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What Is a Concussion: Causes, Symptoms, and Recovery

April 15, 2019

What Is a Concussion: Causes, Symptoms, and Recovery

Accidents can cause a variety of injuries including trauma to the brain. Approximately 1.5 million Canadians are living with the effects of some form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). A majority of TBIs fall under the category of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), which is commonly known as a concussion.

Concussions are rarely life threatening at first. Unfortunately, concussions sometimes do not display obvious symptoms and may go unnoticed for some time. Knowing the signs and symptoms of an MTBI is crucial after an accident, as they can have a long-term impact on your physical and mental health. Here is a guide to understanding concussions:

Contact sports can cause concussions

What Causes a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of brain injury caused by your brain colliding with the inside wall of your skull. This is most often the result of a sudden direct impact to the head, but can also be caused by rapid deceleration flinging your head forward or from side to side (like in a car collision). The brain doesn’t sit snugly inside the skull; it is contained inside three membranes called the meninges, with spinal fluid between the first and second layers of the meninges. This creates a buffer layer of tissue and fluid that acts much like a shock absorber to protect the brain from injury. While this does work very well to protect the brain from the stresses of normal day-to-day activities, it may not be enough to cushion the brain during a severe blow. A severe blow can damage blood vessels and nerves to varying degrees.

Common Causes of a Concussion

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Trip and fall accidents
  • Falls from a height
  • Sports and other recreational activities
  • Fights or physical altercations

Unequal pupil size can be a sign of a concussion

What Are the Symptoms of a Concussion?

Though physical symptoms, like a bruise or a cut on your head, are visible, concussions are less so. They are not easily discernible and may prove challenging to diagnose since the symptoms may not appear in diagnostic tests or neurological exams.

Symptoms vary greatly and may show immediately after an accident or take days or weeks before they manifest. Additionally, while some symptoms last only for a few seconds, others can persist for months. Individuals should be monitored closely after an accident to determine if they’ve acquired a concussion.

Concussion Symptoms in Adults

  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Sluggishness or feeling dazed
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired or blurred vision
  • Difficulties in concentrating
  • Loss of memory before or after the incident
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light and/or noise

Keep an eye on these symptoms in children

Concussion Symptoms in Children

While children can be more resilient to injury, they are still vulnerable to concussions, given the ‘right’ circumstances. Older children will have symptoms similar to those of adults. Toddlers and infants, however, are more challenging to diagnose, given their inherent lesser communication skills. Parents or guardians should keep an eye on the following behaviours if they believe their child may have been concussed:

  • Constant crying
  • Inability or refusal to nurse or eat
  • Loss of interest in toys
  • Inability to remember new skills

The most severe symptoms of a concussion are:

  • Persistent headaches that get worse
  • Uneven pupil dilation
  • Weakness or numbness
  • Loss of coordination (balance issues or clumsiness)
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Mood, behaviour, or personality changes
  • Passing out or losing consciousness (even momentarily)

If any of these signs and symptoms are observed in an individual after an accident, call an ambulance or take them to the emergency room immediately. To ascertain whether there is any bruising or bleeding in the brain, the doctor may recommend a CT or MRI scan.

 Know what to do to promote recovery

What Should I Do in Case of a Concussion?

If you or someone you know has suffered a suspected concussion, take the following steps:

1. Seek the aid of a medical professional.

After a head injury, consult a doctor to determine if the individual has a concussion, how serious it is, and whether treatment is necessary. Those who lose consciousness (even for a few seconds) must be taken to the emergency room as soon as possible.

Consult with your doctor about any medications you may be currently on. They may want to modify dosages until you have recovered from your concussion. Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for headaches. Other pain relievers, like ibuprofen (Advil) should be avoided since they might increase the risk of bleeding.

2. Rest.

Sleep is vital. The brain cannot repair itself without proper rest. This will include daytime naps as well as nighttime sleeping. As well, doctors generally advise patients to rest both physically and cognitively. This is the most effective way to help the brain recover from a concussion. The affected individual should:

  • Avoid strenuous activities like walking, doing household chores, or playing any sports
  • Reduce mental activities requiring concentration, like puzzles, video games, homework, and even texting
  • Reduce screen time in general, and avoid loud noises and bright lights.
  • Cease all activities that trigger pain, balance problems, dizziness, or other symptoms of concussion
  • Do not drive any vehicle, including bicycles, skateboards, or roller blades

Recovering from a concussion can take time; how long depends on the individual and the severity of the concussion. While some can go home immediately after consulting with their doctor, others may need to be admitted and monitored at the hospital.

The most important thing is for the patient to listen to their healthcare provider and adhere to their instructions so you can quickly resume your everyday life.

Let personal injury lawyers handle your case while you recover

Can I Make a Personal Injury Claim for a Concussion?

If you or a loved one has sustained a concussion due to an accident, you may be eligible for compensation, and may be able to pursue legal action. The restitution you are entitled to depends on the severity of the injury and the expenses resulting from the concussion. Compensation for a concussion injury may include:

  • Cost of medical treatment – including hospital fees, any prescription drugs or medical devices needed, and incidental expenses like the cost of travel to and from the hospital for treatment.
  • Loss of income – taking into account factors like wages missed while absent from work, bonuses lost, and forfeiture of promotional opportunities.
  • General damages – including intangible factors like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and decreased quality of life.

To get the maximum compensation and avoid further stress, have a personal injury lawyer take up your case. Entrusting your personal injury claim to a lawyer can give you peace of mind and help you focus your energies on recovery.

Michelle Linka Law understands that you are going through a difficult situation. This is why we bring personal attention and care to our personal injury law practice. If you or your loved one is suffering from a concussion, we will handle your legal claims for you. We are committed to recovering lost income and obtaining the full compensation you deserve.

Contact us at 416-477-7288 for our Toronto office, (905) 448-7810 for our branch in Whitby, and (705) 243-6494 for our Peterborough practice to schedule a consultation.

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