How Do I Know if I Suffered a Concussion or Closed-Head Injury?
It’s very common for car accidents or other injury events to cause a concussion. Sometimes concussions are not a permanent injury but more of a short-term problem lasting weeks or months and then clearing up. However, at times traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can cause serious chronic, long-term problems for the person whose brain has been harmed.
A common question that’s asked by our potential clients and their loved ones is how do I know whether or not there was a concussion? Sometimes this isn’t clear from what is told to a person in the emergency room. The three things to look for are as follows:
1. Loss of consciousness or possible loss of consciousness immediately following the event.
Sometimes it’s hard to know if you have suffered a loss of consciousness. After all, you blacked out and, therefore, you aren’t going to remember the moments during which you were knocked out. Normally the way the person knows that they lost consciousness is that they had the sensation of “waking up” at some point shortly after the event. Typically, loss of consciousness is not measured in minutes or hours which is what a coma is. Rather it is a very short period of seconds typically, most of the time 5 seconds and certainly less than 30 seconds.
However, it’s rare that there’s someone right on the scene who knows for sure that the person suffered loss of consciousness “LOC”. So the chart of the emergency medical team or the ambulance or the emergency room doctors will often simply say ‘possible or questionable’ loss of consciousness which means it’s not observed and verified. It doesn’t make it any less true that the person in fact blacked out.
2. The second common change of mental condition which is an indication of a concussion or TBI is a confused or dazed state right after the car wreck or other traumatic event.
This typically involves the person who was involved in the accident acting funny, asking the same question over and over and not being sure what exactly happened to them. Like the loss of consciousness, this is not always observed by another person. Sometimes the family members get to the scene of a car wreck quickly because they were following behind another car or live nearby. They may be out at the crash site within minutes. Under those circumstances they can often tell if there’s been a change in the thinking or mental status of the victim.
In cases that I’ve worked on a young man might repeatedly be going in and out of his car trunk trying to get his tool set for some reason that makes no sense to anyone. This kind of confusion or delirium is a classic symptom of TBI. Again it’s sometimes a matter of luck whether there’s anyone there who sees the person soon enough after they get concussed to observe that they’re acting dazed and confused. Often if it’s a stranger, they won’t really spend enough time talking to the injured person to figure out that they’re acting strangely and they’re thinking isn’t clear. The typical thing is that somebody comes up and just says oh, hey are you okay and the person not wanting to get into it and not really sure how badly hurt they are just says yeah I think I’m okay.
3. The third major kind of symptom that we see in traumatic brain injuries after car accidents and truck accidents is what’s often thought of as traumatic amnesia. This inability to remember what happened or blanking out about the event is a classic TBI symptom. Often in my law practice what we see is a person who remembers stopping at the stop light but doesn’t remember the truck rear-ending them or anything until later either in the hospital or perhaps in the ambulance. This period of forgetfulness or inability to remember what happened can last for minutes or hours or potentially even days in the most severe cases of traumatic brain injury.
If you have suffered a brain injury in a car wreck or another accident, it can be a terrifying experience. See our Virginia brain injury lawyers’ page for more information or call us at (757) 455-0077.