Concussions are classified by doctors as mild brain injuries because they rarely cause death. But in many cases, the symptoms do not feel mild. Concussions can affect your physical, cognitive, and emotional health. They may even cause long-term disabilities.
After a concussion, your cognitive and physical symptoms might prevent you from working or even caring for your needs. Even though many of these effects will dissipate within a couple of months, you may need physical or mental health therapy to recover your pre-injury abilities.
The Protective Layers Around Your Brain
Your brain controls every voluntary and involuntary response in your entire body. Some of these require conscious thought, like fanning your face with your hand when you feel warm. Many others happen automatically, including prompting the sweat glands to produce sweat as your temperature rises.
Without your brain, your heart, lungs, and other vital body functions would cease. Your body has developed several protective mechanisms to prevent your brain from injury.
Your skull acts as a helmet, protecting your brain from impacts. Three tough layers of membranes called meninges surround your brain and spinal canal to cushion them and shield them from harmful bacteria. The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) fills the meninges and further slows the movement of the brain and spinal cord to prevent it from bumping against anything.
How Concussions Happen
The word “concussion” comes from the Latin word for “shake.” Concussions happen when the brain gets shaken inside the skull.
When your brain shakes, the meninges, and CSF resist the motion to try to hold it away from the skull. This pressure prevents a severe injury called a cerebral contusion. This injury happens when your brain hits the inside of your skull and develops a bruise. The bleeding that produces the bruise can lead to permanent brain damage, coma, or death.
Although the pressure of the meninges and CSF on the brain prevent a cerebral contusion, it can cause a milder form of injury. The pressure caused when the brain rattles around in the CSF and bumps into the meninges can damage brain cells.
In response to the damage, the body triggers an inflammatory response. Inflammation in the brain causes swelling and fever. These changes in the brain produce the physical, mental, and behavioral effects you experience as concussion symptoms.
The pressure that causes concussions happens in a few ways, including:
When you hit your head, your brain shifts toward the impact point. The meninges and CSF push back on the brain, damaging the brain cells. For example, in a slip and fall accident, your feet slide forward, and you fall back, hitting the back of your head on the ground. The brain keeps moving backward after your head stops, generating the forces that cause a concussion.
Acceleration and deceleration produce forces on your brain. As your brain rattles inside the skull, the membranes and fluid cushioning the brain resist its movement. A common cause of this type of injury is car accidents. As your body whips back and forth, the brain shakes, producing the damage that triggers brain inflammation.
Explosions generate blast waves. The wave squeezes the skull and pressurizes the CSF. The pressurized CSF squeezes the brain, damaging it and causing it to swell. Explosions can affect combat soldiers and victims of terrorist attacks. They can also affect people in accidental blasts like gas explosions and workers exposed to explosions in workplace accidents.
Concussion Severity Rating
The symptoms you experience will depend largely on the severity of your injury. Doctors and EMTs rate the severity of a concussion using systems such as the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). This rating system uses three responses to create an aggregate score. The three responses include:
The eye-opening response measures how and when you open your eyes after your injury. If you lose consciousness, even briefly, you score low on this response. If you open your eyes but only in response to sound or touch, you get a moderate score on this response. You score high on this response when you open your eyes spontaneously or never black out.
The motor response measures your ability to move after your injury. You get a low score if you cannot move. You get a moderate score if you can move in response to pressure. If you can move normally, you get a high score.
After a concussion, doctors and EMTs will ask you questions. They do this to determine your cognitive and verbal abilities.
Some questions health care providers may ask include the following:
- What’s your name?
- Do you know where you are?
- What happened to you?
- What is today’s date?
You score low if you cannot speak or can only produce sounds. You get a moderate score when you can form words, but the words are incoherent. You receive a high score when you can answer coherently, even if you give wrong or confused answers.
Some of your symptoms will appear immediately. But your symptoms will change, appear, or disappear over the hours and days after your injury as your brain swells. The symptoms you experience may affect you physically, cognitively, and emotionally.
Physical symptoms you might experience include:
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Ringing ears
Concussions can also affect your ability to think.
Cognitive symptoms caused by concussions include:
- Brain fog
- Inability to concentrate
Some concussion victims also experience symptoms that affect their behavior and emotions.
Examples of these symptoms include:
- Angry outbursts
Your concussion symptoms should clear up within two months. If they last longer, you should consider speaking to a physician about a possible post-concussion syndrome.
Can I Get Compensation for a Concussion Injury?
You can pursue injury compensation for concussions that result from someone else’s intentional or negligent actions. In an injury claim, you can recover compensation for your economic and non-economic losses.
Economic losses include the financial costs of your injury, such as your medical costs, wage losses, and diminished earning capacity. You prove these losses using financial records and pay stubs.
Non-economic losses include the human costs of your injury. Examples of these losses include physical pain, mental suffering, emotional distress, and disability. A claims adjuster or jury assigns a fair value to these losses based on the impact of the injuries on your life.
Contact a Lafayette, LA Personal Injury Attorney for Help with Your Concussion Injury
Concussion injuries can disable you physically, cognitively, and emotionally. Contact the law office of Kenny Habetz Injury Law at (337) 399-9000 for a free consultation to discuss your brain injury and the compensation you can seek for its effects.