A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. It will most likely occur from a direct or indirect blow to the head, face, jaw, or at the junction of the skull and neck. Stated otherwise, a concussion is caused by either a direct blow to the head or to another body region resulting in an abrupt acceleration or deceleration of the head and neck.1
Despite the safeguards that surround it, the skull, the supportive tissue, the membranes, and the fluid, the brain is essentially “floating” within your head, and can be easily injured by an impact causing abrupt acceleration or deceleration. When your head hits something, the ground for instance, it stops abruptly, but your brain keeps moving and strikes the inside of your skull. The force of the impact is transferred from your skull to the brain. The soft brain hits the inside of your skull. That impact can lead to injury.2
Signs and Symptoms and Long-Term Effects
Symptoms of a concussion vary as every individual experiences a brain injury differently. Symptoms most commonly include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Confusion or disorientation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling daze or “seeing stars”
- Poor balance or coordination
- Fuzzy or blurry vision
- Slow or slurred speech
- Sensitively to light or noise
- Delayed responses
- Ringing in the ears
- Changes in personality, behaviour, emotions
- Tiredness, sleep, insomnia, excessive sleep
You can sustain a concussion without a skull fracture and, in 90% of concussions, a person does not lose consciousness. However, following trauma, the soft gelatinous brain may undergo changes in function, could start bleeding, suffer neuron damage, or swell. As a result, concussions carry the risk of permanent neurologic dysfunction, such as sustained memory loss, loss of concentration, or prolonged headaches. Multiple or repetitive concussions compound the risk of permanent dysfunction.3
Research has shown that initial problems with memory, headaches and dizziness, amongst other symptoms, can clear up after a few weeks. But months later, doctors are still able to see differences in the way fluid moves through the brain, suggesting the brain is still healing. The study likens concussions to burns, where symptoms, like pain, can disappear long before the burned tissue has recovered.4
Prevention and Treatment
If you suspect you have suffered a head injury, seek medical attention. Aside from prevention, early intervention is the most powerful treatment for a concussion.
Wearing a helmet is an effective way of preventing fractures and lacerations, and also assists in absorbing some of the force from a traumatic impact. It is important to note, however, that although helmets help, they do not render the wearer immune to a traumatic brain injury, as the force of the impact can still be transferred from the helmet to the brain.
It is crucial that a diagnosis of concussion be made at an early stage. Both time and frequency are critical components of prognosis in cases of brain injury. The earlier a brain injury is diagnosed, the sooner the injured person can rest, seek clinical exams, therapy, and the better the prognosis for restoring cognition, thinking and brain power.5
Personal Injury Claims
Often in the immediate aftermath of a personal injury, especially in incidents involving severe musculoskeletal injuries, such as broken bones, a traumatic brain injury is overlooked during initial treatment and diagnosis. Musculoskeletal injuries are easy to see, easy to point out, on an x-ray or MRI, while a brain injury needs specific tests, and the assistance of the injured person, to help describe what they are experiencing and how they have been affected.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of a concussion, and appreciating the risks, as well as the serious potential long-term effects, is crucial for advancing a complete and comprehensive case for compensation in a claim for personal injury.
If you have any questions regarding an injury, an injury involving a concussion, or would like more information about your legal rights, please contact Maciek Piekosz via email at [email protected] or call 519-660-7718 for a free consultation.
1 Marshall, C.M., “Sports-related concussion: A narrative review of the literature” (JCCA 2012; 56(4):299-310)
2 Howard J. Bennet “Ever wondered what a concussion is?” The Washington Post, September 6, 2013.
3 Anand Veeravagu “The invisible plague of concussion” BBC, September 5, 2013
4 James Gallagher “Concussion damage ‘lasts months’” BBC, November 20, 2013
5 Anand Veeravagu “The invisible plague of concussion” BBC, September 5, 2013