Concussions Due to Car Accidents Can Be Fatal or Catastrophic

Concussions Due to Car Accidents Can Be Fatal or CatastrophicCar accidents can easily cause a concussion for several reasons. On impact, especially at high speeds, an occupant of a vehicle can strike another passenger, a dashboard, a side of the car, a window, or another car part. Even without impact, because a driver is locked into his seat by a seatbelt, a driver’s head can whip around, causing a concussion. Safety devices within the vehicle, such as airbags, can cause concussions. The risk of a concussion or a traumatic brain injury is even more likely if a car strikes a pedestrian or a bicycle rider because of the sheer force of a speeding car, the vast disparity of size between the car and the person impacted, and the lack of protection available to bicyclists or pedestrians.

Car accident victims in Tulsa who have a concussion often need emergency medical treatment. They may need surgery. Many victims with concussions and other types of head trauma never fully recover. Many concussion victims need long-term rehabilitative therapy with a team of physical therapists, occupational therapists, neurologists, neuropsychologists, and many other healthcare professionals.

What is a concussion?

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, a concussion arises from a blow or jolt to the head and in most basic terms, prevents the brain from working properly. According to the Concussion Foundation, a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury. The head and brain move rapidly, causing brain tissue to change shape which often causes damage to brain cells. Per the Concussion Foundation, “this damage also causes chemical and metabolic changes within the brain cells, making it more difficult for cells to function and communicate. Since the brain is the body’s control center, the effects of a concussion can be far-reaching.”

What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion?

The symptoms may be short-term (just a day or so) or they may linger for months or longer.  Even if a person’s symptoms resolve, the lasting impacts will remain with them forever as they are now more prone to having a subsequent concussion in the future – car accident victims who have a concussion are more likely to have another concussion than those who have never experienced one before.

You, or someone who cares for you, may notice concussion symptoms immediately but in some cases, symptoms may not appear for hours, days, weeks, or even months. The delay in symptoms is one reason every car accident victim should be seen by an emergency care physician or their general physician as soon as possible after an accident.

Common concussion symptoms include headaches, memory problems, vomiting and/or nausea, fatigue, dizziness, vision difficulties, mood changes, difficulty walking, changes in sleep rhythms, mood changes, and other characteristics that differ from a person’s pre-incident behavior. Other symptoms include loss of consciousness, amnesia and inappropriate crying or laughter.

How is a concussion diagnosed?

Experienced concussion healthcare doctors will examine your physical symptoms, cognitive difficulties, sleep symptoms, and emotional responses. Doctors have a number of various tests in their arsenal to determine whether you have a concussion and the severity of the concussion. The Mayo Clinic states that these diagnostic tests include:

  • A neurological examination. A doctor will examine your hearing, vision, balance, strength, sensations, coordination and reflexes.
  • Cognitive tests. The doctor will examine your cognitive skills including your ability to concentrate and remember.
  • Imaging tests. There are several tests that are used to look inside a person’s head, often to confirm or deny bleeding or swelling in the skull. A CT scan is used to initially assess your brain, though CT scans for children are used with more caution to avoid radiation exposure. An MRI may also be used in replace of a CT for various reasons. Generally, X-rays are deferred unless there is a concern of a skull fracture.

What are the treatments for a concussion?

Treatments vary depending on the results of the diagnostic tests and other factors. It’s likely that your doctors will prescribe plenty of physical and mental rest. Generally, doctors recommend rest for the first 48 hours at the absolute minimum. Concussion victims should limit watching TV, working, reading, or using a computer if the symptoms worsen. Any type of vigorous movement or activity requiring or resulting in mental strain,  should be avoided until the symptoms are gone.

Light physical and mental activities should be resumed slowly as long as the symptoms don’t worsen. Different rehabilitative therapists should help with the various physical, cognitive, and emotional difficulties you have.

Your doctor may prescribe certain pain relievers provided they don’t increase the risk of bleeding.

What are the possible complications of a concussion?

According to the Concussion Foundation, to recover from a concussion “your brain cells must return to the normal function by rebalancing levels of chemicals, like sodium and calcium, inside and outside of the cell.” The majority of people with concussion symptoms, with proper medical care, should return to good health in a few weeks – though some patients may need months or years. About 10 to 30 percent of concussion victims suffer from Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS).

Some car accident victims who have concussions may, during the recovery process, suffer a second concussion before the symptoms of their first concussion resolve. Known as Second Impact Syndrome (SIS), nearly half of persons diagnosed with the disease will ultimately die from it, while the other half often live with a life-long disability.

The Cleveland Clinic states that all concussions, including mild concussions, should be taken seriously. Other complications of a concussion from a car accident include:

  • A higher risk of depression and anxiety – especially if the victim has had prior concussions.
  • Structural brain injuries from multiple concussions – people who have had several head injuries in their life are at higher risk of long-lasting impairment. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is one example of a brain condition linked to repeated blows to the head.
  • Memory difficulties.
  • Dementia.

Concussions, in rare cases, can result in bleeding into the brain or brain swelling which could be fatal. This is yet another reason why immediate medical care is essential – especially during the first 24 to 48 hours after a traumatic event.

Victims of car accidents have the right to hold the driver and any other responsible parties accountable for any injuries they suffer, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries. At Biby Law Firm, our Tulsa car accident lawyers have obtained countless settlements and verdicts for accident victims with serious injuries. Please call our Tulsa accident lawyers or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment to discuss your rights. If you are unable to meet in person we also offer consultations by phone and videoconference.