Over the past few years concussions have become more thoroughly researched and studied than ever before. The NFL has made a strong push for medical exploration on head injuries, including concussions, and has donated millions of dollars for this research. A lot of research focuses on the long-term effects of brain injuries on the players. This is relevant to our business here at Mahaney & Pappas because with all the accident cases we handle, we see our share of head injuries and concussions. For instance, people can strike their heads in car accidents, slip and falls, or in work accidents. Striking their head can cause a traumatic brain injury or a concussion. In the course of concussion research and treatment doctors have been paying more attention to post-concussion syndrome.
What is a Concussion?
We have previously discussed traumatic brain injury (TBI), such as a concussion. Generally, a concussion is considered a mild TBI, but the effects from a concussion can be rather serious. A concussion is caused by a strike or jolt to the head that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This rapid movement can cause the brain to strike the skull damaging the brain cells. The damage can sometimes cause chemical changes in the brain.
What are Symptoms of a Concussion?
When someone sustains a concussion, they might immediately or shortly after suffering a head injury experience headaches, pressure in their head, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, or amnesia. Not everyone loses consciousness after suffering a head injury, which makes a concussion sometimes difficult to diagnose. Some people try to shrug off the symptoms and disregard them. It is best to see a medical professional in you experience any of these symptoms after an accident where you strike your head.
What is Post-Concussion Syndrome?
Post-concussion syndrome (or sometimes referred to as post-concussive syndrome) is a medical condition in which a patient’s concussion symptoms continue or last for weeks, months, or in some situations for a year or more after the injury. With post-concussion syndrome the above mentioned symptoms of a concussion are usually present and persist for a while after the accident. With post-concussion syndrome, an accident victim may experience other symptoms, such as concentration problems, irritability, sensitivity to light, sleep disturbances, and depression. Sometimes these symptoms may be delayed in onset for hours or even days. These symptoms can be extremely debilitating and frequently interfere with normal daily activities and the ability to work.
Post-Concussion Syndrome in Personal Injury Cases
A concussion is a personal injury. If someone suffers a concussion in an accident that was caused by someone’s negligence, then the accident victim can file a claim for bodily injury against the negligent person or persons. Concussions are a little bit more difficult to deal with in a personal injury claim. This is because insurance companies sometimes do not place much value on a concussion where the accident victim suffers from headaches and other relatively minor symptoms for a short period of time. Cases are different, however, when an accident victim suffers a concussion and then develops post-concussion syndrome. The post-concussion syndrome symptoms are much more severe and really cause greater suffering. These symptoms sometimes prevent the victim from working, which creates a claim for lost wages or, if the accident happened on the job, the need to file workers compensation claim for disability benefits.
The important thing to remember in a personal injury case where someone sufferes a concussion and then experiences symptoms for weeks, months or longer, is that they must see a doctor. The insurance companies are not going to take the injured person’s word for it that they are injured and suffered as a result. The injury and symptoms must be documented by a doctor in the medical records.
Our office has handled numerous cases in which clients have been injured in accidents and suffered concussions. In one specific case, our client was injured in a car accident, transported by ambulance to the emergency room, and diagnosed with a concussion. This client experienced severe symptoms, which persisted for months after the accident. The client was referred to a neurologist, who diagnosed our client with postconcussive syndrome because the client continued to be symptomatic for months after the injury. The symptoms this individual suffered from was severe headaches, insomnia, depression, and forgetfulness. The neurologist ran a serious of tests and confirmed the diagnosis. The client continued to follow up with the neurologist for more than a year. In this specific case the insurance company for the negligent driver accepted the neurologist’s findings and agreed to pay our client the insurance policy limits.