Latest Research Shows Hidden Dangers of Concussions

When you think of concussions, you might think of football, boxing, hockey, and other contact sports. But motor vehicle crashes, including car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents, as well as bicycle accidents, are a leading cause of concussions. Motor vehicle accident concussions don’t garner the same headlines as sports concussions. Yet they’re every bit as dangerous and deserve the same degree of attention.

No two brains are the same and no two concussions are the same. Your individual experience of a concussion following a motor vehicle accident is a crucial factor in determining the value of your personal injury case.

No Such Thing As a Minor Concussion

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body. It contains approximately one hundred billion nerve cells and controls everything that you do, feel, and experience. The brain is so complex, in fact, that scientists are still struggling to understand exactly how it works. However, researchers are slowly coming around to the understanding that even a relatively minor brain injury, such as what is sometimes  referred to as a “mild” concussion, can cause severe, long-lasting impairments.

Concussions happen when some event causes the brain to strike the inside of the skull, first at the point of impact and then a second time on the opposite side as it “rebounds.” There does not need to be a direct blow to the head for this to occur. In a car accident, for example, sudden deceleration causes a violent back-and-forth head motion that can concuss the brain.

Doctors may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury only because they’re non-life threatening. Even so, the effect of any concussion can be serious.

The leading hypothesis about how concussions harm the brain is that they cause nerve damage. But that is in dispute. New research suggests that concussions may damage the brain’s blood vessels and lymphatic vessels.

Determining how concussions damage the brain is key to understanding why some patients experience long-term consequences. While around 80 percent of concussions resolve within a week or two, with no lasting symptoms, some patients experience persistent symptoms—including headache, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and memory loss—for months or even years. There is also evidence that a single, “mild” concussion can cause permanent brain damage and long-lasting consequences, including an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

“There’s no such thing as a minor concussion,” Dr. Anthony Alessi, a neurologist, told UConn Health Journal. “If you’ve seen one concussion, you’ve seen one concussion. They’re all different.”

An estimated 3.8 million concussions occur each year during competitive sports and recreational activities, but non-sports concussions receive less attention. Motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of non-sports concussions, which often go undiagnosed. Concussion symptoms shouldn’t be downplayed and symptoms that linger should be addressed with a medical professional.  If the concussion was caused by somebody else’s negligence, they should also consider speaking with a personal injury lawyer.

Age and Gender Differences in Concussions

Concussions affect men, women, and children differently.

Adults vs. Children Concussions

  • According to Cornell University, the most common cause of concussions in adults is motor vehicle accidents. For children and teens, it’s sports.
  • Adults tend to have physical concussion symptoms, like headache, balance problems, and fatigue; children are more likely to experience behavioral symptoms such as drowsiness, insomnia, and irritability.
  • Children are more likely than adults to experience post-concussion amnesia, which may relate to the fact that children’s brains are still developing and making connections between cells. This may also explain why children more susceptible to concussions than adults.
  • Although children can take longer to recover from concussions, their brain plasticity, or ability to form new connections, means that most children make a complete recovery without medical intervention.

Men vs. Women Concussions

Research shows that women take longer to recover from concussions, have more severe symptoms, and are more prone to getting concussions than men.

These findings have been documented in comparative studies between concussion rates in male and female sports such as soccer, basketball, and baseball/softball. Dr. Tracey Covassin, who studies concussions in female athletes, has found that women’s symptoms typically last twice as long as men’s. Specifically, women may have neurocognitive impairments (e.g., difficulty remembering and concentrating) that last longer than men.

Male and female concussion differences might have to do with biological gender differences, including female hormonal issues, weaker neck muscles, more breakable brain nerve fibers, and women’s stronger tendency to disclose their concussion-related symptoms. Because concussion risk factors may be based in biology, it stands to reason that other types of activities place women at greater concussion risk. As traditional gender roles break down, more women are participating in activities like motorcycling that were once male-dominated. USA Today recently reported that women now make up 19 percent of motorcycle owners—roughly double the number from a decade ago.

Evaluating a Concussion Personal Injury Case

The growing body of research about concussions has important implications for victims of car accidents, bicycle/motor vehicle crashes, and truck and motorcycle accidents. At best, suffering a concussion in an accident could keep you out of work for a week or two. At worst, you could have lingering symptoms that result in ongoing disability and medical bills.

You might need to undergo expensive imaging tests, attend physical and psychotherapy, and require medications and doctor visits. The costs of medical bills and lost wages can easily spiral into the tens of thousands of dollars. If you are one of the unlucky people who experience long-term concussion symptoms, these costs could reach the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The lifetime costs of treatment for a traumatic brain injury are estimated at $85,000 to $3 million. Adults who suffer a brain injury have an average unemployment rate of 60 percent two years post-injury.

Failure to receive full compensation for your car accident concussion could lead to financial catastrophe. Graham & Graham understands that every person and every concussion is different. We work with experts in the medical field and use the latest concussion research to accurately valuate head injury cases.

Don’t ignore a so-called mild concussion and don’t go it alone if your injury was caused by the negligence of another. Make sure your case receives the attention to detail that it deserves: contact Graham & Graham to schedule a free consultation.

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