Time is always of the essence when dealing with any type of Traumatic Brain Injury, and no blow to the head should ever be left untreated simply because the victim isn’t actively experiencing a “headache”. Concussions are silent killers, and any blow to the head whether on the football field or from a car accident, requires transport to the hospital as soon as possible.
As mentioned, whether a concussion injury occurs while playing a full contact sport such as football or is sustained in an accident such as a car or motorcycle collision, the severity of this type of injury is not one that can be ignored or put off due to lack of physical, visible symptoms. People often don’t associate concussions with Traumatic Brain Injuries, however, that is exactly what they are and they must be treated with just as much care and just as quickly. When a person is suspected to have suffered a concussion after an accident, they must be immediately evaluated by medical professionals on the scene, and a determination will be made whether or not it’s necessary to transport them to the hospital. Most times, a victim is transported for their own safety.
It’s important to remember that not every head injury is visible, and thorough imaging must be performed to rule out severe and life threatening complications after a blow to the head. This article will seek to explain that, and what, exactly, a concussion is. We’ll also delve into how this type of injury must be treated. We will also briefly explore several other types of traumatic brain injuries and what they mean for accident victims.
Concussions and their causes
The CDC defines a concussion as follows:
“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, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.”
Now that we have a clearly defined picture of a concussion, let’s look at the specific accidents known to cause these life-threatening injuries:
- Contact sports in which helmets are not worn or properly secured
- Motorcycle accidents
- Motor vehicle accidents in which the head moves rapidly back and forth; these accidents can also cause whiplash and spinal cord injuries
- Hit-and-run accidents in which a pedestrian is struck
The ticking clock on concussions
When it comes to assessing and treating head injuries of any kind–time is of the essence. Traumatic Brain Injuries such as concussions are some of the most time sensitive injuries that paramedics attend to in the field. These injuries can cause lifelong, permanent injury in the best case scenarios, but if left untreated, can ultimately be fatal.
Concussions sustained from car accidents and contact sports such as football are two of the most prominent those involved tend to sustain. Any blow to the head, no matter the severity, can cause a concussion. That’s why it’s so important not to forget that minor injuries such as falls while children are roughhousing to the more severe injuries caused by being struck by a vehicle, and motorcycle collisions can all be equal culprits in this oft-silent and invisible epidemic.
Everyone is susceptible to concussions after a head injury
Concussions affect people of all ages, but can be especially detrimental to children, whose brains are still growing. If not treated in a timely manner and by a doctor (because let’s face it, moms and dads may be rightfully concerned, but are not medical professionals able to diagnose a life threatening complication). Concussions can become severe quickly, and even result in fatalities if left untreated. In certain cases, victims have died from declining treatment at the onset of the injury. It’s never wise to “wait it out” just because the victim isn’t complaining of severe (or any) pain. Concussions are a silent but extreme threat and must be treated as quickly as possible.
In recent years, the scary reality of fatalities from concussions has come to light more prominently. The unfortunate timing of seeking medical care tragically took the life of award winning actress Natasha Richardson, who declined immediate treatment for a fall during a ski trip, as she didn’t “have a headache” and could not have been expected to know better, as most people without visible or painful physical symptoms do not believe they need to see a doctor.
Concussions DO have physical symptoms!
In order to better understand the silent nature of concussion and other head injuries similar to them, let’s look at the signs and symptoms that may be missed after a fall or blow to the head (say, on the football field or due to a reckless driver). Concussions may seem like invisible injuries, but knowing what to look for can actually save a life.
The physical symptoms of concussion that a victim may complain of hours or even days after a blow to the head:
- Balance problems
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Blurry vision
The mental symptoms of concussion that those caring for an injured victim must be aware to look for:
- Memory problems
- Difficulty with concentration
- Loss of focus
There are also less obvious symptoms such as sleep disturbances (more or less sleeping or inability to fall asleep) and changes in mood or behavior that those around an injured victim may not markedly associate with a possible concussion. However, combined with a blow to the head, these symptoms must be taken seriously.
Quick tip: it’s a well known fact that making sure a victim who may have suffered a concussion stays awake until a doctor has given the “all clear” to allow them to sleep or nap; sleeping can put a concussed victim into a comatose state, which is also extremely life-threatening.
What happens after a concussion?
After a concussion sustained in an accident it’s important to seek legal advice. A lawyer with experience in Traumatic Brain Injury will know the next steps to take when pursuing those who caused their client bodily harm. Each Traumatic Brain Injury case is unique, and depends on how the injury was sustained and whether the Statute of Limitations will allow the case to be tried in court, or pursued by another legal route to recover compensation. Only a lawyer with experience in TBI, and who has seen a TBI trial to verdict, should take point as the Senior Lawyer on this type of case.
The legal recourse on concussions
It’s important that someone close to the victim documents exactly what occurred, the time and date, who caused the accident, and the symptoms the victim suffered immediately after and for a prolonged period after the accident. Concussion may cause temporary, partial, or permanent memory loss pertaining to the accident that caused it. Concussions are longterm injuries that have lasting effects. Victims must be compensated accordingly for these life-threatening injuries.