Petrov Personal Injury Lawyers | October 17, 2023 | Brain Injuries
Concussions are mild brain injuries that happen when the brain shakes inside the skull. They can cause a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional effects. Concussions vary widely from patient to patient, with no two injuries causing symptoms of the same type and severity.
The symptoms of a concussion injury also vary over time. The functional effects you experience immediately after your accident will likely change during the ensuing hours and days. In other words, delayed concussion symptoms happen in almost every case.
What Is a Concussion?
Concussions occur more often than most people realize. Nearly 25% of Americans report having suffered a concussion sometime during their lives. The CDC reported that concussions caused over 214,000 hospitalizations and over 64,000 deaths in 2021.
Your body protects your brain by enclosing it inside your skull and cushioning it with membranes called meninges that hold cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). These layers of protection prevent serious brain injuries. But when you experience powerful forces, the cushioning must exert equally powerful forces to slow and stop the motion of your brain.
The pressure of the CSF and meninges on your brain can damage brain cells called neurons. Anytime your body experiences tissue injuries, it triggers inflammation. The body floods the injured area with immune cells to protect the injured tissue from infection and promote healing. The tissues swell as these cells flow in. Swelling squeezes the veins and prevents outflow.
The injured tissues also increase in temperature. The localized fever kills any pathogens trapped by the swelling.
While the inflammatory response is good at battling infections, it can wreak havoc in the brain. Brain cells require massive amounts of oxygen delivered by the blood. Studies show the brain requires up to 25% of your blood to supply enough oxygen to its cells. When swelling causes blood flow to decrease, your brain cells struggle to perform their necessary functions.
And as your brain increases in temperature, its functions can suffer. Delirium and confusion often characterize high fevers. The low-grade fever that happens when your brain swells after a concussion can also cause cognitive impairments.
Can Concussion Symptoms Be Delayed?
Patients often wonder, “Can concussion symptoms come and go?” The short answer is yes. Changing concussion symptoms is entirely normal and expected. The effects of this injury almost always vary as your brain changes. Specifically, the effects of a concussion will often change as your brain swelling increases or affects new areas.
These changes will continue for hours or even days after you suffer brain trauma.
Some common signs of a delayed concussion can include:
- New symptoms appear
- Existing symptoms disappear
- Symptoms worsen or improve
Concussion symptoms can have physical, cognitive, and emotional effects.
Some common physical symptoms include the following:
- Blurry vision or seeing stars
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and dizziness
The cognitive effects of a concussion can affect your thinking and memory.
Common cognitive symptoms can include:
- Brain fog
- Difficulty concentrating
A concussion can also affect your emotions and behavior.
Emotional and behavioral concussion symptoms can include the following:
- Emotional outbursts
- Sleep disorders
Any of these symptoms can appear after some time. For example, the night of your accident, you might experience delayed vomiting after concussion-related swelling in your brain worsens. However, the most common delayed concussion symptoms usually involve emotions and behavior.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Emotional and behavioral symptoms get delayed for different reasons. You often experience these symptoms as your brain processes what happened to you. The brain re-lives your traumatic incident through flashbacks in an attempt to figure out how to protect you from another injury. As it does, you may develop PTSD in the days, weeks, or even months after your trauma.
PTSD may cause you to experience nightmares that affect your sleep patterns. You might also develop paranoia as you worry about your injury and become preoccupied with avoiding another concussion.
You might also develop anxiety after a concussion. Your brain reacts to life-threatening situations with a “fight-or-flight” response. After suffering a serious injury, your brain might sharpen its sensitivity to try to prevent you from getting injured again. As a result, you might feel perpetually “on edge.” You might react with emotional outbursts to perceived triggers.
All of these symptoms take time to develop. They may appear and disappear as your brain processes what happened. And, if you seek mental health treatment, therapy and counseling might relieve your symptoms.
Getting Compensation For Delayed Concussion Symptoms
Symptoms from a concussion can disable you from working or performing necessary tasks. You can pursue compensation if your concussion results from someone else’s actions. Your compensation should cover all your symptoms, whether they appeared immediately or later. But you must show a causal link between your symptoms and the other party’s actions.
For example, suppose that you experienced PTSD starting a month after suffering a concussion in a car accident. You must prove that the negligent driver’s actions caused your PTSD. You should prepare to show that no intervening events or injuries could have caused it. Testimony from you and an expert witness might prove the link between the crash and your PTSD.
Another consideration raised by delayed concussion symptoms is whether you should wait to start a claim until you know all your symptoms. In most cases, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible after your injury to determine whether you have a valid case.
As your symptoms change, you should talk to your doctor so they get recorded in your medical records. The lawyer can work with your doctors to document your injuries for insurance claims. Your brain typically heals from a concussion within two months. By the time the insurer reviews your claim, you should have medical records that fully document all of your symptoms.
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