One of the newest frontiers in personal injury litigation is the issue of concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). For too long, mTBI’s have been treated as something as minor as an ankle sprain. Over the past few decades, we have learned that concussions are serious brain injuries that can lead to a lifetime of symptoms and complications. This is changing the way insurance companies and juries evaluate concussion injuries in lawsuits. The CDC estimates that as many as 3.8 million concussions occur annually in the United States. This is alarming enough without the data that indicates concussions are vastly underreported to medical providers.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a minor traumatic brain injury (TBI) that can happen during sports, a car crash or from a fall. It usually results in short-term loss of mental function and is the most common but least serious type of brain injury. There is much debate on what is required to be considered a concussion diagnosis but all agreed a blow to the head and some type of interruption of mental function is required. Some insurance companies hire experts that opine that unless someone has amnesia or a long loss of consciousness, they cannot be concussed. Current science, however, does not agree with the insurance company and their army of paid experts.
Physiologically, a concussion can affect any area of the brain. However, research shows that the part of the brain directly hit by the blow or the corresponding opposite side of the brain are most likely to be injured. Concussion symptoms are the most important thing to look for after a head injury. They usually appear within minutes of the injury, although some may not show up for hours, days or even weeks.
What are the signs of a concussion?
A person who has a concussion will likely experience headaches, problems with concentration or memory, changes in mood, and blurred vision. They will sometimes be clumsy and may be unsteady when walking or talking. Signs and symptoms of a concussion also include headache, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, disorientation, and memory problems. However, there are dozens of symptoms associated with concussion so there is no bright line. A person should seek medical attention if any of these symptoms worsen or last longer than 2 to 3 weeks after a head injury.
What causes a concussion?
A blow to the head or violent shaking of the head can cause a concussion. They can also be caused by falls, car or motorcycle accidents, and sports injuries. The most common causes of a concussion are falls, car or motorcycle accidents, sports injuries, blows to the had, and rapid back-and-forth forces to the head such as the motion of the head in a rear end collision. Young children and adolescents are more susceptible to a concussion than adults, due to the fact that their brains are still developing.
What to do after a concussion?
Rest is the key to a quick and complete recovery from a concussion. Those with mTBI’s should limit physical activities, such as playing sports or participating in contact-sports, and activities that require mental concentration, such as studying or using the computer. To determine how well you will recover, you must do all you can to recover.
What happens after a concussion?
Most people make a full recovery from a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury, but some may have symptoms that linger. These symptoms can be difficult to spot, and they can last for weeks or even months after the injury has healed. This is why it is important to try to rest after a concussion to allow your brain time to heal.
When you resume activities, start with a small amount and increase your involvement in a step-by-step manner until you can safely return to your normal activity level. If you return too soon, you could make the symptoms of your concussion worse or even cause a second impact syndrome that can result in long-term disabilities and death.
Returning to activity too soon after a concussion increases your risk of having a second impact syndrome, which makes the first concussion symptoms last longer than they should have. This can lead to permanent damage, or even death.
Post Concussive Syndrome
While most people recover from concussions, a percentage will go on to develop what has been deemed “post-concussive syndrome.” Post concussive syndrome is the name given to a group of symptoms that can develop after mild traumatic brain injury (concussion). These include headache, dizziness, fatigue, problems with concentration and memory, and trouble sleeping. These symptoms can last weeks or months after a concussion. For some unlucky people, the syndrome can be lifelong.
Symptoms of post concussive syndrome typically occur within the first 7 days after the injury and usually subside in about three months. Occasionally, these symptoms can last for a year or more.
Prognosis of post concussive syndrome
Typically, a person who has persistent post concussive symptoms will be referred to a multidisciplinary rehabilitation team. These teams may be made up of professionals from neurology, psychology, psychiatry, occupational therapy, and neurocognitive therapy backgrounds. When these therapies are combined, they can improve the individual symptoms as well as reduce the overall burden on a patient’s life. Patients may also be able to regain their former level of functioning.
Studies have found that many of the symptoms of PCS are a result of dysfunctional neurovascular coupling, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, vestibular dysfunction and vision problems after a concussion. Knowing when and how these issues are causing symptoms is a key to developing an effective treatment plan for PCS.
The science on concussions and post-concussive syndrome is developing by the day. That is why it is important that if you have an injury lawsuit that involves a mild traumatic brain injury you hire a law firm that has experience handling them. To be sure, the insurance industry has an army of neurologists, neuroradiologists, neuropsychologists, and others who will try to convince a jury that they should listen to the literature from the last century when concussions were considered minor. Now we know, and the insurance industry does too, that concussions are serious and sometimes life altering injuries.
The brain injury lawyers at Hill Law Firm have been handling brain injury cases for many years. They have the background, experience, and understanding to make sure that you are not alone in your fight to make sure a jury understands how your brain injury has affected your life. To get a free consultation, call today.