Concussion Injury

If you suffer a strong enough blow to your head in an accident, you may get a concussion. While concussions are generally considered to be minor forms of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), they can still cause significant problems. 

With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about concussions, including how to tell if you have one and what to expect as you heal.

What Causes a Concussion?

In simple terms, your skull acts like a protective case for your brain. In most situations, it does a good job of protecting the brain from external blows. However, if your head is hit hard enough, your brain can slam against the inside of your skull. This can also happen if your brain accelerates quickly, as it would in a high-speed car crash.

When the resulting impact is severe, brain cells can die, and the affected area of your brain can also become inflamed. That inflammation can interfere with the signals your brain is constantly sending. As a result, you might have trouble with memory and performing basic tasks.

These are some of the most common causes of concussions seen in emergency rooms:

  • Car accidents (especially those involving rapid acceleration or deceleration)
  • Falls
  • Physical assault
  • Being struck by an object or obstacle (like a heavy object falling from a shelf)
  • Contact sports

Most concussions don’t cause unconsciousness. If you are knocked unconscious in the event that leads to your concussion, it will only be for a very short time.

How Do You Know If You Have a Concussion?

Not every blow to the head will cause a concussion or be cause for an ER visit, of course. Simply bumping your head very lightly may hurt for a moment, but you shouldn’t suffer any concussion symptoms from it. With that in mind, if you do suffer a concussion, you’ll usually know it. 

If you notice any of the following signs, you should be seen by a medical professional as soon as possible:

  • Nausea and vomiting, especially if you vomit repeatedly
  • A headache that won’t go away, gets worse, or both
  • Slurring speech
  • Decreasing coordination
  • Numbness or weakness in any part of the body

Often, when you suffer a concussion, you will have trouble thinking clearly. In fact, you might feel so dazed that you don’t notice more dangerous symptoms. 

As such, if people around you see any of these signs after you take a blow to the head, they should get you medical help immediately:

  • Loss of consciousness (even if very briefly)
  • Appearing very drowsy
  • Falling asleep and can’t be woken up
  • One of your pupils is bigger than the other
  • Different or erratic behavior
  • A steady increase in confusion
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Inability to recognize familiar people and places

There’s always a chance of serious complications, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. When you are displaying clear signs of a concussion, emergency medical care is vital.

The Common Long-Term Symptoms of a Concussion 

If you have a mild concussion, you will likely recover within days. Most concussions won’t cause serious, long-term effects, either. But in rare cases, concussion victims can suffer fatal blood clots. In the case of a serious concussion, recovery can take weeks, even months. 

Long-term symptoms of concussions can be more complex than many people think. They often cause physical and emotional issues,  trouble with thinking and memory retention, as well as sleep disturbances. 

Some of the physical symptoms you might notice with a concussion are as follows:

  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Headaches
  • Problems with balance
  • Vomiting or nausea (though these usually only happen soon after a concussion)
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling fatigued
  • Fuzzy/blurry vision

After a concussion, you also might notice your emotions are more volatile than usual. 

You might notice these symptoms:

  • Feeling much more emotional than you usually do
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Sadness

Problems with thinking and memory after a concussion often aren’t as severe as those you’d get after a more severe traumatic injury. 

Still, you might deal with fairly significant cognitive problems, such as:

  • Feeling mentally slowed down
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • Issues with concentration
  • Difficulty remembering new information

Lastly, you also might have issues with sleep in the days, weeks, or months after a concussion. These symptoms can look different for different people. Some people have trouble falling asleep, some sleep more than usual, and some sleep less than normal.

Because these symptoms can appear gradually, many people with concussions may not spot them at first. That, or they might think they’re related to something else entirely. Similarly, even if you’re struggling with serious symptoms, you might appear normal from the outside.

Healing from a Concussion

After a concussion, your brain needs plenty of rest to heal. That doesn’t just mean physical rest, though. You should try to avoid activities that require deep thinking or focus. Even reading and texting should generally be avoided.

How long you need to let your brain rest depends on the severity of your concussion. Always listen to your doctor’s directions. If you push yourself to do more than your brain is ready for, you run the risk of causing more issues.

The good news is that as you rest, your physical, emotional, cognitive, and sleep issues should all start to improve. Your doctor should be able to give you a general recovery timeline.

Why Should You Avoid Getting a Second Concussion?

If you play a contact sport, you might already know that it’s best to wait for an existing concussion to heal before you get back to playing. But not everyone knows just how critical that is. 

If you get a second head injury before the first heals, you might develop what’s known as second impact syndrome (SLS). And with SLS, your brain rapidly swells from the additional trauma. And even if you’re young and healthy, you can still die very quickly from such swelling. 

While you’re healing from a concussion, always follow your doctor’s orders and do your best to avoid a second impact. If you do suffer a second impact, getting to an emergency room right away might save your life.

Have You Suffered a Concussion Because Someone Was Negligent?

Getting a concussion doesn’t automatically mean you have a personal injury case. But if someone else’s negligence caused your injury, an attorney might be able to help you recover damages. For example, if a distracted driver crosses into oncoming traffic, hits your car, and you get a concussion, you might have a legal case.

If you’ve suffered a concussion because of someone else, you shouldn’t have to pay medical bills or absorb the cost of lost wages on your own. Contact Parker Law Firm Injury Lawyers or stop by our Fort Worth office to set up a free consultation at (817) 839-3143 to discuss your options.