A concussion is a type of traumatic head injury that damages the brain. Sudden hits, blows, or jolts to the head can cause concussions, as can the kinds of bodily injuries that cause whiplash. The most common causes are falling and motor vehicle collisions.
Concussions can permanently damage the brain’s tissues and cause physical, metabolic and chemical changes to it. These changes adversely affect the brain’s ability to operate properly cognitively an emotionally and e en to control the bodily functions. Concussions…even those termed as “mild”…can be life-altering.
The diagnosis is likely to be something like a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion. Unfortunately, after a time, the injury may prove to be not so “mild” at all nor the impact of the concussion merely temporary.
What Causes a Delayed Concussion
The concussion isn’t really delayed, of course; it’s the symptoms that may show up gradually. Symptoms can also appear and disappear. Sometimes they never go away even after treatment.
Classic immediate symptoms of concussions often include things like:
- Loss of balance
- Brief loss of consciousness
- Neck Pain
Most of these symptoms often improve with time. Some come on promptly after the injury and go away promptly as well.
Common Delayed Concussion Symptoms
The delayed or persistent post-concussive symptoms can be somewhat different than the immediate symptoms. Even where the delayed symptoms are similar to initial symptoms, the quality or severity of the symptoms may differ significantly. Thus, the headaches that persist after a concussion may feel like migraines or tension headaches rather than the physical pain at the injury site felt immediately after a blow to the head.
Those who sustain concussions may as if they are spinning around or that things are spinning around them. They may be lightheaded or faint. They may even become clumsy.
Concussion patients may also become more irritable or experience frequent or sudden mood swings. Neuroscientists and doctors call this “emotional lability.”
A concussion can affect fuel delivery through the brain, and that can contribute to feelings of fatigue. In addition, the injury may interfere with hormone production in the brain, which can also lead to feeling tired.
- Loss of memory or ability to concentrate – the victim may not be able to remember what happened before or after the injury and may have trouble concentrating on tasks.
- Changes in sleep patterns – victims sometimes experience either insomnia or a struggle to stay awake at all. Victims often feel excessively sleepy in the first week or so following a concussion. However, this sleepiness often transitions to insomnia or early waking two to three weeks after the injury, which may exacerbate the existing feelings of fatigue.
- Sensitivity to sound or light; blurred or double vision – a large number of victims develop a painful sensitivity to light after a concussion. Symptoms of the sensitivity include squinting, eye pain, eyestrain, and visual fatigue. The blurred or double vision often experienced may come from damage to the muscle around the eyes, making it difficult to align the eyes. The vision problems may also lead to vertigo, general fatigue, and difficulty in concentrating.
- Changes to senses of smell or taste – as many as one-fourth of concussion victims report changes in their sense of taste or smell after a conclusion. Generally, the loss of the sense of smell causes the loss of the sense of taste. Damage to the olfactory nerve, which carries scent from the nose to the brain and is at high risk of a concussion, could be the cause.
Causes of Delayed Concussion Symptoms
Many of the most common delayed symptoms are similar to those suffering from mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Experts disagree about whether the delayed symptoms result from physical damage to the brain itself, causing disruptions of its functions, or from psychological factors. Whatever the cause, delayed symptoms are generally more common in those who already suffer from one or more of these mood disorders.
Other Risk Factors
In addition to a pre-existing mood disorder, more common risks for delayed concussion symptoms are:
- Age – older concussion victims develop delayed symptoms more often than younger victims.
- Gender – Doctors diagnose delayed concussion symptoms more frequently in women. It isn’t clear whether this is because they occur more often or because more women seek medical care for the symptoms.
- History of prior concussion – The risk of a second or later concussion almost doubles after the first.
Prevention of Delayed Concussion Symptoms
The only sure way to prevent delayed concussion symptoms is to avoid the concussion in the first place. In other words, take precautions to prevent head injuries.
Fasten your seat belt when driving or a passenger; make sure your children use seat belts in or appropriate safety seats, preferably in the back. Wear helmets for whatever sports or risky activity you engage in or play. Ensure that your children do, too. Helmets prevent or lessen the severity of injuries on bicycles, roller skates, skis, skateboards, snowboards, horses, and motorcycles. They also prevent injuries in sports like baseball, football, skating, skiing, and racing.
It is also worthwhile to look around your home for fall hazards. Poor lighting, lack of handrails, cracked or broken sidewalks, and small slippery throw rugs can all lead to falls that can lead to concussions.
Consider Seeking Medical Help
Always seek medical treatment for a head injury, even if the initial symptoms seem mild. Even if the victim is only slightly dizzy for a brief period, has a treatable headache, or is a bit dazed or nauseous, get medical help. Those symptoms may indicate a more serious underlying condition. Moreover, the medical diagnosis will help your legal claim.
More severe symptoms should call for medical attention sooner rather than later. Also, if you have had an operation on your brain or are taking a blood thinner, a medical professional should immediately treat any head injury.
Some of these more serious issues include:
A period of unconsciousness
- Significant memory problems
- Headaches that linger and don’t respond to painkillers
- Behavior or mood changes
- Being under the influence when the injury occurred
- Vision problems
- Fluid or blood coming from the nose or ears
For any of these, seek urgent or emergency room care as quickly as possible.
Considering Seeking Legal Help
Any traumatic brain injury can lead to life-altering and lasting injuries. In the end, consider whether you will need to consult a brain injury lawyer to assist in dealing with the consequences of the concussion.