Doctors refer to concussions as a widespread, but mild brain injury. The mild characterization comes from the fact that concussions rarely cause death. It does not refer to the severity of the symptoms you feel, which can impact your quality of life.
A concussion injury can produce symptoms that affect your physical, cognitive, and emotional health. As a result, your concussion could prevent you from engaging in your normal daily activities and work schedule for weeks or months after your accident.
Here are some facts to understand about a concussion injury and the types of concussion injury compensation you may be able to seek.
How a Concussion Injury Happens
Your brain sits inside your skull. But since your skull is hard, your brain floats in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The CSF forms a cushion between your brain and the inside of your skull.
The CSF also has a viscosity that is slightly thicker than water. This slows the motion of your brain when you move your head. After a minor fall or bump on the head, your brain moves very slowly in your head as the CSF resists the brain’s movement.
But when you suffer a severe impact, the brain’s movement creates a pressure wave in the CSF. This wave presses back on the brain. The pressure damages and destroys brain cells.
The pressure wave can also cause minor bleeding as small blood vessels burst. The bleeding further damages brain cells by increasing the pressure on the brain and depriving brain cells of oxygen.
After your brain sustains this kind of pressure-induced damage, the body rushes fluid, immune cells, and repair cells to your brain. The brain swells and becomes inflamed. The swelling and inflammation cause chemical changes in your brain that affect its function.
Importantly, you do not need to hit your head to suffer a concussion injury. When your body accelerates, the CSF accelerates your brain. When you suddenly decelerate, the CSF resists the deceleration and compresses your brain.
Risk Factors for a Concussion Injury
The acceleration and deceleration that can lead to a concussion can happen in many types of accidents, including:
When your car crashes, your body wants to keep moving at the same speed as it was going before the car accident. Your body hits the seat belt or seat, depending on the direction of the collision. This impact stops your body, but your brain keeps moving.
The CSF slows the brain, just as your seat belt or seat slows your body. But the pressure on your brain from sloshing inside the CSF damages the brain.
Motorcycle accidents cause a lot of brain injuries. Unlike a motorist, motorcyclists lack protection during a collision. The motorcyclist will likely get ejected from the motorcycle and land hard on the pavement.
The risk of head injury in a motorcycle increases if you do not wear a helmet. In one study, unhelmeted riders had a 30% higher chance of suffering a concussion injury than helmeted riders.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents
Whether you fall from an elevation or slip and fall on a level surface, falls can cause brain injuries. The impact with the ground causes rapid deceleration that can create a pressure wave in the CSF, even if you do not hit your head.
Explosions can cause a blast wave that compresses the brain. While blast-related concussions are most commonly seen in combat, they can happen in any explosion.
Workplace accidents involving explosions during mining, oil and gas extraction, and demolition can lead to concussions.
Symptoms of a Concussion Injury
Concussions do not necessarily produce immediate symptoms. After a brain injury, your brain will continue to swell and become inflamed for a few days. Your symptoms might worsen or new symptoms might appear hours or days after your accident.
Concussions can produce a range of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms including:
- Dizziness or nausea
- Slurred speech
- Seeing stars or blurred vision
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Loss of balance
- Emotional outbursts
Doctors have few treatments for concussion symptoms. With rest, concussion symptoms usually clear up in six to eight weeks.
If the symptoms last more than two months, you might have post-concussion syndrome (PCS). Doctors do not know what causes PCS. However, research suggests that patients with post-traumatic stress disorder from their accidents have a higher likelihood of developing PCS.
Rating the Severity of a Concussion Injury
Doctors use many rating scales to determine the severity of a concussion. One commonly used scale is the Glasgow Coma Scale. This scale uses three observations to determine the severity of a concussion.
If you open your eyes spontaneously after your injury, you have a mild concussion. If you only open your eyes in response to stimulus, you have a moderate concussion. If you lose consciousness, even briefly, you have a severe concussion.
If you can move your limbs on command, you have a mild concussion. If you only move in response to pain, you have a moderate concussion. If you have trouble moving or cannot move after your injury, you have a severe concussion.
If you can answer questions, even if your answers are confused, you have a mild concussion. If you give incoherent responses, you have a moderate concussion. If you cannot form words, you have a severe concussion.
How Your Concussion Symptoms Affect an Injury Claim
You can seek compensation for a concussion injury caused by someone else’s negligence. Your compensation should cover your economic and non-economic losses.
In most situations, you will not have ongoing medical bills for a concussion. Most concussion symptoms go away on their own with rest.
But you could lose substantial income from missing work. Your injury might interfere with your ability to work and your doctor might prescribe rest for at least a few days after your injury.
A concussion can also reduce your quality of life. Your symptoms could prevent you from driving, exercising, and engaging in hobbies.
A concussion injury can disrupt your ability to work and participate in daily activities. As a result, you could be entitled to substantial compensation for the effects of your concussion.
To learn more about the compensation you may be able to pursue for your concussion injury, contact a personal injury lawyer near you.