According to the CDC, a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain. Even the most minor motor vehicle accident can cause this sudden brain movement and damage. Medical providers may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life-threatening. Even so, the effects of a concussion can be serious.
Signs and symptoms generally show up soon after the injury. However, you may not know how serious the injury is at first and some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. For example, in the first few minutes, you might be a little confused or a bit dazed, but a couple hours later you might not be able to remember how you got hurt. Most medical providers recommend that you should continue to check for signs of concussion for a few days after the injury. If your concussion signs or symptoms get worse, you should consult with a physician or go to the emergency department right away.
The following is a list of concussion signs and symptoms to watch for if your loved one is involved in a motor vehicle accident:
- Can’t recall events prior to or after a motor vehicle accident
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of what to do
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Loses consciousness (even briefly)
- Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
- Headache or “pressure” in head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems
- Double or blurry vision
- Bothered by light or noise
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
- Confusion, or concentration or memory problems
- Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”
A person with a severe brain injury will need to be hospitalized and may have long-term problems affecting things such as:
- Coordination and balance
- Speech, hearing or vision
Rest is very important after a concussion because it helps the brain heal. You may need to limit activities while recovering from a concussion and you should talk to your doctor about whether you should return to work. If not, be sure to have your doctor give you something in writing excusing you from work or the insurance company will deny that you should have missed it.
Physical activities or activities that involve a lot of concentration, such as studying, working on the computer, or reading may cause concussion symptoms (such as headache or tiredness) to come back or get worse. After a concussion, physical and cognitive activities—such as concentration and learning—should be carefully watched by a medical provider.
Many injury victims have concussion symptoms that last weeks to months after the injury, their medical provider may talk to you about post-concussive syndrome. Post-concussive syndrome is believed to occur most commonly in patients with a history of multiple concussions.
Here are some more things you should keep in mind about brain injuries:
- There are many people who can help you and your family as you recover. You do not have to do it alone. Keep talking with your medical provider, family members, and loved ones about how you are feeling. If you do not think your loved one is getting better, tell your medical provider.
- While many people with a concussion feel better within a couple of months, some will have symptoms for much longer. Talk with your health care provider if concussion symptoms do not go away or if they get worse after they return to your regular activities.
- A severe brain injury can affect all aspects of people’s lives, including relationships with family and friends, as well as their ability to work or be employed, do household chores, drive, and/or do other normal daily activities.
If you’ve suffered a concussion or brain injury in an accident, be sure to talk to your attorney about the problems you have experienced. The law entitles injury victims to compensation for all aspects of these types of injuries.
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