Auto Accident Concussions
Auto Accident Concussions are very serious injuries that are often missed. A concussion can occur from a direct blow to the head (from striking the steering wheel, windshield, dash, headrest, etc.). This is called “coup” and can result in bruising or swelling of the brain. It is very serious and could potentially lead to permanent injury or even death. There is another type however that can happen without actually hitting the head on anything. If the head suddenly changes direction (as in whiplash) the brain may still be moving inside the skull. When the skull suddenly reverses direction, the momentum of the brain continues to move it forward until it hits the inside of the skull. This is called “counter coup.” In this case, the head didn’t hit anything, but the brain still bounced off the inside of the skull and can have the same types of injuries as a direct blow to the head. It can cause bleeding in the brain or swelling.
Concussions are so serious, that many sports will not let a player suspected of suffering a concussion, return without a doctor’s clearance. There is a potential for a repeat injury (called Second Impact Syndrome) that has claimed the lives of several athletes each year. This can occur even if the person looks or feels “OK” but gets hit again too soon. This is why many NFL players have to sit out several games, even though the team has paid millions of dollars for them to play. If there is swelling of the brain or a small hemorrhage, it could be life threatening. If you suspect you or a friend have sustained a auto accident concussion, seek immediate medical attention. It is better to be safe than sorry. Natasha Richardson, the wife of famed actor Liam Neeson, died when she had what seemed like a minor fall while skiing. This caused some epidural bleeding and led to her tragic death. She had a slight headache that started getting worse. By the time they realized how serious it was, it was too late. Try to avoid sudden movements, as this may cause more damage.
Some of the possible symptoms of auto accident concussions are:
- Hearing loss/ ringing in ears
- Visual changes (Seeing stars, spots, flashing lights, double vision)
- Feeling “dinged,” foggy, stunned, dazed
- Loss of balance
- Loss of consciousness
- Irritability or emotional changes
- Poor concentration
Presence of these symptoms should be a warning to keep an eye on the individual or seek immediate medical attention. There are many grades of concussion based on severity, but always error on the side of caution to avoid tragic consequences.