Your brain controls everything in your body. When you suffer a brain injury, even a mild one like a concussion, you may experience a range of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms.
Although doctors classify concussions as mild due to their non-fatal prognosis, your symptoms could still disrupt your life for weeks or even months after an accident. During this time, you might have trouble moving, thinking, and regulating your emotions.
Here are some things to know about a concussion injury and when you can seek compensation for a concussion.
What Are the Functions and Structure of Your Brain?
Your brain is the most important organ in your body. It makes sure everything is running properly, including other vital organs like the heart and lungs. Without your brain, everything in your body shuts down.
Your brain also controls your thoughts and emotions. When it’s damaged, it can create problems with memory, problem-solving, and emotional stability.
Sensory perceptions are processed in the brain, which means an injury can lead to vision and hearing problems. It could also disrupt your balance and coordination, as your ears and eyes play a vital role in the movement.
Since it performs so many essential functions, your body has several layers of protection for your brain.
Your skull is like a helmet. It protects your brain from direct impacts and other forms of trauma.
Inside the skull is a layer of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which surrounds the brain. The CSF is like the cushioning in a helmet. It slows the brain’s motion through fluid resistance.
When you get hit in the head, the fluid pressure of the CSF on your brain prevents it from hitting the inside surface of the skull. Similarly, when you get jostled, the CSF cushions the brain from rattling around in your skull.
How Can a Concussion Injury Happen?
A concussion occurs when your brain moves so violently inside the CSF that the pressure of the fluid causes mild brain damage. Some brain cells die while others suffer damage. Small blood vessels might even tear or leak, causing internal bleeding.
In response to the injury, the brain becomes inflamed. Its tissue swells, constricting blood flow and increasing its temperature.
Both of these responses are intended to trap and kill microorganisms and prevent infection. But since a concussion rarely involves an open wound, brain inflammation creates more problems than it solves.
As the inflammation reduces blood flow to the brain, brain cells begin to malfunction. Just as a fever can give you a headache and make you feel delirious, the inflammation that follows a concussion can have the same effect.
The forces needed to cause a concussion injury often come from direct trauma. If you hit your head during a slip and fall accident, for example, the impact of your head against the ground can result in a concussion.
But you don’t need to suffer a head injury to get a concussion. The brain can shake violently inside your skull due to rapid acceleration or deceleration of your body, as can happen in a fall or car accident.
During a car crash, for instance, your body can continue to move in the same direction and at the same speed as before the collision. Your seat belt will slow your body down, but your brain will slosh around in your skull until it finally comes to a stop. As a result, you can suffer a concussion injury during a car crash even if you don’t hit your head.
How Do Doctors Rate the Severity of a Concussion Injury?
Doctors rate concussions as mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the level of brain damage. To measure the severity of a concussion, they typically use a scale like the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS).
When employing the GCS, doctors measure several responses, including eye-opening, motor, and verbal reactions.
If you open your eyes spontaneously after your injury, you likely have a mild concussion. If you only open your eyes in response to sound or touch, you likely have a moderate concussion. If you lose consciousness, even if only for a moment, you likely have a severe concussion.
Similarly, if you can move normally in response to instructions, you may have a mild concussion. If you have difficulty flexing your muscles but can still relax them, you may have a moderate concussion. If you can’t flex or relax your muscles at all, you may have a severe concussion.
Finally, the doctor will ask a series of questions like, “What’s your name?” or, “Do you know where you are?” If you give oriented responses, even if you answer incorrectly, you likely have a mild concussion. If you give an incoherent response but can still form words, you have a moderate concussion. If you can only make sounds or can’t speak at all, you have a severe concussion.
What Are Some Symptoms of a Concussion Injury?
Concussions can come with an array of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms.
Some common physical concussion symptoms include:
- Nausea or dizziness
- Blurry vision
- Slurred speech
Concussions can also cause cognitive symptoms, such as:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Brain fog
Since the brain controls your emotions, you can also experience emotional symptoms like:
- Emotional outbursts
- Mood or personality changes
In most cases, concussion symptoms clear up in about two months with frequent rest.
If your concussion symptoms last longer than two months, you may have what’s called post-concussion syndrome (PCS). PCS isn’t common, but doctors believe it happens more often when a concussion patient has also experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Many of the symptoms of PCS overlap with PTSD. For example, patients can become distracted, paranoid, and anxious. They might also experience flashbacks or catastrophize about their condition.
What Compensation Can You Receive for a Concussion Injury?
If your concussion resulted from someone else’s negligent actions, you might be eligible to recover financial compensation. When you prove negligence, you can seek compensation for your economic and non-economic losses.
Economic damages include the financial costs of your concussion, such as medical expenses and lost wages; non-economic damages involve the diminishment in your quality of life due to your injury. Examples of non-economic losses include pain and suffering.
Most concussions cause temporary symptoms. However, until you recover, you might lose your ability to think and remember clearly. Painful headaches or impaired coordination might interfere with your ability to work.
Contact Bradley Law Personal Injury Lawyers to receive a free consultation and discuss the effects of your concussion injury and the compensation you stand to receive for them.