Concussions have been in the news for the past few years due to the concern about the long-term effects of these injuries on sports athletes. Repeated concussions can cause degeneration of the brain, which leads to dementia and death.
Even a single concussion can be a serious injury. You could experience physical symptoms like headaches. You could even experience amnesia or brain fog.
Your Brain and Skull
Your brain controls your entire nervous system. And your nervous system, in turn, controls your body. Without your brain, you cannot move your body, and your organs will not function correctly. Your senses might not work, or you might get garbled sensory information. Worst of all, you will not be able to think or remember clearly.
Your brain sits inside your skull and is protected by two layers. The first layer, just outside the brain, is your cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The CSF forms a protective cushion around your brain.
When your head experiences any kind of movement, the CSF slows down the motion of your brain so it does not hit the inside of your skull. Without your CSF, your brain would rattle around inside your skull.
The outer layer, the skull, holds in the CSF and forms a protective shell around your brain. When you hit your head, the skull protects your brain from the impact, and the CSF cushions your brain from the shock.
What are the Causes of a Concussion Injury?
A concussion injury results from rapid acceleration or deceleration. When your body accelerates or decelerates, the CSF exerts pressure on your brain to move it with your body.
Under normal forces, the viscosity of your CSF allows it to press on your brain without damaging it. But when your body accelerates or decelerates rapidly, the CSF must push hard enough to prevent your brain from slamming into the inside of your skull.
The pressure of the CSF on your brain damages brain cells. It can even rupture brain cells and small blood vessels. The damaged and dying cells cannot function properly, leading to brain dysfunction.
In addition, your body triggers inflammation in response to brain damage. The inflammatory response causes your brain to swell and develop a fever. These changes in your brain cause it to misfire and malfunction.
Many types of accidents can cause acceleration or deceleration strong enough to cause a concussion. Car accidents cause your head and neck to whip back and forth. This whipping motion can jostle your brain enough to cause a concussion even if you don’t hit your head.
Slip and fall accidents can also cause concussions. Slips may cause you to fall backward. As you hit the ground, your CSF must push hard against your brain to stop it from striking the back of your skull. If you hit your head, your brain will get jolted again, potentially damaging it.
What are the Symptoms of a Concussion Injury?
Concussion symptoms result from misfired or dropped signals in your brain due to damaged circuitry. Brain cells act like wires in your brain, and when they get damaged, they can’t carry signals correctly.
Swelling of your brain will also cause brain cells to misfire. This swelling can occur over hours or days. As a result, your symptoms will evolve, with new symptoms appearing and old symptoms changing as time goes on.
Symptoms of a concussion can affect you physically, cognitively, and emotionally. Some common concussion symptoms include:
- Nausea and dizziness
- Blurred vision
- Clumsy movement
- Confusion or brain fog
- Emotional outbursts
These symptoms usually dissipate after about two months. Occasionally, symptoms will last longer than two months. Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) happens when symptoms persist beyond the normal period.
Post-concussion syndromes appear to have links to post-traumatic stress disorders. If you suffered a particularly traumatic accident, you may have a higher risk of developing post-concussion syndrome.
Concussion Injury Rating Scales
When doctors diagnose a concussion injury, they usually rate it as mild, moderate, or severe. The severity of a concussion injury can tell doctors what symptoms you may experience and how long they will last.
Doctors can use several different scales to rate concussions. The most common is called the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). If you watch sports, you might have seen team doctors administer the GCS when an athlete suffers head trauma.
The GCS analyzes your responses to questions from doctors or EMTs to rate the severity of your brain injury:
Can You Open Your Eyes?
If you open your eyes without being asked, you have a mild concussion. If you open your eyes only after the doctor talks to you or touches you, you have a moderate concussion. If you cannot open your eyes or your accident knocked you unconscious, you have a severe concussion.
Can You Move?
If you can move on command, you have a mild concussion. If you can only relax your muscles but cannot flex them, you have a moderate concussion. If you cannot move, you have a severe concussion.
Can You Speak?
EMTs or doctors will ask questions like, “What is your name?” or “Do you know where you are?” to assess your ability to think and speak.
If you can give clear responses, even if you answer incorrectly, you have a mild concussion. If you can form words, but your answers are incoherent, you have a moderate concussion. If you can only make sounds or cannot respond at all, you have a severe concussion.
Getting Compensation for a Concussion Injury
Economic losses include your medical bills, lost income, and other financial damage caused by your injury. Non-economic losses include pain and suffering, and other non-financial impacts on your life.
Contact a Las Vegas Personal Injury Lawyer for Help
Concussions can severely impact your ability to work. They can erode your quality of life. To discuss the compensation you can seek for your concussion injury, contact or call the law firm Battle Born Injury Lawyers in Las Vegas at (702) 570-9000 for a free consultation.