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Concussion Symptoms After an Accident

If you have been in a car accident, watch for these concussion symptoms

concussion_symptomsOne of the most common injuries after a car accident, concussions, can affect people of all ages. Whether you had a direct blow to the head or not, you should always watch for concussion symptoms after any accident.

The term concussion refers to a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) that occurs when an impact jostles your head enough to push your brain against your skull. In the United States, TBIs account for two million ER visits each year and 300,000 hospitalizations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control:

“A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells. 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.”

As noted above, the term “mild” can mislead people into thinking they don’t need to worry about a concussion. In fact, concussions can cause a number of complications and related conditions, so you should seek immediate medical attention. (Watch the CDC’s animation of a concussion.)

Keith Fuicelli talks about concussion symptoms

Concussion Symptoms

Symptoms from concussions vary from person to person depending on which areas of the brain have been damaged, an individual’s age and more.

In general, symptoms include one or more of the following:

  • Persistent headache
  • Neck pain
  • Showing signs of confusion
  • Slurred or slow speech
  • Dizziness and/or balance-control issues
  • Fatigue
  • Depressed mood or sudden angry outbursts
  • Sensitivity to light or loud noises
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing ears
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Changes in sleep patterns

To diagnose a concussion, your doctor will ask you about these symptoms. He or she might test your vision, strength, reflexes, hearing, balance and coordination during a physical exam. In addition, your doctor might recommend a cognitive test that evaluates your memory and ability to recall short-term information.

Concussions in Children

If you search online for the term “concussion,” many of the results will discuss sports-related injuries. While children who play sports might risk concussions, these head injuries can also occur at home, at school, in the car or elsewhere.

For parents, knowing the symptoms of a concussion in a child can help you seek medical care when necessary:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Regression in developmental skills (e.g. potty training, motor skills)
  • No interest in toys or favorite activities
  • Staring blankly
  • Not responding to questions or delayed responses
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Memory issues
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Persistent crying or fussing
  • Balance-control issues
  • Listlessness
  • Vomiting or nausea

Your child’s pediatrician will screen for these symptoms and ask you a number of questions about your child’s behavior. He or she will also recommend the best treatment, which might include rest and limiting your child’s physical activity.

Concussion Treatment

Your doctor will recommend the best course of treatment for your concussion. In general, treatment includes rest for a number of days or weeks following your injury. You should take a break from working out and playing sports, and you should limit your physical activity in general.

According the Mayo Clinic:

“This rest also includes limiting activities that require thinking and mental concentration, such as playing video games, watching TV, schoolwork, reading, texting or using a computer, if these activities trigger your symptoms or worsen them.

Your doctor may recommend that you have shortened school days or workdays, take breaks during the day, or have reduced school workloads or work assignments as you recover from a concussion.”

While it can be challenging to limit your normal routine, remember that you are allowing your brain time to heal. You don’t want to risk causing further damage or complications by not following doctor’s orders.

If you have been injured in an accident and are living with a concussion or other traumatic brain injury, contact us for a free case consultation.

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