Everyone is familiar with concussions, yet most people assume that unless they experience unconsciousness or immediate disorientation, that they do not have a head injury. Concussions and head injuries can be very serious. A concussion is a type of brain injury. It’s when the brain receives trauma from impact, sudden momentum, or movement change. If during an accident the head is jolted suddenly, with or without impact on an object, or if there is a strike to the head, medical attention should be sought immediately to rule out a concussion.
Yes. The sudden stop of a collision, not to mention the possible impact from a steering wheel, dashboard, window or other item in the car, can certainly result in a concussion injury. Regardless of how the injury occurs, the symptoms for a concussion are generally the same.
While many head injuries are immediately recognizable, some can be much more subtle. These symptoms may not appear for hours or days following the accident.
Most minor head injuries will heal on their own, but the symptoms recede gradually. More than half of all people with a minor head injury still experience symptoms a week after the injury. The good news is, more than 80 percent recover within a month. A small percentage of patients have symptoms that last longer than six weeks, at which point they are diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome.
Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS) describes when concussion symptoms persist beyond a typical length of time for recovery, usually about two months. Some concussion symptoms will go away within two weeks, and with care some people experience a decrease in symptoms within a month.
When concussion symptoms last longer than two months, a doctor may evaluate a patient for PCS. Patients with PCS may only experience symptoms during rigorous cognitive or physical activity, or when they are at rest. The symptoms may be mild or severe enough to limit their ability to work and live normally.
Car accidents can be a frightening experience, but if you know which symptoms to look out for and what conditions that may result in silent symptoms, then you’re already one step ahead of the game. Getting a complete medical evaluation as soon as possible will help you in the long run.
If you or a loved one is experiencing concussion symptoms after a car accident, we encourage you to schedule an appointment.
Treatment depends on the type and severity of symptoms. A patient may receive separate treatments for mental or emotional symptoms and physical ones. Your doctor will help you develop a specific treatment plan for you.
Rest, physical and mental, is critical after a concussion injury. Rest helps the brain to heal. Take your time, don’t push yourself too hard, and acknowledge that healing is a process. You should resume your normal routine and activities only when your symptoms abate and your doctor approves. If you find an activity results in your symptoms returning, stop the activity and tell your doctor. It may be a sign that you’re trying to do too much too soon.