head injury

Symptoms of Brain Injury or Concussion after an Accident

Every year more than 2.5 million people sustain a brain injury or concussion. That’s one person every 13 seconds. While the majority of people with concussion are treated and released, 280,000 are hospitalized and 50,000 die because of their injuries. Those who live, whether they were hospitalized or not, often experience the effects for years to come – sometimes for the rest of their lives.

What is Brain Injury or Concussion?

A concussion is a broad term used to describe brain injury that affects how the brain functions. It is typically the result of an external force either striking, penetrating, or jerking/shaking the head, neck, or upper body. Sometimes the person loses unconsciousness, but very often, they do not. In fact, it is very possible to have a concussion and not even know it. Concussion and brain injury are usually not fatal and most people do not exhibit any lasting effects as a result.

Can You Get a Brain Injury or Concussion without Hitting Your Head?

It is possible to injure your brain without hitting your head. The brain is soft, with a texture like soft butter. The skull is very hard so that it can protect the brain. However, the inside of the skull has several bony ridges that are quite sharp. They are there to keep the brain in place, but when the head is hit or jostled, such as with whiplash, the brain jostles against these bony ridges and can be injured as a result even though nothing ever actually struck your head. Unfortunately, most people think that just because they didn’t hit their head that they don’t have a concussion or a brain injury so they never seek treatment. They may have symptoms of brain injury but they never make the connection between the whiplash or jolt and their neurological symptoms.

Complications of Brain Injury and Concussion

While most people who get a concussion don’t suffer any noticeable effects afterward, there are some who are affected for life. Some of the more common complications and long term effects of concussion and brain injury include:

  • Seizures
  • Personality changes
  • Infection
  • Cognitive problems (memory, judgment, learning, concentration)
  • Nerve damage
  • Communication problems (comprehension, language, writing)
  • Fluid build-up
  • Emotional or mental health problems
  • Executive function problems (organization, problem solving, making decisions)
  • Social problems
  • Damage to blood vessels

Symptoms of Brain Injury and Concussion

There are a variety of symptoms associated with brain injury, some are immediate while others may not show up for a week or more.

Immediate reaction to being hit in the head or being jostled:

  • Feeling confused or dazed, even if just for a moment
  • Blacked out or things got “hazy” or dark
  • Saw stars or flashes of light

Other potentially long-term symptoms include:

  • Headache or migraine
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Agitation
  • Temporary amnesia (inability to recognize familiar people or remember certain life events)
  • Problems with balance
  • Disoriented
  • Fatigue – Mental, physical, or both
  • Overly emotional or moody
  • Problems with vision
  • Photophobia
  • Problems with memory
  • Sleep problems
  • Anger issues
  • Hypersensitive to sensory stimuli
  • Depression and social isolation
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Problem finding the “right” word
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Concentration problems or inability to focus

These symptoms may signal a serious head injury:

  • Unusual behavior – overly combative, or unusually complacent
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness for several minutes or even hours
  • A headache that gets worse or won’t go away
  • Impaired motor skill function or loss of coordination
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Unable to wake from sleep
  • Slurred speech
  • Either one or both pupils are dilated
  • Numbness or weakness in the toes and fingers
  • Clear fluid draining from the ears or nose

Children and infants who have a brain injury will often show symptoms that are different from adult symptoms. Parents and caregivers should closely observe a child who has been in an accident, or who has been jostled, for these signs of infant and child brain injury (these symptoms indicate a potential medical emergency and they should be seen by a doctor immediately):

  • Inconsolable, persistent crying
  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in nursing or eating
  • Loss of interest in activities or toys they enjoy
  • Lethargic
  • Difficult waking or can’t wake
  • Unable to focus or pay attention
  • Depressed or sad
  • Irritable or unusually whiney or fussy

Any injury to the head should be taken very seriously. If you’ve been in an accident and sustained a brain injury, you may be eligible for compensation. Call the attorneys at The Law Offices of Ivan M. Diamond for a free consultation. Our experienced, caring lawyers will handle the courts and insurance companies while you focus on getting better.