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A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow or a jolt to the head. Concussions are also caused by any rapid movement of the body that causes the head, and subsequently the brain, to move rapidly back and forth. These sudden movements cause the brain to shift and twist around inside the skull and can lead to chemical changes in the brain. Chemical changes can manifest as behavioural changes and they may affect your perception and your mood. A concussion is a common type of injury sustained in a motor vehicle accident.

Symptoms of a concussion may not appear right away; it may take several days or even a couple of weeks before the symptoms of the brain injury begin to manifest. Signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle, and may be missed by patients and physicians alike. It is important to note any changes to your behaviour and to bring up your concerns with a doctor, especially if you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Your doctor may send you for a CT scan or other neuropsychological or neurocognitive tests to determine whether your memory, concentration, or learning abilities have been impacted. Most people with a concussion have one or more of the symptoms listed below:

  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Feeling “slow”
  • Changes to memory and ability to recall information
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light or sounds
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Some of these symptoms may appear right away while others may develop over time. People often don’t recognize or are unwilling to admit that they are having problems with resuming their everyday life following an accident. It is important to address any concerns you may have with your family doctor as ignoring your symptoms or trying to tough it out can often make the situation worse and can lead to permanent brain damage. If you have an ongoing personal injury case, it is important to keep your lawyer aware of your condition and to seek treatment in order to mitigate your injuries.

Many people fully recover after a concussion, but this is dependent upon many factors, such as the severity of the concussion, your age, your health before the concussion, and the steps you take to recover. If you have already had prior concussions, or suffered from a medical condition at the time of your concussion, it may take you longer to recover.

Some things you can do to speed up your recovery include:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Avoiding physically demanding activities
  • Returning to your normal activities gradually and at the pace suggested by your doctor
  • Taking time off work if your doctor advises you to do so
  • Avoiding alcoholic beverages and recreational drugs, as this can slow your recovery and put you at a greater risk of further injury
  • Trying to do one thing at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed
  • Avoiding prolonged screen time early in the recovery process
  • Taking care of your basic needs, such as eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of rest every night

Your family doctor can refer you to a health care provider who has special training when it comes to treating a concussion. The sooner you are able to see a specialist, the quicker you will recover and regain your health. Ensuring proper diagnosis and treatment will also help any case should you be involved in any litigation process.