A concussion can occur because of a blow to the head as well as from a direct force being placed on the chest, neck or face that is strong enough to transmit to the head. According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the third leading cause of traumatic brain injuries for all age groups in the U.S. and since a concussion disrupts brain function, it is considered a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Furthermore, it is estimated that every year almost 4 million people in the U.S. sustain a concussion. These individuals experience a variety of symptoms. For some, symptoms subside within several weeks; however, on many occasions, these symptoms last for months.
When symptoms last for several months, this condition is referred to as Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS). If symptoms continue beyond several months, the individual may be diagnosed with Persistent Post-Concussion Syndrome (PPCS), a condition that may be permanent.
5 Common Concussion Symptoms
1. Memory Loss
Short-term memory loss is frequently one of the first symptoms an individual experiences after sustaining a concussion. This symptom can last for just a couple of minutes, for several weeks or longer. In an extreme case of TBI, this symptom may be permanent.
Seeking treatment as soon as possible following a car accident involving a head injury is vital to ensuring the necessary treatment is started right away; thus, reducing the likelihood of permanent damage to the brain.
Most people who suffer a concussion experience some degree of confusion following the event. This brain fog is considered normal after any type of traumatic brain injury. This confusion may be mild or severe. A mild case may result in an individual forgetting the day of the week; whereas, a severe case may cause an individual to forget his or her own name for a substantial length of time following the event.
3. Ringing in the Ears (Tinnitus)
This symptom typically diminishes with time and does not require any particular treatment; however, there are occasions when tinnitus does not go away and the individual experiences a loss of hearing: This loss of hearing may correlate with the specific frequency of the ringing itself.
A headache is a common symptom of TBIs; the severity of a headache depends on the extent of the injury to the brain. While headaches are common, they can also be one of the more serious concussion symptoms. A headache can indicate a more severe issue, including a brain bleed. For this reason, physicians usually recommend that individuals who are diagnosed with a concussion undergo a series of brain scans.
5. Nausea and Vomiting
Just like a headache, nausea and vomiting are common following a concussion; however, if the vomiting does not subside, seeking medical attention right away is crucial. This continued vomiting may mean that the injury is much more severe than first thought.
Furthermore, the repeated vomiting increases the pressure being placed on the brain, which could cause small arteries to rupture or elevate the individual’s blood pressure to dangerous levels.
Other signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:
- vision problems;
- nerve pain;
- light sensitivity;
- syncope (fainting);
- tingling sensations;
- noise and/or light sensitivity;
- mood changes;
- uncontrollable crying
- difficulty concentrating/brain fog;
- confusion/wandering aimlessly;
- excessive sleeping; and/or
- difficulty falling asleep.
A concussion is the most common form of TBI experienced. This injury results in complex, biomechanical changes within the brain. Individuals who sustain a concussion and do not receive proper treatment are more likely to experience delays in recovery, post-concussion syndrome and persistent post-concussion syndrome.
Post-Concussion Syndrome Test
There are tests that a neurologist can use to diagnose a concussion and post-concussion syndrome. Tests frequently used for diagnosis include balance testing, neuropsychological testing and the use of computerized programs designed specifically to evaluate a patient’s current condition.
Post-Concussion Syndrome Treatment
Once a post-concussion syndrome diagnosis is verified, therapy can be used to assist the individual in recovering to his or her maximum medical improvement level.
Treatments frequently utilized include:
- Vestibular physical therapy – to help address dizziness and incoordination.
- Exertional rehabilitation – a guided return to exercise which may include physical exercises designed to reduce symptoms (e.g., headaches).
- Vision therapy – exercise programs specifically designed to address the vision problems associated with concussions. These exercises may include targeted eye tracking, convergence as well as cognitive endurance.
- Cognitive rehabilitation therapy – exercises to improve memory and thinking skills.
- Occupational therapy – helps an individual regain the ability to perform daily tasks.
In addition, individuals who are suffering from the chronic or recurring side effects that are sometimes experienced following a concussion (e.g., depression and anxiety, etc.) may receive treatment from a psychiatrist.
Can Post-Concussion Syndrome Be Permanent?
Unfortunately, individuals who have had a concussion may suffer from a variety of symptoms, including post-concussion headaches, years later and according to a recent study, some individuals never fully recover: The study, Longitudinal Study of Post-concussion Syndrome: Not Everyone Recovers, was published in the Journal of Neurotrauma on April 15, 2017. The study finds that individuals who still have symptoms three years after the onset of their injury may never fully recover.
Contact a Trusted Concussion Attorney
If you have recently suffered a concussion or you are experiencing symptoms from a concussion you sustained some time ago, contact Johnstone & Gabhart at 304-343-7100 or 877-416-5457 (toll-free) today to schedule your complimentary initial consultation. During your free consultation, we will evaluate your case and then discuss potential case scenarios with you. Our firm proudly serves individuals in West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky.