A concussion is the mildest form of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). After a concussion, you might experience symptoms ranging from a headache to amnesia.
Concussions rarely cause death, but they do require treatment. If you suffer from a concussion, your doctor will likely prescribe rest for up to two months after your injury. During that time, your injuries may limit your ability to work and meet your daily needs.
Read on to learn about concussion injuries and what you can do to get compensation for the effects of a concussion.
What Is the Function of Your Brain and Skull?
Your brain controls your nervous system. It also receives sensory information about your body and its environment. Your brain uses this information to control your body. If your finger touches a hot object, your brain tells your arm to flinch and pull your hand back.
Because your brain is so essential, your body has several layers of protection around it. Your skull surrounds your brain and shields it from impacts. The spherical shape of your skull helps to dissipate impact forces instead of transmitting them to the brain.
A layer of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sits between the brain and the skull. The CSF surrounds and cushions your brain. When your head gets jostled, the pressure of the CSF keeps your brain from hitting the inside of your skull.
How Does a Concussion Injury Happen?
A concussion happens when the pressure in the CSF causes mild damage to your brain. This pressure can happen in various ways, including the following:
If you bump your head, the impact can cause your brain to slide inside your skull. As the brain slides, it compresses the CSF.
But according to the laws of motion, when the brain compresses the CSF, the CSF pushes back on the brain. The fluid pressure damages brain cells and may even rupture some of the small blood vessels in the brain.
Rapid Acceleration or Deceleration
You don’t need to hit your head to suffer a concussion. Rapid acceleration or deceleration can cause your brain to slosh inside your skull. As it sloshes, it creates pressure waves in the CSF. These waves squeeze the brain and damage it.
This type of concussion can happen in a car accident. As your body whips back and forth during the collision, your brain whips back and forth in your skull. Even if your seat belt and airbag prevent you from hitting your head, you can still suffer a concussion from the whipping motion.
An explosion creates a blast wave of pressurized air. This pressure wave compresses the CSF and can damage your brain.
Blast-related concussions commonly appear in combat veterans. But they can also happen in workplace accidents involving miners, construction workers, oil and gas workers, and other people who work around explosives.
What Are the Symptoms of a Concussion Injury?
Since your brain controls all of your actions and thoughts, concussions can produce physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms.
Physical concussion symptoms include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurry vision or seeing stars
Concussions can also cause cognitive symptoms, such as:
- Confusion and brain fog
- Difficulty concentrating
Emotional symptoms produced by concussions might include:
- Emotional outbursts
- Personality changes
Emotional symptoms of a concussion often match those associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
How Do Doctors Rate the Severity of a Concussion?
Doctors use a few scales to rate the severity of a concussion. The severity of a concussion can tell you how long your recovery will last. It can also tell you which symptoms you might experience.
The most common rating scale for concussions is called the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). The GCS rates your responses to three types of stimuli to give an overall rating for your concussion.
If you lost consciousness, even briefly, you have a severe concussion. If you only open your eyes in response to verbal or physical stimuli, you have a moderate concussion. If you open your eyes spontaneously after your accident, you have a mild concussion.
The person evaluating you will ask you to move your arms or legs. When you have a severe concussion, you can only relax your muscles and cannot flex them. For a moderate concussion, you can flex your muscles in response to stimuli. When you have a mild concussion, you can flex and relax your muscles on command.
When doctors or paramedics evaluate your concussion, they will ask you questions like:
- What happened?
- What is your name?
- Do you know where you are?
They will use your response to evaluate the severity of your concussion. If you cannot answer or can only make sounds, you have a severe concussion. If you give an incoherent answer by misusing words, you have a moderate concussion. If you give a coherent answer, even if it’s confusing, you have a mild concussion.
Complications of a Concussion
Concussion symptoms usually clear up within two months. You have post-concussion syndrome (PCS) if your symptoms last longer than two months. If your accident caused PTSD, you have a higher likelihood of developing PCS.
How Can You Get Compensation for a Concussion Injury?
You can seek compensation when you suffer a concussion injury due to someone else’s negligence. To get compensation, you must prove that the at-fault party failed to exercise reasonable care and this failure caused your injury.
Negligence can include behaviors that lead to accidental injuries, like violating traffic laws, failing to find and clean spills on the floor, or driving a truck with an unsecured load. When these actions cause an accident that results in a concussion, you can pursue an injury claim against the negligent party.
A concussion can disable you from working or caring for yourself while you suffer from its physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms. As a result, you might be unable to pay for the medical care and therapy you need to fully recover.