A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that results in a temporary loss of brain function. Every car accident victim is at risk for concussions or TBI, particularly children and older adults. A TBI is caused by a blow or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. TBI may range from mild to severe depending on the symptoms.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that millions of traumatic brain injuries occur each year and approximately 15% of all traumatic brain injuries in the US are caused by motor vehicle collisions. Motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of hospitalizations for persons ages 15-44 years of age.
Severe traumatic brain injuries can result in death, unconsciousness, or amnesia, and can lead to a wide range of long and short term issues. However, concussions are the most common form of TBI and are likely the most underreported because the symptoms are not always immediately apparent and many people do not seek appropriate medical attention. A concussion is a mild type of TBI that results in a temporary loss of brain function.
Recovery from concussions varies among individuals, but symptoms may last for weeks or longer. Symptoms of a concussion generally fall into four categories: (1) thinking/remembering (difficulty thinking clearly, feeling slowed down, difficulty concentrating, difficulty remembering new information); (2) physical (headaches, fuzzy or blurry vision, nausea or vomiting early on, dizziness, sensitivity to noise and light, balance problems, feeling tired); (3) emotional/mood (irritability, sadness, more emotional, nervousness or anxiety); and (4) sleep (difficulty sleeping and sleeping more or less than usual).
People with a concussion should be seen by a healthcare professional, who can evaluate a concussion and determine if a referral to a specialist is appropriate. Getting help soon after the injury may help to improve recovery. Healthcare professionals may perform a brain scan or other tests on learning, concentration, or problem-solving abilities to identify the effects of a concussion.
Most people recover from concussions, but it may take a while depending on a number of factors. Some people may have difficulty performing daily activities, going to work, relaxing, and getting along with others. The recovery period may require plenty of sleep and rest, avoiding physical activities such as exercise and housework, avoiding mental activities that require a lot of concentration like doing taxes and balancing the checkbook, and may require time off work.