Can Concussions Cause Permanent Brain Damage?

Model of human brain

Concussions are one of the most common types of head and brain injuries. They are so common, you probably know someone who has had a concussion, or at least heard stories about high school football players getting concussions during a game or practice in your town. Yet, as any neurologist will warn, the commonality of a concussion does not make it any less serious.

In the medical world, there is no such thing as a “mild” concussion. Every concussion, even the first someone suffers, can cause permanent brain damage depending on what parts of the brain are affected and how well that person is able to rest and recover afterward.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is usually caused when the brain knocks against the inside of the skull due to a sudden blow or jolt. As the brain rocks back and forth inside the skull’s protective bone layer, it can bruise or bleed. Internal cranial hemorrhaging can be extremely dangerous if in large amounts or undiagnosed.

Since concussions are caused by the brain being jostled around inside the skull, they are usually diagnosed after someone has been in an auto accident or similar incident, such as slipping and falling down a flight of stairs. Although, contact sports like football are also among the leading causes of concussions in America.

Lingering Symptoms of Concussions

Immediate after suffering a concussion, the patient will often experience a headache, tinnitus, and the urge to vomit, possibly accompanied by dizziness. Initial signs of a concussion should prompt urgent medical attention and the removal of any situations that could further the injury, such as taking a footballer out of the game until they have been medically evaluated.

Lingering symptoms of a concussion – also called post-concussion syndrome – can include:

  • Dizzy spells
  • Chronic migraines
  • Vision and hearing problems
  • Fatigue
  • Risk of seizure or convulsion
  • Speech impediment
  • Difficulty with motor control
  • Unusual and often violent mood swings

Concussion symptoms can take up to a week to clear in some cases. With moderate concussion injuries, the symptoms are expected to last several months, but severe concussions can cause symptoms that last years and years. If proper healing does not take place, then a concussion can be the source of permanent brain damage.

It is important to realize that the dissipation of concussion symptoms does not mean the underlying cause has healed. A patient can experience a lessening of symptoms but still have serious brain injuries, like brain scarring at the concussion site. Follow-up appointments with doctors, neurologists, and other specialists are crucial to better understand when a concussion patient has reached their maximum medical improvement (MMI).

Symptoms of Permanent Brain Damage

It’s really impossible to say exactly what symptoms are a sign of permanent damage. Any symptom can become permanent if your brain injury doesn’t heal all the way. Your symptoms are much more likely to remain if you were unconscious for over an hour. Other symptoms of a severe concussion include:

  • Abnormal CT or MRI

  • A longer period of time of confusion

  • Inability to follow instructions for a long time after regaining consciousness

About 80% of people will have symptoms after any type of concussion, so you shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that you have permanent brain damage just because you are experiencing something out of the ordinary. Even severe symptoms like paralysis can be temporary. At the same time, you shouldn’t ignore symptoms that linger. Experiencing symptoms for longer than a couple of months could potentially be an indication of permanent damage. (Older people on average take longer to recover). It’s very important to consult your doctor if you have any concerns because there is treatment available for certain complications.

Is a Concussion a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

With this knowledge about concussion causes and symptoms, is it safe to say that a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury? Although there is sometimes some argument among medical professionals about this question, the general consensus is that a concussion is a TBI since all brain injuries have the potential to be traumatic if treated incorrectly or left undiagnosed.

Have you suffered a concussion in an accident that was not your fault? After you have seen a medical professional for diagnosis and treatment, call (707) 549-8166 to connect with the Law Offices of J.Chrisp in Northern California. Our attorneys provide steadfast and compassionate representation to the wrongfully injured, which we back with decades of combined legal experience and millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients.

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