know that thousands of people suffer concussions each year, and don’t realize
it – because the condition can be hard to diagnose, and because the symptoms
often don’t show up until long after the injury occurs?
result, many people don’t connect their symptoms to their actual cause. And they
fail to get proper medical treatment – or to seek compensation for the
Concussions are traumatic brain injuries caused by a sudden blow to the
head. They can result from sports and recreation
activities, car and bicycle accidents, work-related injuries, slip-and-falls,
and physical assaults.
Common symptoms include confusion, nausea, headaches,
balance problems, dizziness, clumsiness, slurred speech, blurred vision,
sluggishness, sensitivity to light and noise, ringing in the ears, behavioral
or personality changes, concentration difficulties, and memory loss.
Repeated concussions can lead to a
disease called “chronic
traumatic encephalopathy,” which can result in drug or alcohol addiction, acts
of violence, and suicide.
Unfortunately, doctors often
misdiagnose concussions, especially if they don’t see the patient immediately
after an accident has occurred. If they don’t know about a possible head
trauma, they may believe the person’s symptoms are the result of a neurological disorder, balance
problems, depression, or ADHD.
result, if you or a loved one ever experiences a blow to the head, there are
three steps you should take – even if you think that “it’s nothing” and you
feel okay at the time:
any strenuous activity, such as playing sports, immediately. Your brain needs
time to rest.
medical treatment right away. Find out if a concussion occurred, and if so,
what you should do to begin healing.
note of the time and circumstances of the accident. If you’re going to seek
compensation later, you’ll need this information.
recent case, a high school student named Amy Dugan was struck by a ball during
a field hockey game. The coach allegedly made no attempt to determine whether
Amy had suffered a concussion, and kept Amy in the game – despite state
regulations requiring that student athletes be removed from play right away in
these circumstances, and prohibiting them from returning until they are cleared
by a licensed trainer or medical professional.
days later, in another game, Amy hit her head in a collision, and again wasn’t
evaluated or removed from play.
parents sued the school, claiming that Amy’s head trauma caused significant
behavioral symptoms that “changed her life forever.” And a Massachusetts court
allowed the lawsuit to go forward.
have been many similar lawsuits over football injuries, often based on the fact
that a school used outdated safety equipment or didn’t have enough trainers at
another case, an Illinois businessman named James Hausman won significant
compensation after he was struck by an automatic sliding door on a cruise ship.
It turned out the cruise line knew about the malfunctioning door, and hadn’t
taken adequate steps to fix it. Hausman suffered severe post-concussive
symptoms including fatigue, dizziness and social withdrawal, which seriously
damaged his family and work life.
should note that small children can suffer concussions, and these can be even
harder to spot because very young children often can’t fully communicate what
they’re feeling. After a serious fall or other blow to the head, it’s critical
to monitor a young child’s behavior for any changes.
citizens are also at significant risk of a concussion, because they can be
prone to falls. Even worse, these injuries can be overlooked because many
people assume that the common symptoms of a concussion – such as memory
problems, impaired thinking or movement, or trouble
with vision or hearing – are simply signs of growing older. But the real cause
could be a brain injury that resulted from a fall.