Concussions might not be a matter of immediate concern for many people since they present no visual damage. They should be a significant concern, however, because they can result in major harm and even death. This guide explores the risks associated with concussions so you can be prepared should you or a family member suffer one.
What Is a Concussion?
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a hit to the head, violent shaking, or a sudden jolt to the body that forces the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This movement can cause chemical changes in the brain and, sometimes, stretch and damage brain cells. Concussions are common in sports-related activities, vehicle accidents, falls, and other situations where the head experiences significant impact or sudden acceleration and deceleration.
What Are the Risks of Concussions?
Concussions pose several risks, both immediate and long-term.
Immediate symptoms after this type of personal injury include confusion, dizziness, headache, blurred vision, and nausea. Even if a person doesn’t lose consciousness, these symptoms are indicative of a brain injury and require immediate medical attention.
Second Impact Syndrome
One of the most severe immediate risks associated with concussions is second-impact syndrome. This occurs when a person sustains a second concussion before fully recovering from the initial one. Second-impact syndrome can lead to rapid and often fatal brain swelling. Therefore, it is vital to allow the brain adequate time to heal after a concussion and avoid situations where another head injury could occur.
Concussions can impair cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and problem-solving abilities, affecting an individual’s daily activities, work, and social interactions. This is especially damaging for young children. Concussions or repetitive head blows to a child under the age of 12 more than doubles the risk of that child developing neurological problems such as depression, among other things.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Concussions?
The long-term effects of concussions can be debilitating. Individuals who have experienced multiple concussions might suffer from the following:
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)
CTE is a degenerative brain disease associated with repetitive head trauma, including concussions. It can cause symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, and, eventually, progressive dementia. CTE has been widely reported in athletes, particularly those who participate in contact sports like football, boxing, and soccer.
Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS)
Some individuals experience prolonged symptoms after a concussion, known as post-concussion syndrome. These symptoms can include persistent headaches, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating. Post-concussion syndrome can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, making it essential to monitor symptoms carefully and seek appropriate medical care.
Mental Health Issues
Concussions have been linked to an increased risk of developing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. The changes in brain chemistry and structure caused by concussions can contribute to mood disturbances, affecting both an individual’s emotional well-being and their interpersonal relationships.
Impaired Physical Ability
Depending on the severity and frequency of concussions, individuals may experience persistent issues with balance, coordination, and motor skills. These impairments can limit their ability to participate in physical activities, affecting their overall fitness and lifestyle.
Impaired Academic and Occupational Functioning
In the case of students, concussions can lead to academic difficulties due to memory problems, decreased attention span, and cognitive impairment. Similarly, in the workplace, concussions can impair an individual’s ability to perform job-related tasks, affecting their productivity and job security.
What Are the Symptoms of a Concussion?
Concussions, being complex injuries, manifest a wide array of symptoms that can vary in intensity and duration. It’s crucial to recognize these symptoms promptly, as they indicate a disturbance in brain function, even if the injury seems minor. Understanding how a concussion may manifest is a significant factor in seeking immediate medical attention and obtaining proper care. Here’s a detailed look at the symptoms of a concussion:
Headache. One of the most common symptoms is a persistent headache that can range from mild to severe. This headache often develops or intensifies shortly after the injury.
Confusion and Disorientation. Concussed individuals frequently feel confused and disoriented and have difficulty concentrating or maintaining focus. They might struggle to recall events leading up to or following the injury.
Dizziness and Balance Issues. Many concussion sufferers experience dizziness and problems with balance. They might find it challenging to walk steadily or feel like the surroundings are spinning.
Nausea and Vomiting. Concussions can cause nausea, sometimes leading to vomiting. These symptoms can persist immediately after the injury or develop shortly afterward.
Sensitivity to Light and Noise. Individuals with concussions often become hypersensitive to light and noise. Exposure to bright lights or loud sounds can intensify their headache and discomfort.
Blurred or Double Vision. Vision disturbances are common, with affected individuals experiencing blurred or double vision. This symptom can interfere with their ability to read, watch TV, or use electronic devices.
Memory Problems. Concussions can cause short-term memory loss. Affected individuals might have difficulty remembering events leading to the injury, what happened immediately after, or even events from the same day.
Sleep Disturbances. Concussions can disrupt sleep patterns. Some individuals might find it challenging to fall asleep, while others may sleep excessively, finding it hard to stay awake during the day.
Mood Changes. Concussions can lead to mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and even feelings of sadness or depression. These emotional changes often result from the disruption of brain function.
Fatigue. Many individuals with concussions experience profound fatigue, even after sufficient rest. This can affect their energy levels and overall motivation to engage in daily activities.
Slurred Speech. Concussions can impact speech patterns, causing slurred or slowed speech. This symptom is indicative of impaired brain function.
Loss of Consciousness. While not always present, loss of consciousness can occur immediately after the injury. However, it’s important to note that loss of consciousness is not necessary for a concussion to be diagnosed.
Seizures. In rare cases, concussions can trigger seizures, which are sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbances in the brain. Seizures require immediate medical attention.
What Is the Treatment for a Concussion?
The primary treatment for a concussion is to rest, both physically and mentally. This means refraining from physical activities, especially those that could lead to another head injury, and avoiding mentally taxing tasks such as excessive screen time. Adequate sleep, hydration, and a balanced diet also support the healing process. In severe cases, medical professionals might prescribe pain relievers for headaches and recommend therapy to manage symptoms like anxiety or depression. Close monitoring and follow-ups are essential to ensure full recovery.
Get Compensation for a Concussion
Unfortunately, some people suffer concussions because of the negligence of a third party. If this is your case, you can get compensation for the damages you received. With a trusted law firm by your side, you can file a claim and negotiate with insurance companies to get the maximum amount possible. Morris & Dewett has experience handling this type of case and can help you through the process.
Concussion.org. The Real Risk of Concussions.
American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. Second Impact Syndrome.
Concussion Legacy Foundation. What Is CTE?
Concussion Legacy Foundation. What Is PCS?
American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Concussion.