September 20, 2019 has been recognized as “National Concussion Awareness Day.” This event, held annually on the third Friday of September, was founded by 19-year-old Brooke Mills, who suffered a concussion during gym class while a freshman in high school. The event seeks to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury, commonly referred to as a concussion.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a concussion as a traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain.
It is not always immediately apparent that an individual has sustained a concussion. While there may sometimes be signs of injury to the head, such as bruising or cuts, in other cases there may be no visible injury. Furthermore, contrary to some conventional belief, an individual does not necessarily lose consciousness after suffering a concussion.
Motor vehicle accidents, falls, and sports injuries are all common causes of concussions. There are numerous symptoms of concussion, including headache, confusion, difficulty remembering or concentrating, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting, sleep disturbance, blurred vision or light sensitivity, and many more.
Health care professionals recommend that individuals who have experienced a blow or jolt to the head, and experience any of these symptoms, seek medical treatment. Fortunately, the Brain Injury Association of America reports that most individuals can expect their post-concussive symptoms to improve after two to three weeks with rest.
Some patients, however, experience ongoing problems, which are referred to as post-concussion syndrome. Post-concussion syndrome can last months or even years. For individuals struggling with persistent symptoms, it is important to obtain referrals to qualified specialists for management of their symptoms.
In our practice representing victims of automobile accidents, we regularly have clients who have sustained a concussion from the force of the impact, whether they actually struck their head within the vehicle or were jolted in such as way as to cause brain injury. Some of our clients experience post-concussive syndrome when their symptoms such as confusion, headache or sleeplessness persist for an extended period of time.
Because a concussion and its symptoms are often “invisible”—meaning there is no objective study to prove the extent of the brain injury—insurance companies often try to discount the significance of the injury or its duration. In these situations, it is especially important to have an attorney experienced in handling cases where the individual has suffered a concussion in an automobile collision, but may not have outwardly visible signs of injury.
To read more about the symptoms and treatment of concussions, visit the Brain Injury Association of America at biausa.org, or Lessen the Impact at lessentheimpact.org. Or, to learn ways you can participate in “National Concussion Awareness Day” by hosting an information table or fundraiser, visit nationalconcussionday.com for a variety of resources.