Head injuries have been a hot topic. The NHL and NFL have placed increased attention on concussions, head injuries, and the long term effects of these injuries. While sports like hockey and football provide ample opportunity for a person to suffer a traumatic head injury, car accidents are a leading cause of concussions. Concussions have a variety of symptoms and varying levels of severity. Although it may just seem like you have been bumped on the head, concussions have long term effects that may not become immediately apparent. Sometimes, it takes weeks and months for the effects of a head injury to fully set in.
Despite much of the attention being on head injuries in contact sports, car accidents are actually the leading cause of head injuries. Approximately 28% of traumatic brain injuries are caused by car accidents.
Concussions from a car accident can happen in a variety of ways. While a direct impact to the head, such as hitting your head on the steering wheel or window, etc., will certainly cause a concussion, concussions also occur just from jarring movement involved with accidents. Commonly referred to as whiplash, the sudden jolting back and forth causes the head and neck to violently snap one way then back the opposite way (similar to the cracking of a whip). This often occurs in car accidents. The whip-like motion causes the brain to slam into the inside of the skull and causes a traumatic brain injury.
Car accidents in which a person is looking to their left, right, or over their shoulder can be the worst even without direct impact to the head. When a person is in a car accident while in one of these positions, the head and neck not only jolt, but also twist causing even more damage to the brain.
While at first, one might be lucky enough to just feel foggy and possibly have a headache, the effects are actually much more severe and tend to go unnoticed.
Some of the more immediate symptoms of a concussion include: headache or a feeling of pressure in the head, temporary loss of consciousness, confusion or feeling as if in a fog, amnesia surrounding the traumatic event, dizziness or “seeing stars,” ringing in the ears, nausea or vomiting, slurred speech, and fatigue.
However, symptoms may not set in immediately and can be delayed by hours, days, or even weeks. The late-onset symptoms include: concentration and memory complaints, irritability and other personality changes, sensitivity to light and noise, sleep disturbances, psychological adjustment problems and depression, and disorders of taste and smell.
All of these symptoms can be caused by even the slightest of car accidents and are extremely important to recognize. An untreated concussion can even lead to coma or death if not treated.
In addition, while symptoms from the initial concussion may only last a few weeks or couple months, people are not necessarily out of the woods. Post-concussion syndrome can burden a person for six months to a year. Symptoms of post-concussion syndrome include: headaches, difficulty concentrating, sensitivity to light, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vision impairment, emotional instability and depression, an inability to tolerate stress or alcohol, and memory problems.
Studies show that somewhere between 30-80% of people who suffer concussions then suffer from post-concussion syndrome.
It is extremely important to seek immediate and continued treatment for even the mildest of concussions. Treatment should not just be limited to an emergency room visit. A person who suffers a concussion should seek out a primary care physician to help guide them through the treatment. Given that symptoms can last for long periods of time, and be extremely debilitating, a person suffering from a concussion or post-concussion syndrome should continue getting treatment to help guide them along the lengthy road to recovery and to prevent lifelong damage.
This is one of the reasons insurance companies try to settle car accident cases extremely quick. If a victim settles the case early, the insurance company is lucky enough to avoid the victim being able to recognize the symptoms of a concussion, mostly the symptoms that set in later and last for a long time. For this reason, if in a car accident, you should resist insurance companies until you understand the full nature of the injuries and seek out treatment for concussion. Settling early, and without knowledge of the road to recovery, can leave victims with expensive medical bills and other expenses caused by the destructive and crippling nature of traumatic brain injuries. Attorneys can help hold off the insurance company and get the right compensation for the victims of concussions and post-concussion syndrome.