What Should I Do If I Have a Concussion?

No matter how minor or major the event that resulted in your injury, concussions should never be ignored or reduced as insignificant. A concussion is actually a mild traumatic brain injury that results from some sort of trauma to the head, and any time you are dealing with an impact to the brain you need to be careful.

Concussions are quite common and don’t discriminate. As a symptom of a traumatic brain injury, they can result in mild effects, major disability, and even death. If you have sustained an injury that resulted in a concussion, there are a few steps you need to follow to ensure your health is being taken care of as well as possible.

Before You Do Anything Else – A Guide to Concussion Care

After an injury that resulted in a blow or violent shaking of your head, you should be alert to the concern that you might have a concussion. Concussions are common when you have been injured in a car accident, a slip and fall in which your head met with impact, a sports injury, or an assault.

Any head injury should always be followed up with emergency care, but after your release there is still a possibility of a concussion. Watch for warning signs after your injury. They are not always immediate and often can occur 24 to 48 hours after the impact. If you notice these signs, you should seek further treatment:

  • Multiple instances of nausea and/or vomiting,
  • Unusual behavior,
  • Enlarged pupils or pupils that dilate unequally,
  • Blurry vision,
  • Seizures,
  • Dizziness or slurred speech,
  • Excessive drowsiness and/or difficulty arousing from sleep,
  • Any numbness or weakness in the extremities,
  • Headaches that worsen rather than improve, and
  • Memory issues such as trouble recognizing familiar people or places.

Any of these symptoms may indicate the presence of a concussion and should be followed by immediate medical treatment.

If you have already been diagnosed with a concussion, follow these steps to help you reduce your symptoms and recover quickly.

  1. Know what your triggers are and avoid them. Things that bring on or increase any of the above symptoms are considered triggers and need to be avoided. Common triggers include strong smells, bright lights, and loud noises, but you may have other triggers that you notice.
  2. Limit your brain’s stimulation. Since your brain was the part of your body that was injured, it is important to let it rest. Your brain never actually stops, so this is tricky but necessary. Try not to do anything that will cause overstimulation, such as reading, watching TV, or processing any new information.
  3. Sleep when you can. Sleep is one of the only ways that our brain is able to recover from injury. This makes it extra important when you have a concussion. You will probably notice that any little exertion – even regular daily activities – makes you feel tired. It is okay and even suggested that you take short 30 to 60-minute naps when you are tired and get a full night’s sleep.
  4. Let your body rest. If your arms or legs were physically injured, you would be forced to rest your body so they could heal. The same thing applies to your brain, but you often can’t see or always feel the brain’s injury so it is easy to push your limits. Your body needs to rest so that your brain does not have to overwork itself. Light activity is fine, but avoid anything strenuous that causes your heart rate to rise too much.
  5. Avoid driving too soon. There is a window of 24 to 48 hours after an injury in which concussion symptoms may appear seemingly from nowhere. Because of this possibility, it is important to take precautionary actions and avoid driving until this window has cleared. If you have a concussion and don’t know it, or are driving anyway, you may have slow reflexes and reaction time or you may trigger a severe headache or seizure. Any of these can cause an accident.
  6. Be careful if you use pain relievers. Ask your doctor before taking any aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications since these can increase your risk of bleeding. They can also hide symptoms that may show that you have a concussion.

The Basics About Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, actually contribute to 30% of deaths from injury in the United States. Survivors of TBIs often end up with symptoms that last a few days or symptoms that end up permanent. TBI symptoms include trouble with memory, impaired thinking, difficulty with movement, loss of sensation or problems with sensation, and emotional issues such as depression or changes in personality.

Statistics show that the highest rates of death due to TBI are usually in people aged 75 and older, but the leading causes vary by age. For those in the higher age bracket of over 65, falls were the leading cause of death. In those aged 24 – 64, intentional self-harm was the primary factor, while motor vehicle crashes led the list for people aged 5 – 24. Children younger than 4 were victims of assault leading to death for their primary cause.

Injuries that were non-fatal but resulted in hospitalization rates due to TBIs were highest in children ages 0-4 and adults 75 and older. However, falls were predominantly the leading cause of these emergency visits in all age groups except those 15 to 24 years old. This group’s injuries were primarily caused by being struck by or against an object. Motor vehicle crashes were another major cause of hospitalizations in ages 15 – 44 years.

Concussions are mild TBIs that can have lasting effects. Most people can fully recover from a concussion, but there is also a condition called post-concussion syndrome. This condition has symptoms that can last for weeks or even years after the injury.

Symptoms of post-concussion syndrome are similar to that of a concussion but last longer and can be more severe. If you were injured in an accident that resulted in a brain injury, you may be able to make a claim for your injury, pain, and suffering if you can prove that your accident was a result of someone else’s negligence.

Filing a Lawsuit for Concussion-Type Injuries

As with all injuries, claims for damages due to negligence can only be made if you have proof that the doctor you have been treating with feels that the injuries are related to the accident that you were involved in. This is the same with concussions and traumatic brain injury claims.

However, once your doctor includes in your medical records that he or she feels that your injuries are related to the personal injury that you sustained, your attorney can file an accident lawsuit alleging negligence on the part of the defendant.

To successfully win your case, your attorney will have to prove three major areas:

  • That you were involved in the accident in question and that that accident was due to the defendant’s negligence,
  • That the defendant owed you a duty of care in that they had a responsibility, by law, to act or refrain from acting in a way that would cause you harm,
  • And that, because they neglected to perform their duty of care, you were injured, and those injuries were the basis of your lawsuit.

Potential Damages for Concussion-Type Injuries

Compensation for your head injury will depend on the level of trauma and how much damage you sustained. Ongoing symptoms of memory loss, cognitive impairment and emotional or behavioral changes all add to the degree of compensation you may receive.

Voluntary settlements in which you and the at-fault party agree on the terms and amount of compensation often help save costs and time that can get extensive if the case continues to trial. Many factors are involved in determining final settlements.

The attorneys at Hershey Injury Law are experienced in making sure you get the compensation that you are entitled to. In a traumatic brain injury case, those damages can be awarded in two categories: special damages and general damages.

Special damages include any economic losses incurred due to the accident. These include, but are not limited to, out-of-pocket medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, and lost future earning capacity.

General damages, or non-economic losses, are harder to quantify. In these damages, money can’t effectively replace the loss, but is awarded anyway with the intention of alleviating some of the stress that loss is accompanied by. General damages include such intangible forms of loss as physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and trauma, humiliation and embarrassment, emotional distress, loss of society and companionship, and loss of consortium.

Your Concussion is Not “Nothing to Worry About”

No matter how small the impact, if you have an injury to your head you need to have it checked out by a medical professional. The first 24 to 48 hours are crucial when it comes to brain injuries, and how you treat your body during that time can be the difference in a quick recovery or long-term damages.

If you have sought medical treatment, gone through the recovery phase, and are still experiencing the effects of your brain injury, call us at Hershey Injury Law to see how we can help you protect your rights and get the help you need to pay for your expenses.

With the knowledgeable experts we have in our law firm, we can help make a stressful situation a little easier to get through, so you can focus on your health and family.