The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) identify concussions as a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). The actions that cause the concussion (bumps, blows, jolts to the head or body) “cause the brain to bounce around inside the skull, which causes chemical changes in the brain and damages brain cells. These changes may affect how a person thinks, learns, feels, acts, and sleeps.” (Source: CDC-Mild TBI and Concussion)
Remember, just because your concussion is labeled “mild” does not mean you shouldn’t take it very seriously. TBI is still a major cause of death and disability. The human brain weighs in at just 3 pounds, yet it controls almost everything you do. It’s a very powerful organ, but it’s also extremely vulnerable.
Don’t ignore symptoms of a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) after a car accident. While the injuries may be “invisible” the effects of not identifying & treating injuries to the brain can be seen for the rest of your life.
Have you been diagnosed with a concussion from a car accident (or are you unsure if you might have a concussion)?
How do you get a concussion from a motor vehicle accident?
This type of injury can happen during car accidents when there is direct impact to the head; or by acceleration-deceleration, which is when the head moves forward then backward so forcefully it causes the brain to crash into the front of the skull and sometimes into the back of the skull when it changes direction. This causes bruising, bleeding and/or swelling (which causes pressure in the skull).
Are concussions from car accidents common?
The leading cause for this injury (also referred to as mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI’s) is “Falls”. Motor Vehicle related concussions come in second (17.3%), and are the largest percentage of TBI-related deaths.
What are some symptoms?
· Memory Loss
· Balance Issues
· Visual Processing Problems
· Sleep Disruptions / changes
· Difficulty Focusing
· Ringing in the ears
· Altered sense of taste and/or smell
· Hormonal Changes
· Sensitivity to light, sound & movement
*This is not an exhaustive list – and some symptoms may not appear for several days or more following the accident.
How long is recovery?
Injuries like concussions are often called “invisible injuries” because you can’t see them like you can a broken leg, or lacerations. Brain swelling isn’t like ankle swelling – a head injury isn’t usually wrapped with a bandage or given a cast like a broken arm. When it comes to healing, it’s also difficult to know. Feeling better, or having improved symptoms doesn’t always mean your brain has completely healed.
Some concussion myths debunked:
MYTH – If you don’t lose consciousness, you don’t have a concussion.
FACT – Fewer than 10% of concussions occur with a loss of consciousness
MYTH – All concussions are the same for everyone.
FACT – Even if you’ve had a concussion before, the next one could have completely different symptoms and take a longer amount of time for recovery.
MYTH – Symptoms of a concussion appear right after the car accident.
FACT – According to the Mayo Clinic, concussion symptoms can be delayed for hours or days after the injury.
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