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Concussion vs. Post-Concussion Syndrome

Feb 28, 2020 Brain Injuries, Catastrophic Personal Injury

Head injuries are common in car crashes, and many victims experience neurological issues. Sometimes these are persistent; sometimes they are temporary. But even a mild head injury can force victims to withdraw from regular day-to-day activities like driving, working, or socializing.

There are a variety of terms used to describe head injuries and their symptoms. The most common of these are “traumatic brain injuries,” “concussions,” and “post-concussion syndrome.” Understanding the differences between these terms can be confusing for victims and their families.

In this article, we’ll explain the difference between a concussion and post-concussion syndrome. We will also describe how these injuries can affect individuals involved in personal injury claims.

Key Definitions

  • Traumatic Brain Injury: A blow, jolt, or penetration to the head resulting in swelling, bleeding, and other brain damage.
  • Concussion: A mild traumatic brain injury. Symptoms are typically not life-threatening and resolve within a month.
  • Post-Concussion Syndrome: A condition in which concussion symptoms persist after the brain has healed.

Concussions Are a Type of Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injuries: What Victims Need to Know

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A concussion is a mild head injury caused by a blow or jolt to the head that results in damage to the brain. In medicine, concussions are often called mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI). Telling a patient that they have a mild TBI can be alarming, so doctors often use the term “concussion.”

“Common causes of concussions include a child falling off their bike, two athletes striking their heads together, or a rear-end car collision — just to name a few possibilities.”

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury to your head or upper torso, please be aware of the following immediate signs of a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury.

  • Loss of consciousness under 30 minutes
  • Temporary inability to remember post-crash events (anterograde amnesia)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches, blurred vision, and dizziness
  • Confusion and disorientation

What Is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Most patients suffering from an mTBI recover completely within three months of suffering the initial injury, and most of their symptoms resolve within one month. However, more than 30% of concussion victims experience symptoms that persist beyond six months.

When victims experience concussion-like symptoms for longer than a month, a doctor might diagnose them with post-concussion syndrome (PCS). PCS is the occurrence of concussion symptoms long after the victim sustained the initial head injury.

Persistent Concussion Symptoms in Post-Concussion Syndrome

The symptoms of PCS are often the same as those that occur in the first few weeks after a concussion. The difference is that the symptoms persist past the point the victim should have recovered from a concussion.

These symptoms often include:

  • Headaches, blurred vision, and dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Irritability or moodiness
  • Anxiety
  • Ringing ears
  • Difficulty concentrating

Common Risk Factors of Post-Concussion Syndrome

While the specific reason that only some mTBI victims experience post-concussion syndrome is yet unknown, neurologists have identified a few common traits and risk factors.

Studies have shown that many victims with PCS:

  • Experienced a more severe initial head injury
  • Tend to be older adults and female
  • Have pre-existing psychological issues
  • Have a history of migraines or neurological issues
  • Suffered previous head injuries

The Life Effects of Concussions and Post-Concussion Syndrome

Living With a Traumatic Brain Injury After a Car Crash

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The primary difference between a concussion and post-concussion syndrome is the duration of the symptoms. As such, the effect these two conditions can have on a crash victim is quite similar. Both conditions can cause significant physical, psychological, and financial hardships. The burden of these hardships tends to accumulate the longer the symptoms persist, taking additional tolls on the victim’s health and quality of life.

For instance, the cognitive and emotional side effects of a mild traumatic brain injury can make working difficult or impossible. The longer the victim is out of work, the more financial burden they experience, increasing their psychological symptoms — such as anxiety, depression, or irritability.

3 Ways to Improve Outcomes After Suffering a Concussion

1. See a Doctor Immediately

You should always see a doctor immediately after a car crash, especially if you are experiencing any signs of a head injury. However, doctors can sometimes overlook or underestimate a brain injury.

For example, a doctor might diagnose you with a concussion and send you home with orders to take it easy for a few days. If your symptoms worsen or persist for several weeks, you should return to your doctor. They might then diagnose you with post-concussion syndrome or refer you to a specialist for more testing.

2. Consult a Neuropsychologist

If you’re struggling to cope with the side effects of a mild traumatic brain injury, a neuropsychologist might be able to help. Neuropsychologists specialize in how brain injuries or degenerative conditions relate to cognition and behavior. A neuropsychologist can determine how severe your injury is and how it will affect your nervous system. After they evaluate your condition, they’ll be able to offer suggestions for treatment and coping strategies — whether your condition is temporary or permanent.

3. Work With an Experienced TBI Attorney

The physical, emotional, and financial toll of a traumatic brain injury can be extensive. If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI after being the victim of a car crash or other personal injury incident, you’ll want to file a personal injury claim to recover financial compensation.

TBI cases can be complex due to the difficulty of proving the existence of a brain injury and calculating how the injury will affect your life moving forward. Therefore, it’s crucial that you hire an attorney with experience — not just in car accident personal injury claims — but in brain injury claims as well.

Contact the Experienced TBI Attorneys at Crosley Law

We Can Help

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At Crosley Law, we understand the difficulties and nuances of brain injury cases and how to explain and support these claims in court. Our attorneys have experience and knowledge of complex medical fields like neuroradiology, neuropsychology, and neurology. Due to our recognized expertise in traumatic brain injury litigation, other lawyers frequently refer brain injury victims to our firm.

Additionally, we regularly work with doctors and specialists on the cutting edge of neuroscience to prove our clients’ injuries and the impact their condition will have on their life and wellbeing in the future. We can even help clients get the treatment and rehabilitation they need.

If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion or other traumatic brain injury after a car crash, contact the attorneys at Crosley Law. Call us at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or complete this brief online contact form to get started today.

References

Mayo Clinic Staff. (28 July, 2017). Post-concussion syndrome. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-concussion-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20353352

Sharp, D.J., & Jenkins, P.O. (14 May, 2015). Concussion is confusing us all. Practical Neurology, vol15(3), 172-186. doi:10.1136/practneurol-2015-001170. Retrieved from https://pn.bmj.com/content/15/3/172.full

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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