A concussion can happen even if you do not experience head trauma. Getting jostled in a car accident can shake your brain enough to damage the tissue and cause a concussion.
Most concussion injuries only last a few months. But during that time, you could experience physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms that interfere with your ability to work and participate in activities you enjoy. And occasionally, your symptoms might linger for months or even years after your injury.
Read on to learn about the causes and symptoms of a concussion injury, as well as the compensation you can seek for a concussion.
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What is the Structure of Your Head?
Your brain controls your nervous system. It sends out motor signals to control the voluntary movements of your muscles. It also transmits signals to keep involuntary systems performing functions like breathing, digesting, and pumping blood.
Your brain also handles all of your emotions, thoughts, and memories. Doctors do not know exactly how this happens, but your brain forms connections between cells as you learn and have experiences. These connections get reactivated when you recognize a situation or experience a rational or emotional reaction to something.
Your skull protects your brain. When you suffer head trauma, your skull acts like a helmet preventing the impact from reaching your brain.
In addition to your skull, you also have a layer of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) surrounding your brain. The CSF acts as a cushion to dissipate forces that hit your head to prevent them from damaging your brain.
The CSF also slows the motion of your brain so that it doesn’t strike the inside of your skull. The CSF has a viscosity slightly thicker than water. When your head moves, the CSF slowly moves your brain and brings it to a stop.
What Causes a Concussion Injury?
Concussions happen when your brain sloshes in the CSF. More specifically, concussions happen when pressure from the CSF on the brain injures brain cells.
Pressure on the CSF can come from many sources, including:
When you bump your head, your brain slides toward the point of impact. The CSF pushes back on the brain to stop it from hitting the inside of your skull. Pressure by the CSF on your brain stops it from slamming into your skull but can damage brain cells.
Suppose that you fall backward after a slip and fall accident and hit your head on the ground. As your brain falls downward inside your skull, the CSF pushes up to slow its descent.
In many cases, your brain will not hit the inside of your skull and develop a dangerous injury called a contusion. Instead, pressure from the CSF will cause a much milder concussion injury.
Rapid Acceleration or Deceleration
You do not need to hit your head to suffer a concussion injury. If your head rapidly decelerates or accelerates, the CSF pushes your brain to keep it away from your skull. When this happens, the pressure can cause a widespread but mild brain injury.
These types of concussions can happen in traffic accidents. When your car collides with something, your seat belt stops your body. But your brain keeps moving until pressure from the CSF stops it. This pressure can damage brain cells.
Explosions create a pressure wave. This pressure wave can pressurize the CSF and squeeze the brain when it hits you.
These types of injuries can happen to anyone who works around explosions, including combat veterans, miners, oil and gas workers, and demolition workers. They can also happen to anyone in a workplace accident involving explosives, gas lines, or other blasting equipment.
What Are the Symptoms of a Concussion Injury?
Damage to your brain cells triggers inflammation in your brain. Your body triggers inflammation to protect you from infections. Swelling reduces circulation and traps any invading microorganisms. Increased temperature kills the trapped microbes.
As your brain swells and increases in temperature, normal brain cells suffer reduced function. The swelling reduces the flow of blood to the injured brain cells. And increased temperature can cause brain cells to misfire.
Concussions can trigger a range of physical and sensory symptoms, including:
- Dizziness and nausea
- Slurred speech
- Ringing ears
- Blurry vision
You might also experience cognitive symptoms such as:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty understanding language
Concussions can also cause emotional symptoms, including:
- Emotional outbursts
The swelling in your brain will continue for hours or even days after the initial accident. As the brain continues to swell, new symptoms may emerge, or existing symptoms might worsen.
How Long Does it Take to Recover from a Concussion Injury?
Concussion symptoms usually clear up within two months after the injury. The swelling will subside, and your brain will regain the functions it lost.
Occasionally, symptoms will last longer than two months. Patients with post-concussion syndrome (PCS) experience concussion symptoms that linger for months or years.
While doctors do not know what causes PCS, they believe PCS relates to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). So if your accident caused emotional trauma, you might have a higher risk of PCS.
How Do You Get Compensation for a Concussion Injury?
You could seek personal injury compensation if your concussion resulted from someone else’s negligence. To prove negligence, you must have evidence showing that another party failed to exercise ordinary care, and as a result, you got injured.
For example, if a driver runs a red light and hits your motorcycle, causing a motorcycle accident, that driver failed to exercise reasonable care. You can seek compensation for your economic and non-economic losses, including medical bills, lost income, diminished earning capacity, pain, and suffering.
A concussion injury can deprive you of some of your most basic abilities. You might suffer from brain fog that interferes with your ability to think. You might even experience difficulties concentrating and remembering. As a result, you might miss work and suffer a significant decline in your quality of life.