How Does a Neurologist Help

How Car Accidents Impact Neurological Function and How Does a Neurologist Help

Neurological disorders caused by car accident injuries have a significant impact on the American quality of life. Over 2.1 million people suffered injuries severe enough to send them to the emergency room after traffic accidents in 2020, according to the CDC. In addition, 10,000 people died per year on average between 2018 and 2019 from traumatic brain injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents, according to another CDC report.

The short-term and long-term risks of neurological conditions in accident survivors are considerable and include:

  • Difficulty keeping a job
  • Difficulty maintaining social relationships
  • Drug abuse
  • Infections
  • Physical and mental disability
  • Suicide

The consequences of nervous system injuries after a car accident can be devastating. It is crucial for anyone involved in a car accident to be alert for signs of neurological injuries and be proactive in seeking appropriate medical care as soon as possible. 

Types of Injuries That Affect Neurological Function

One in five traumatic brain injuries occurs due to motor vehicle accidents, according to the Brain Trauma Foundation. Each type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause different neurological problems that would lead you to see a neurologist.

Open Brain Injuries

Open brain injuries occur when a force breaks the skull or an object penetrates the skull. These injuries are often severe and cause profuse bleeding and brain swelling. They require immediate emergency medical intervention to prevent permanent brain damage or death.

Closed Brain Injuries

Closed brain injuries include concussions and brain bleeds within the skull. Although the head injury might not be as readily apparent in the aftermath of an accident, it can cause neurological issues such as cognitive impairment, permanent brain damage, and death.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a disorder that occurs years after one or more traumatic brain injuries. CTE produces a variety of symptoms, including emotional instability, coordination problems, confusion, and memory impairment.

CTE remains a mystery to researchers in some respects. In a 2019 study of athletes, a population at risk for CTE, TBIs are a risk factor for CTE, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. CTE has similarities with Alzheimer’s disease, particularly the buildup of abnormal tau proteins.

Psychological Symptoms

The function of the nervous system depends on psychological and physical health. The AURORA study found in 2022 that over 27% of people who experienced motor vehicle accidents showed symptoms of depression or a major depressive episode within eight weeks of the accident. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a natural response to life-threatening situations, including motor vehicle accidents. PTSD causes debilitating symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, difficulty sleeping, avoidance of the location of trauma, and flashbacks to the traumatic experience.

Depression involves many changes in neurological and mental function, such as changes in mood, sleep patterns, diet, memory, and cognitive function.

The Time Course of Neurological Injury After Accident

Neurological disorders caused by car accident trauma change over time due to the healing process, inflammation, infections, lifestyle changes, and other factors. The role of your neurologist also changes throughout the process.

During the initial weeks following the accident, the neurologist will assess and monitor the patient. If the initial trauma included skull fractures, brain bleeding, or swelling in the brain, the neurologist might recommend surgery to prevent long-term brain damage. The patient might be in a coma or a minimally conscious state.

In the next few months, the brain recovers from damage. Some conditions, such as paralysis, memory impairment, vision problems, and motor coordination issues, might improve as the brain rebuilds damaged connections. Physical therapy is often critical during this stage.

Improvement typically continues as the brain heals and patients learn to compensate for any remaining deficits. The neurologist will follow up with the patient and support the patient during this time. 

Neurological Treatment for Auto Accident Injuries

Traffic accidents were the second most common cause of traumatic brain injury in most countries, according to a 2019 study in The Lancet

According to a 2021 report by the CDC, 57% of people who suffer traumatic brain injuries have moderate or severe disabilities. Proper treatment of neurological disorders can shorten the recovery time and increase the likelihood of a full recovery.


Your neurologist might prescribe medication to promote nerve healing, manage the symptoms of the brain or spinal cord injuries, and prevent symptoms from developing in the future. New medicines might interact with medications you are already taking, so be sure that all your doctors know what medication you are taking and if you have any known allergies.

Physical Therapy

If you suffer a brain or spinal cord injury, you might not be able to move or control your body as you once did. For example, your muscles could be weak or stiff due to abnormal neural signals. As such, you might have reduced mobility and activity levels.

Physical therapy helps patients relearn how to do the tasks they need to return to work and have independence in daily life.

Brain or Spinal Surgery

Neurologists will typically try to treat neurological conditions with medication and therapy to reduce the risks of complications.

Frequently Asked Questions About Neurological Treatment for Car Accident Injuries

People often ask the following questions about the neurological disorders caused by car accident trauma.

Will Insurance Cover My Treatment if I See a Neurologist After Car Accident Injuries?

Our doctors accept most insurance plans, including no-fault, PIP (personal injury protection), and worker’s compensation

For example, according to New York Regulation 68, no-fault insurance covers up to $50,000 in expenses. 

These expenses include medical bills. However, we cannot guarantee that your insurance plan will cover treatments for neurological disorders caused by car accidents. In New York, if you do have car insurance in your household, you can file a claim with the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC)

If another driver or an automotive defect contributed to the accident, you might be entitled to compensation from the responsible parties, which could cover the cost of neurological assessment and treatment.

Your health matters. Don’t let your insurance company stop you from receiving the high-quality care you deserve. Be active in seeking out the best possible care.

How Can I Find the Top Neurologists in NYC and the Surrounding Area?

An experienced, attentive neurologist could be the difference between an early, accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment and delayed diagnosis and lingering symptoms. Don’t let indecision rob you of your livelihood or ability to enjoy life. Make sure your doctor is board certified, qualified in treating accident trauma, and has an established practice and reputation in your area. 

What Should I Ask the Neurologist During Consultation or Assessment?

Your neurologist will need a full and accurate medical history and a description of the circumstances of the accident to decide how best to help. During the initial consultation, have your medical history and a list of medications you are taking.

The injuries you sustained in the car crash could affect your current treatment for other medical conditions, and your current health could affect the neurologist’s interpretation of test results. Tell your doctor if you suffered any other head traumas in the recent past since repeated head trauma could increase your risk for some neurological conditions.

We hope you find these questions helpful if you seek treatment for neurological disorders caused by car accident injuries

Get Treatment Today From Premier Neurologist in NYC

Neuro Injury Care and its founder Dr. Ashwin Malhotra, M.D., are ready to help you understand your neurological health status and develop a treatment plan for any neurological disorders caused by car accident injuries.

Our specialists accept no-fault, PIP, workers’ compensation, and most health insurance plans.

To schedule an appointment with a neurologist in Brooklyn or if you have questions for a neurologist in the Bronx, contact any of the Neuro Injury Care offices in New York City and Long Island, NY. Same-day appointments may be available. Call us at (347) 602-9530.

About The Author

Picture of Ashwin Malhotra, M.D.

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D.

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D. is a highly respected neurologist based in New York City. With over 20 years of experience in the field of neurology, he has earned a reputation as a leading expert in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders and traumatic brain injuries. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Malhotra is also a dedicated educator and researcher. He has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and has presented his research at national and international conferences.