Ignoring Symptoms of a Concussion Can Have Lasting Consequences

Man sitting with his back to the camera, his hands are on his head. The room is spinning in the background.

A concussion can be a perplexing injury. It cannot be seen on a regular X-ray. Typically, brain scans are not helpful. A CT scan can create an image of the brain and reveal bleeding or fractures of the skull. However, it cannot show if someone has suffered a concussion unless it is severe enough to cause structural changes in the brain. An MRI can create a clear image of brain tissue and is helpful for diagnosing structural damage but often cannot be used to detect persistent symptoms three months or more after a head injury, known as post-concussion syndrome.

Each year about 200,000 Canadians are diagnosed with a concussion, according to Brain Injury Canada (BIC). However, the organization states that it can be difficult to gather accurate statistics since they must rely on hospital and doctor reporting. Many brain injuries are not reported at the time of injury, or at all.

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury

Any trauma to the face, head, or neck, or a blow to the body that jolts your head could cause your brain to bounce around or twist in the skull. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury and can lead to a variety of short or long-term effects.

Because brain injuries differ from person to person, you will not always experience the same effects as someone else, BIC reports. With proper care, you can expect a full recovery. However, if treatment is mismanaged, it could lead to cognitive impairments that can impact the rest of your life.

You can be concussed after being injured in an automobile accident, in a slip-and-fall, while participating in a sporting event or while cycling. There may not be any obvious indications of an injury and you may believe it is just a bump on the head. You could look dazed and feel confused, like you were in a fog. You may have a delayed response to questions or have little memory of the injury.

Physical and cognitive signs and symptoms of a concussion can include:

  • headache;
  • blurry vision or vision changes;
  • dizziness;
  • slurred speech;
  • nausea or vomiting;
  • ringing in the ears;
  • sensitivity to light or noise;
  • drowsiness or fatigue;
  • sleep disturbance;
  • trouble with smell or taste;
  • difficulty focusing or remembering; and
  • problems finding your words or thinking clearly.

The vast majority recover within a few weeks

Many concussions are referred to as “mild” brain injuries because they are typically not life-threatening. Symptoms of a Grade 1 concussion include symptoms that last less than 15 minutes with no loss of consciousness. A Grade 2 concussion is considered moderate with symptoms that last longer than 15 minutes and involve no loss of consciousness. A Grade 3 concussion is considered severe, and a person would lose consciousness.

The vast majority of people who are concussed tend to recover within a few weeks. However, for others, symptoms can be late onset. It is not uncommon to go weeks or months without really feeling any serious after-effects before health issues suddenly arise. This can present problems if symptoms prevent someone from working or enjoying life as they once had.

It is not unusual for someone who suffers from a concussion to minimize the injury. They might not even mention it. Especially where symptoms are late onset. There can be a tendency to blame what they are experiencing on other factors or issues. Someone may suffer from bouts of nausea weeks after a blow to the head. Could it be a concussion? Could it be some bad sushi? That dull, chronic headache could be ascribed to stress as opposed to a head injury.

See a doctor

If you suspect you have been concussed, even if your injuries appear minor, you should report it to a doctor and seek the appropriate treatment. Unless it is a serious injury, a doctor is unlikely to recommend an MRI and suggest getting rest and monitoring your symptoms. That is why it is essential to be proactive after suffering a concussion.

Because the effects of a concussion may not manifest for weeks or months, it is advisable to keep track of how you are feeling in the weeks after a blow to the head or body. You might also consider keeping a journal. This can help you claim insurance benefits later down the line or if you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit.

You may be entitled to compensation

Depending on how you suffered your injury, you may be entitled to compensation to cover health care costs, therapy, lost wages or damages for pain and suffering. This is where monitoring your symptoms becomes imperative. Let’s say you don’t really notice symptoms for a year. Then you begin to experience the effects of a concussion. The passage of time can make it more difficult to prove a link between your accident and your injury. Unless you have been reporting concussion symptoms to your doctor and monitoring your health, it may end up being your word against someone else's.

Remember too, there is a time limit when it comes to making a legal claim. In Ontario, if you have been hurt, you have two years from the date of the accident to initiate legal action.

We are here to listen

You should never take chances with your health. It affects so much of your life, including your work, your relationships with friends and family as well as your happiness. After you have received treatment for your concussion you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can guide you through the legal process. Contact us at Gluckstein Lawyers. Our clients' well-being is paramount, and we operate by anticipating your needs, understanding your worries and keeping your interests top of mind. Your initial meeting is free and without obligation on your part and we do not charge you legal fees until your claim is settled. You may not decide to file a claim, but we can advise you what steps to take in case you change your mind.


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