We hear a lot about people sustaining concussions on football or soccer fields. But concussions and other traumatic brain injuries happen right here in Connecticut on playgrounds, at work, on highways and elsewhere all the time. Sometimes one accident during an everyday event can cause a brain injury that changes the course of someone’s life.
Some TBIs are obvious medical emergencies with immediate symptoms. Concussions are not always so obvious. Contrary to popular belief, one does not have to be knocked unconscious to suffer a concussion.
If you have suffered a concussion due to the negligence of another party, you have a legal right to seek justice. To do so, you will want an attorney on your side who is knowledgeable in the causes and mechanics of brain injury.
What Is a Concussion?
A concussion is a type of TBI that causes temporary loss of normal brain functions. Concussions are external, resulting from blunt force to the head. The World Health Organization defines a concussion as an intracranial injury without skull fracture.
A concussion may occur with or without loss of consciousness. In the medical field, concussions are considered a mild brain injury. Yet, concussions may have damaging, long-term effects.
Falls, fights, playing sports, and being hit by a foreign object or involved in a motor vehicle crash can cause concussions. It’s interesting to note that although sports injury is the most well-known way concussions happen, car accidents account for more concussions among young adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, traffic accidents account for 17.3% of all traumatic brain injuries and have the highest rate of death for those between 20-24 years of age.
Suffering from one concussion makes it more likely you’ll experience another one in the future. This is one of the contributing factors in the development of chronic encephalopathy (CTE) in professional athletes who endure constant violent contact in their sport.
Signs You Have a Concussion
Because the brain is your body’s mission control center, concussions have emotional, physical and cognitive symptoms. They can also affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep, or make you sleep more than usual. Other symptoms include:
- blurred vision
- nausea or vomiting
- sensitivity to light and noise
- difficulty concentrating
- anxiety and nervousness
- feeling slower than usual
When concussions occur in car accidents, it may be difficult to distinguish the nervous anxiety stemming from the accident itself versus the actual brain injury. This is one of the many reasons you should always seek medical attention immediately after a car accident. Paramedics and doctors are trained to recognize concussion symptoms, and treatment records can better support your injury claim.
Concussion classification falls under the umbrella of TBI classification. Unfortunately, there is not one definite consensus in the medical community, and as a result, 16 such systems are used by various sports and internal medicine groups.
The Colorado Medical Society’s guidelines are the most widely used, and presented here. They were created with the intention of being able to gauge when an injured athlete can return to the game.
Also known as a mild concussion, grade 1 severity typically resolves within 15 minutes. Its main symptom is confusion. A secondary grade 1 concussion may occur within one week of the first concussion, with the same symptoms.
A concussion this severe includes symptoms of confusion and momentary amnesia. These symptoms can last several days, but usually resolve themselves in 2 weeks. An athlete with a grade 2 concussion would not be allowed to return to play for at least 2 weeks. If sustained in a car accident, a grade 2 concussion would most likely require time off from work.
Loss of consciousness is the defining symptom in grade 3 concussions, but symptoms also include confusion and post-traumatic amnesia. General lethargy, blurred vision and vomiting are common with this level of severity. Grade 3 concussions take longer to recover from, which can negatively impact your ability to go to school or work.
Concussion Treatment and Recovery
Immediate medical treatment is vital to properly treat a concussion. It important to monitor the person who has a concussion for the first 24 hours after the incident. Concussion symptoms can change in a few hours.
Rest is the best treatment, even after symptoms have subsided. Not only resting the body, but resting the mind as well. This means reading the last chapter of your favorite book probably isn’t the best idea after receiving a concussion.
If your symptoms continue or get worse, contact your healthcare provider right away. It’s imperative that you not perform strenuous activities, or any activity that might put you at risk for another concussion until you have clearance from your doctor.
The time it takes to fully recover from a concussion depends largely on the severity level. The best medicine is rest, for both the body and mind.
Short-Term Concussion Effects
The symptoms mentioned above – fatigue, dizziness, memory loss, and confusion – should have a duration of a few minutes to a few weeks. If concussion symptoms last longer or become worse, see a doctor immediately.
Once concussion symptoms like headaches, dizziness and fatigue last more than a few weeks, you’re headed into post-concussion syndrome territory. This ailment can last a few months or even years. Other symptoms of post-concussion syndrome include:
- memory loss
- light and noise sensitivity
- cognitive impairment
Second Impact Syndrome
While rare, second impact syndrome (SIS) occurs when a person already suffering from a mild TBI or concussion sustains a second head injury. Diffuse swelling, bleeding in the brain, and even death may occur. Young, otherwise healthy patients have been known to die within minutes of an SIS trauma. This is the main reason why it is critical to be fully recovered from a concussion before engaging in activities that put you at risk for another.
How an Attorney Can Help
The emotional, physical and financial costs associated with any level of TBI and subsequent recovery can be phenomenal. Insurance companies will often downplay the extent of your injury to try to justify giving you less than you deserve. To seek the fullest possible compensation, you may need the help of an attorney.
A personal injury attorney may be able to secure compensation to cover:
- hospital stays
- past and ongoing treatment and rehabilitation
- wages you lost because you were unable to work
- future wages you will not receive because you are unable to work
- emotional pain and suffering
All consultations are free and without obligation.