A concussion is a type of brain injury that occurs when a blow to the head or a forceful motion jolts the head back and forth. For a concussion to occur, there must be considerable force. A minor bump on the head will not usually result in trauma. Sports, falls, and car accidents are all common causes of concussion in children and adults.
When someone experiences a significant impact to the head, or a violent shaking of the head, that force can lead to serious brain injury. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that results from this type of forceful impact.
To better understand how the brain becomes injured, consider that your brain is the consistency of gelatin. Fluid cushions the brain and protects it from everyday movements. When the head is suddenly pushed in one direction and then the other, the brain slides forcefully against the inner walls of the skull. That type of motion is common in car accidents, where the body is suddenly and forcefully pushed forward and back when the vehicle is hit by another car or slams into an object.
What Are Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion?
Impact of the brain against the skull can lead to bleeding in or around the brain and a range of different symptoms, including:
- Behavioral changes.
- Convulsions or seizures.
- Excessive crying in children.
- Impaired physical coordination.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Memory problems.
- Slurred speech.
- Vision problems.
Concussion symptoms vary in type and severity from person to person. They can manifest immediately after a head injury or develop hours and even days later. Because brain injuries are quite serious, it important to keep a close eye on anyone who has experienced trauma to the head and contact your health care provider about your concerns.
Concussions are fairly common in children in part because they are so active. In younger children, particularly infants and toddlers, head injuries are difficult to diagnose because they cannot explain how they are feeling.
After a car accident or other event where your child may have hit their head, look for a dazed appearance, excessive crankiness, crying, loss of balance, or changes in eating or sleeping habits. Vomiting and/or seizures are also signs of a head injury. Any child showing signs of a concussion should get immediate medical help.
The Link Between Car Accident and Concussions
The CDC reports that car accidents are the second leading cause of concussion and other TBIs, accounting for around one-quarter of all serious head injuries. In most auto crashes, the body is subjected to some form of sudden, violent motion. Even a minor fender-bender can give the body a considerable jolt.
The nature and extent of brain trauma will depend on how impact occurred and if your vehicle is hit from the side, the back, or head-on. That force can cause bruising on the brain itself and damage to the nerves and blood vessels. Because the brain controls all functions, damage will manifest in symptoms across different bodily systems.
Concussions can happen in car accidents when:
- The child strikes their head on the surface of the vehicle.
- The head shakes violently back and forth without striking another surface.
- Defective child seats and/or seat belts fail to properly secure the child in a crash.
- Defective air bags fail to deploy in a collision.
Diagnosing Childhood Concussions
If your child has had a severe blow to the head after a car accident, their health care provider will start by asking them a series of questions to assess their consciousness, concentration, and memory. They may ask their name, what day of the week it is, and where they live.
From there, the doctor conducts a physical exam to evaluate their balance, coordination, and reflexes. Depending on their injury and symptoms, the doctor may also order a CAT scan or MRI to rule out other injuries.
How Are Concussions in Children Treated?
If the child’s concussion is not severe enough to require hospitalization, the doctor will send them home with instructions for their care. Home-care for a concussion often includes:
- Healthy eating: A balanced diet without caffeine is good for brain health.
- Mental rest: Avoiding activities that require thinking, including using technology, schoolwork, and watching television.
- Physical rest: Refraining from sports and other physical activities until further notice to prevent injury and ease stress on the brain.
The doctor will tell the child and their parents when it is safe to gradually reintroduce mental and physical activity.
What Is the Long-Term Prognosis for a Concussion?
While many children recover fairly quickly from a concussion, others may experience symptoms for several weeks after the initial accident.
Post-concussion syndrome is a condition where concussions symptoms last much longer than the typical recovery period of a few weeks up to around months. Children and adults with post-concussive syndrome may experience dizziness, headaches, and memory and concentration changes up to a year or more.
The reasons why concussion symptoms last longer for some children than others are not fully known. However, it is clear that chronic physical and mental changes can have a serious impact on a child’s emotional health and well-being.
How to Prevent Head Injuries in Children?
Proper child safety equipment is the first line of defense against TBIs in children. That includes car seats or booster seats depending on their age, height, and weight, and seat belts used in every position of the vehicle.
Children and adults are more likely to suffer a concussion if they have had one before, so prevention is even more important for children who have had a previous head injury. Repeated concussions can leave the person with long-term damage, so be sure to properly secure your child each and every time they are in the car.
Claims for Car Accident Head Injuries
A concussion can having a lasting impact on a child’s overall health and quality of life. That initial injury can leave children with cognitive delays, mood disorders, pain, and/or emotional trauma. If your child has suffered a TBI in a car accident that could have been prevented, you may have cause to bring a legal claim against the reckless driver.
Beyond the incalculable losses your child may experience after a serious injury, the economic costs of long-term medical care, pain management, and physical therapy can be daunting. A lawyer can help your family recover fair compensation for their losses.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Advocate for Children Injured in Preventable Crashes
Nothing is harder for a parent than seeing their child in pain. If your child was injured in collision that was caused by a reckless driver, speak with one of our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers. East Coast Trial Lawyers will protect your family’s rights. Call us at 757-352-2237 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients in Chesapeake, Eastern Shore, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.