Why Concussions Are Anything But “Mild” Brain Injuries

Why Concussions Are Anything But “Mild” Brain Injuries Concussions are very serious injuries. It’s a misnomer to say that any type of traumatic brain injury, including a concussion, is “mild.” Many concussions and other types of traumatic brain injuries require a lifetime of medical care and hospital visits. Improper or untimely treatment may be fatal. Many victims suffer physically, emotionally, and cognitively if they suffer a concussion due to any type of accident.

The Cleveland Clinic states that cerebrospinal fluid acts as a cushion between the soft and squishy brain tissue and the hard protective exterior of the skull, and that “a concussion occurs when your brain bounces or twists inside your skull or experiences rapid, whiplash-type back and forth movement that causes it to collide with the inside of your skull. This brain movement stretches and damages brain cells and leads to chemical changes in the brain.”

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a concussion is one type of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Medical providers may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life-threatening. Even so, the effects of a concussion can be serious.

What types of accidents cause concussions?

Concussions are often due to car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, ATV accidents, other types of vehicle accidents, construction accidents, slip and fall accidents (at nursing homes, while on another’s property, and other locations), recreational and sports accidents, physical assaults, and other types of negligence.

What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion?

The CDC divides concussion symptoms into four categories:

  • Thinking and remembering. Symptoms include difficulty thinking clearly, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty remembering new information.
  • Physical pain and related Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, balance difficulties, blurred/fuzzy vision, fatigue, nausea or vomiting, and light sensitivity.
  • Emotional suffering. Symptoms include irritability, sadness, anxiety, and nervousness.
  • Sleep difficulties. Symptoms include sleeping more (or less) than usual, and difficulty falling asleep.

Other symptoms include one pupil bigger than the other, slurred speech, convulsions, seizures, and loss of consciousness.

The signs of concussions in children include many of the above symptoms, crying more than usual, changes in school performance, temper tantrums, and a reduced attention span. These signs and symptoms of a concussion may not appear after an accident.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the force can cause a concussion to occur at the point of impact or on the opposite side of the brain, “as the brain tissue itself moves from the force of the blow and hits the opposite side of the skull.” Different locations of the concussion can predict different symptoms. For example, “A concussion to the back of the brain causes balance issues, fogginess, neck pain, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms usually predict a longer recovery from a concussion.”

What tests are used to diagnose a concussion?

The Cleveland Clinic states that concussion diagnostic tests include:

  • A neurological exam that tests the accident victim’s:
    • Reflexes and neurological function
    • Reaction to light, eye movement, and vision
    • Balance and coordination
    • Strength
    • Hearing
    • Ability to move the victim’s neck
  • Additional tests that may examine the victim’s ability to think, solve problems, concentrate, and remember.
  • Oral questions that examine the victim’s sleeping patterns, behavioral changes, and mood changes.

Generally, CT scans and MRIs aren’t usually initially used because imaging doesn’t show most of the effects of a concussion. These tests may be used if there is evidence of more harm, such as swelling inside the brain, bleeding inside the skull, or a spinal cord injury.

What are the treatments for a concussion?

The treatments vary depending on whether the victim is a child or an adult.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, overall concussion treatments include:

  • Physical and mental rest. While victims need more sleep and rest than normal, the Cleveland Clinic states too much mental rest may “actually lengthen the recovery period and make you more sensitive to activities when you return to them.” Victims should begin new activities slowly and avoid any activities that may worsen their symptoms.
  • Avoidance of most medications. Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen (Aleve®) and ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) should not be taken soon after a suspected concussion has occurred. These medications mask symptoms and thin the blood, which may increase the risk of bleeding….After a concussion is diagnosed, if pain medication is needed, acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is a safer option.”

Possible complications from a concussion

Like the CDC, the Cleveland Clinic states that all concussions should be considered serious – even if you’ve been told yours is mild. While a single concussion is unlikely to cause permanent brain damage, just one concussion increases the risk of subsequent concussions. This can be especially dangerous or deadly if the second concussion occurs before the first concussion fully heals.

While rare, “A concussion can lead to bleeding in the brain or brain swelling that can be fatal. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to carefully watch a concussed person in the first 24 to 48 hours after the concussion and to seek immediate care if symptoms worsen.” Concussions can cause jaw pain and pain in an accident victim’s bones and muscles of their head, neck, and shoulders. One possible complication of a concussion is a temporomandibular joint disorder. In addition, “the main symptom of concussion – headache – can be the result of spasms and inflammation in your jaw muscles following a blow to the jaw.”

Concussions can also cause cumulative brain damage.

The doctors who treat concussions include neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, physical therapists, neuro-ophthalmologists, and therapists who specialize in dizziness symptoms and cervical pain.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a concussion or any type of brain injury, call our personal injury lawyers today. Our trial lawyers will work with your doctors and our network of doctors if necessary to verify the full scope and severity of your brain injury, what type of medical care you need, the cost of that care, and all the ways the concussion is affecting your life.

At Glisson Law, we are respected throughout Illinois and Missouri for our strong record of successful brain injury settlements and verdicts. Fill out our contact form or call our concussion injury lawyers in Alton today. We serve individuals and families throughout Belleville, Edwardsville, St. Clair, Madison County, and all of Illinois and Missouri.