What Is a Concussion, and How Do I Know If I Have One?

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Head injuries can result from a variety of accidents, from motor vehicle collisions to slip and falls. When the head comes into contact with a blunt object, it can cause a jolt, blow, or bump that jars the brain within the skull. This type of traumatic brain injury is called a concussion, and it can lead to brain damage. There are different types of concussions and a wide variety of potential symptoms. Identifying a concussion early can aid the recovery process and reduce the odds of permanent health effects.

Defining a Concussion

Each concussion is different and will affect the victim in a unique way. Traumatic brain injuries have a range of psychological and physical effects and can be difficult to diagnose. While some victims notice concussions right away, others may not realize that they have sustained a concussion for days or weeks after an accident. Visiting a doctor after any incident in which something struck your head is the only way to ensure that you identify a concussion immediately.

Although healthcare professionals describe concussions as “mild” brain injuries, they can result in serious health consequences. Concussions are typically not fatal, but the twisting or bouncing of the brain in the skull can damage the brain cells and change the brain’s chemical makeup. These changes can lead to physical, behavioral, mental, or emotional damages. A concussion can occur when a person falls and hits his or her head, during a car accident, or when an object strikes the skull.

Symptoms of Concussions

Concussions have a variety of potential symptoms. Many victims may simply not feel right and fail to realize that the change is due to a concussion. In other cases, victims may lose consciousness, experience nausea and vomiting, and have gaps in memory. Knowing whether you have a concussion often comes down to a doctor’s diagnosis. There are a few general concussion symptoms, including:

  • Chronic headache or neck pain
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Nausea or urge to vomit
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Gaps in memory, especially directly before or after the incident
  • Feeling dazed or easily confused
  • Unexplained mood changes
  • Problems sleeping

If you experience any of these symptoms or other strange feelings or changes after an accident, you may have a concussion. Based on the victim’s loss of consciousness, memory loss, and loss of balance, the doctor will identify a concussion as mild, moderate, or severe. A mild concussion may result in symptoms that last less than 15 minutes, with no loss of consciousness. Moderate concussions have symptoms that last longer than 15 minutes but still have no lost consciousness. Severe concussions involve loss of consciousness, even if it’s just for a few seconds.

What to Do If You Have a Concussion

Visit a doctor as soon as you suspect that you have a concussion. A doctor will be able to rate your concussion and decide the type of treatment you need. Depending on the severity of your concussion, a doctor may recommend bed rest or a hospital stay until the effects fade. Refrain from physical activities that can put your health at risk. Repeated concussions can cause cumulative damage with devastating consequences, such as brain swelling, permanent disability, and death.

If someone else’s negligence, such as a distracted driver, caused the injury that resulted in your concussion, seek the counsel of a West Virginia accident attorney. Explain the situation and the extent of your injuries to find out if you have grounds for a personal injury case. You may be eligible to receive financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages related to the concussion.