Stephen Schultz | November 11, 2022 | Brain Injuries
Concussions are serious injuries. Although they rarely result in death, they can produce incapacitating symptoms. Worse yet, these symptoms could take anywhere from hours to weeks to appear.
During this time, symptoms may appear, disappear, or change drastically. In some cases, your symptoms could worsen before improving. And some symptoms, like memory loss, might never go away.
Learn more about delayed concussion symptoms and how they can affect a personal injury claim.
How Do Concussion Injuries Happen?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury. It happens when pressure on your brain damages or kills brain cells.
Your skull serves to protect your brain. But if your brain strikes the inside of your skull, you can suffer a severe injury known as a brain contusion. This kind of bruising can cause permanent brain damage, coma, or even death.
A layer of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) prevents this from happening. The CSF sits between your brain and your skull to cushion your brain and slow its movement when your head is hit or jostled.
Your CSF has a viscosity slightly thicker than water. When your brain moves in the CSF, the CSF pushes back on the brain to slow it down. This fluid resistance prevents your brain from slamming into your skull, but the pressure of the CSF on your brain can cause a concussion.
Concussions can occur in a few situations where the CSF becomes pressurized.
When you bump your head, your brain slides toward the point of impact. Pressure from the CSF stops your brain from hitting your skull.
Head trauma often happens in falls. For example, in a slip and fall accident, you might hit the back of your head on the ground as your feet lose traction and you fall backward. Similarly, in a trip and fall accident, you may stumble and hit your head on the ground or another object as you fall forward.
Rapid Acceleration and Deceleration
You don’t need to strike your head to suffer a concussion. The whipping forces you experience in a collision can shake your head violently enough that your brain becomes damaged. Again, as your head whips back and forth, the CSF must exert pressure on the brain to cushion it.
This type of concussion often happens in traffic accidents. During a collision, your body may twist and bend. While your seat belt restrains your body, there’s nothing to restrain your head. Therefore, it can whip forward or backward with a sudden impact, damaging your neck, back, or brain.
Explosions cause pressure waves. When a wave of pressurized air passes over you following a powerful blast, it can compress the CSF and squeeze your brain.
Explosion-related concussions are most often seen in soldiers. But laborers who work around explosives can also suffer concussions. Mining, oil and gas extraction, and demolition workers can experience blast injuries like concussions after workplace accidents involving explosions.
Delayed Symptoms of a Concussion
Fluid pressure on your brain can injure or destroy brain cells and rupture small blood vessels in your brain. This tissue damage can cause your brain to malfunction. Since your brain controls your body and mind, the symptoms of a concussion can have physical, cognitive, and emotional effects.
Concussion symptoms also come from swelling in your brain. Your body responds to your brain injury by triggering an inflammatory response, causing your brain to swell and increase in temperature. Inflammation protects your brain from infection, but it can also cause your brain to misfire.
Swelling in the brain can squeeze the tiny blood vessels that supply blood to the organ. This can deprive some parts of your brain of the oxygen they need. Swelling can also damage or rupture brain cells, expanding the damage caused by the initial accident.
The symptoms of a concussion can result from damage to the brain during the accident or happen in response to subsequent swelling. Sometimes, symptoms related to brain swelling don’t appear until hours or days after the injury as the brain continues to swell in its aftermath.
Common Concussion Symptoms
Any concussion symptom can be delayed. As such, the symptoms you suffer and the timing of when they appear depend on the part of your brain that’s damaged.
Concussions can cause physical symptoms like:
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea and dizziness
- Blurry vision
- Slurred speech
They can also cause mental or cognitive symptoms, such as:
- Difficulty thinking or reasoning
- Brain fog
Physical symptoms typically appear right away, while mental symptoms develop hours and days after the accident. But concussion symptoms can happen in any order depending on the nature of your injury.
How Delayed Concussion Symptoms Can Affect a Personal Injury Claim
The law treats concussion symptoms the same, whether they’re immediate or delayed. Either way, you’ll need to prove that another person’s negligence caused your injury.
You might have an easier time proving causation for symptoms that manifest immediately after your accident. When delayed symptoms occur, the other party might argue the symptoms were caused by an intervening event rather than the original accident.
For example, suppose that you suffer a concussion in a car accident and report suffering depression and anxiety a week later. In this case, you would need to prove your symptoms were a natural result of your concussion.
At the same time, the other party will try to prove that your depression and anxiety arose from another cause that occurred between your accident and the onset of your symptoms.
If you can prove negligence and causation, you can seek compensation for your economic and non-economic losses.
Economic damages include the costs of your injury and treatment. Examples include medical expenses, lost income, and reduced earning capacity. Non-economic damages cover the non-financial impacts of your injuries, such as pain and suffering, mental harm, disability, and diminished quality of life.
Proving the Connection Between Delayed Concussion Symptoms and Your Accident
You and your personal injury attorney should be able to connect your delayed concussion symptoms to your accident using expert testimony from a doctor. If you can do so, your losses due to these delayed symptoms will be included in your compensation.
Contact Our Brain Injury Law Firm in St. Louis, MO
If you’ve been injured, please contact Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:
Ladue, MO Law Office
9807 S 40 Dr, St. Louis, MO 63124
Creve Coeur, MO Law Office
999 Executive Pkwy Dr #205, Creve Coeur, MO 63141