Anderson Injury Lawyers | February 22, 2023 | Brain Injuries
Concussion symptoms result from changes in the brain after a mild traumatic brain injury. Although every concussion progresses differently, you will often have symptoms that appear or disappear for several hours or days after your original accident.
As a result, your doctor might need to monitor you for changes in your concussion symptoms. You might need to rest and refrain from working, particularly if you have a dangerous job. And doctors might not be able to predict your time frame for recovery until after they get a handle on the severity of your concussion.
Potential Causes of Concussions
A concussion happens when an accident jolts your brain, causing trauma. For example, if you hit your head during a slip and fall accident, your brain tissue can get damaged as your brain shifts rapidly in your skull.
But concussions can happen even without head trauma. Violent shaking can rattle your brain inside your skull, causing mild brain damage associated with concussion injuries. You can experience a concussion during a car accident simply due to whiplash without ever hitting your head.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) surrounds your brain to protect it from impacting the inside of your skull. But in cushioning your brain in an accident, the CSF must push against your brain’s surface. This pressure damages or even destroys brain cells.
The body reacts to tissue damage with inflammation. The inflammatory response includes swelling and fever. These changes serve several purposes. The swelling slows circulation in the area. This holds repair cells near the injury and traps any bacteria so they cannot spread infection. Fever kills any microorganisms in the area.
In your brain, these changes can cause physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms.
Common Symptoms of a Concussion
Some symptoms of a concussion begin immediately, such as:
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurry vision
Emergency responders and doctors use a test called the Glasgow Coma Scale to rate concussions and other brain injuries. This rating scale uses three criteria to measure the severity of your concussion. To administer this test, a medical provider will test your eye-opening response, verbal response, and motor response.
With a severe concussion, you could:
- Lack muscle control
- Lose consciousness
- Be unable to respond to questions or answer with sounds rather than words
When you have a moderate concussion, you may:
- Answer questions incoherently
- Relax muscles normally but be unable to flex them
- Open your eyes only in response to sound or touch
After a mild concussion, you will:
- Open your eyes spontaneously
- Flex and relax muscles on command
- Answer questions coherently, even if the answers are incorrect
The severity of your concussion will often determine the symptoms you experience.
Reasons Concussion Symptoms Might Be Delayed
Delayed concussion symptoms are normal. Your symptoms might appear hours or days after your accident due to these factors:
Continued Swelling of Your Brain
After a concussion, your brain will continue to change. Swelling squeezes blood vessels, depriving brain cells of oxygen. And fever can cause brain cells to misfire.
As your brain swells, additional brain areas might get affected. Since each area performs a different function, you will experience new symptoms as your brain continues to swell.
You might sleep well after your accident, but you might experience sleeping disorders in the days after your injury. As your brain continues to change, your sleeping disorders might change, disappear, and reappear.
Delayed Awareness of Symptoms
Some symptoms may only appear delayed because you become aware of them in the days after your accident. For example, you might suffer amnesia immediately after your accident, but you may only become aware of it a few days later when you try to remember something.
This often happens when you suffer a mild concussion. You might think everything is fine because you never lost consciousness after your accident. But in the days after your accident, you might experience brain fog, drowsiness, and other symptoms.
Mental and Emotional Trauma After Your Accident
An accident can cause severe mental and emotional distress. Accidents can even change your brain wiring.
After an accident, your brain reacts to your injury by sharpening its sensitivity to danger. But sometimes, it sharpens too much, producing anxiety states like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When you experience PTSD, minor triggers that remind you of the accident can produce a fight-flight-or-freeze response.
This mental and emotional trauma can produce other new symptoms, including:
- Social isolation
- Inability to focus
- Drug or alcohol use
- Emotional outbursts
These new symptoms can cause your concussion symptoms to persist. Although doctors do not know why it happens, PTSD can cause post-concussion syndrome (PCS), in which concussion symptoms last beyond the normal two months.
How Delayed Concussion Symptoms Can Affect a Personal Injury Claim
Delayed concussion symptoms should not affect your injury claim. When someone becomes liable for an accident, their liability extends to all the losses caused by the accident.
It makes no difference whether these effects appear immediately or later. To get compensation for the injury caused by an accident, you must prove a causal link between the accident and your losses.
Suppose that you suffered a concussion, but the most severe symptoms did not appear until three days after the accident. The at-fault party bears liability for the concussion and its effects if you can prove the accident was both the cause-in-fact and the proximate cause of your brain injury.
A cause-in-fact includes all the events that fall within the sequence of events that led to your accident. A cause-in-fact logically leads to injury.
Proximate cause means that the event could foreseeably lead to an injury. A proximate cause is an event that the at-fault party should have known to be unreasonably dangerous.
When your personal injury lawyer proves these elements, you have established a causal link between the accident and the symptoms you have experienced, regardless of their exact timing. You can then pursue compensation for the losses your symptoms caused.