A concussion injury can happen during any type of accident. You do not even need to suffer head trauma to develop a concussion. Instead, any violent shaking of your brain can produce the damage and swelling that produces a concussion.
Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries. These injuries can produce debilitating physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms. While most concussion victims recover within a couple of months without any complications, some will develop a long-term post-concussion syndrome that could last years.
How Does Your Body Protect Your Brain?
Your brain is the control center for your body. It gathers sensory information from your eyes, ears, skin, and other sense organs. It uses these inputs to decide how to control your body. For example, if your skin feels cold, your brain reduces circulation to your limbs and triggers a shivering response in your muscles.
Since it performs such essential tasks, your body provides multiple layers of protection for your brain. Your brain sits inside your skull. The skull surrounds it and protects it from direct impacts.
Three layers of membranes called meninges wrap around the brain and spinal cord. The meninges shield the brain from bacteria, viruses, and parasites in the body. They also partially fill the void between your brain and skull, acting as packing material to help hold your brain away from the inside of your skull.
The meninges are filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The brain floats in the CSF. The fluid resistance of the CSF helps cushion the brain and prevent it from rattling inside your skull.
How Do Concussions Happen?
The word concussion means “to shake.” Concussions happen when your brain shakes inside your skull. Contrary to popular belief, concussions do not happen when your brain strikes the inside of your skull. Such an injury would cause a potentially fatal cerebral contusion.
Instead, concussions happen when your brain suffers mild damage when the CSF and meninges press against your brain as they prevent it from striking the inside of your skull.
You can think of the CSF and meninges like seat belts. As the brain shakes inside the skull, the CSF and meninges restrain its motion. However, the force they must exert on the brain can damage the neurons that make up the brain’s structure.
Your body responds to the damaged neurons by triggering inflammation. Your brain swells and runs a fever. Between the damaged neurons, the swelling, and the fever, you could develop symptoms that incapacitate you.
What Causes Concussion Injuries?
Concussion injuries happen in three primary ways:
When something strikes your head, your brain suddenly and violently shifts inside your skull. The CSF and meninges resist this movement, resulting in a concussion. Thus, you could suffer a concussion when you strike your head on the ground in a slip and fall accident.
You do not need to hit your head to suffer a concussion. Violent shaking causes your brain to rapidly accelerate and decelerate inside your skull. Again, the fluid pressure of the CSF and the cushioning force of the meninges compress your brain and damage it.
A common cause of violent shaking happens in car accidents. For example, in a rear-end collision, your head whips back and forth. This violent shaking can cause a concussion even if you do not hit your head on anything.
Explosions produce a blast wave of pressurized air. This air squeezes your head and brain, producing a concussion. Active duty service members can develop these types of blast concussions.
They can also happen to workers exposed to explosions in workplace accidents. Thus, concussions can happen in workers involved in mining, demolitions, oil and gas extraction, and other professions that use explosives.
What Are Some Concussion Injury Symptoms?
Concussions can produce a wide range of symptoms depending on the severity and location of your injury.
Some common symptoms you might experience after a concussion include the following:
- Dizziness and nausea
- Clumsiness and loss of balance
- Blurry vision
- Slurred speech
- Buzzing or ringing in your ears
- Brain fog
- Difficulty concentrating
- Angry outbursts
You will probably not experience all of these symptoms. And your symptoms may worsen, particularly in the first few hours and days after your injury. As brain cells die and the brain swells, new symptoms may appear, and existing symptoms can worsen, improve, or disappear.
Rating Your Concussion
The severity and duration of the symptoms you experience could depend on the severity of your concussion. Doctors often use the Glasgow Coma Scale to rate concussions. This scale gives you a score using three types of responses. The overall score tells you the severity of your brain injury.
The three responses used in the Glasgow Coma Scale include:
- Eye-opening response
- Motor response
- Verbal response
Generally, a greater level of impairment in your responses implies a more severe concussion. Thus, if you could not form words when asked questions, you probably suffered a severe concussion.
What Types of Complications Can Result From Concussions?
Concussion symptoms usually dissipate within two months after an injury. During that time, you might need to modify your activities to accommodate your disabilities. And your doctor may recommend avoiding anything that might cause another concussion. Multiple concussions can lead to a degenerative brain disease called CTE.
Depending on the location and severity of your concussion, you might experience ongoing memory loss. If you damage an area of your brain responsible for encoding new memories, you might have difficulty learning new skills and retaining new information after your injury.
Another complication of concussions happens when your symptoms last longer than two months. Doctors do not know what causes post-concussion syndrome. However, they speculate that it happens when a patient experiences post-traumatic stress disorder at the time of their concussion.
How Can I Get Compensation For a Concussion Injury?
You can pursue a personal injury claim when you suffer a concussion that resulted from someone else’s intentional or negligent actions. To prove battery, you must show that the other party intended to cause harmful contact. Proving negligence requires you to show that the other party failed to exercise reasonable care.
Once you prove liability, you can seek compensation for your losses. Your economic damages include your medical costs, out-of-pocket expenses, and wage losses. Your non-economic damages include the diminishment in your quality of life due to pain, mental anguish, and disabilities.
A concussion can temporarily disable you from moving normally and thinking clearly. Contact Lopez Law Group Accident Injury Attorneys at (727) 933-0015 for a free consultation to discuss your concussion injury and the compensation you can seek.