Super Bowl 50 is around the corner, and with it comes news and evidence of players receiving concussions. It’s great to know that someone coming in for a helmet-to-helmet block is going to pay a penalty for it, but not so great when you think about the consequence of such blunt force trauma. Anytime a skull comes into contact with something hard and fast - a helmet, a windshield, a road surface - there's an immediate danger of the brain getting temporarily damaged. The more we learn about head injuries, the more we see how dangerous they are.
Long gone are the days when the diagnosis of a concussion meant someone had to be knocked out. In fact, concussions can be considered mild and still have serious effects.
TBI is responsible for 2.2 million emergency department visits, nearly 300,000 visits to the ER and 50,000 deaths per year. Many of these happen from – you guessed it – car accidents. However, when considering sports injuries, it’s not football that makes up the majority of TBIs – it’s cycling. Not sure if they’re comparing apples to apples, since so many more people bike than play football. Here’s more on that from the NY Times.
There are three categories of symptoms now recognized to comprise a TBI. It’s a complicated process – our brains themselves are very complicated. Not every patient will have every symptom, in other words, but that doesn’t mean that TBI isn’t affecting them.
- Cognitive symptoms: impaired memory, attention, concentration, processing speed, difficulty maintaining focus, problems with encoding information, and auditory processing
- Physical symptoms: headaches, nausea, visual disturbance, fatigue, dizziness, balance problems, sensitivity to loud and or sound
- Emotional symptoms: irritability, depression and personality changes.
Further, having one concussion makes it more likely for another one to occur in the future. This is because of what a concussion is: the brain hits the side of the skull, and creates a soft spot. "This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain," according to the CDC. Sometimes problems don’t manifest immediately, but can compound over time.
Concussive brain injury won’t always be found by CT or MRIs, unfortunately. Neuropsychological tests are the best indicators for TBI.
However, many people who experience a concussion fully recover. It’s critical to find a doctor skilled in diagnosing and treating head injuries. Especially in children, a person’s future may depend on it.
If you were hit in the head in an accident or crash and it was not your fault, you may have a case against whoever is responsible. Bill Coats Law has been handling complex personal injury and car accident cases for decades in Bellingham, negotiating with insurance companies who refuse to play fair. To learn more about TBI, click here: