CONCUSSION = TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY: LIFELONG CONSEQUENCES
In a split of a second a head trauma can drastically change a person’s life or even end it. A vehicle collision impulse usually lasts about 0.25 second. A concussion, a traumatic brain injury (TBI), occurs when the brain jerks, bounces, shifts, and smashes the skull’s interior. Vehicle collisions cause jolts of the impacted car’s occupants and respective TBI regardless of the pushed vehicle’s travel distance or a blow to the head. Nursing home residents, feeble seniors suffering from dementia and illnesses affecting their mobility and mental acuity, often fall and sustain TBI as well as construction workers who are exposed to a significant risk of head traumas.
Symptoms of TBI / concussion are different for each person and may change during recovery. The main symptoms of a post-incident concussion are usually a headache and dizziness. The Glasgow Coma Scale, one of the criteria used to measure the level of concussion severity, score measured right after the head injury may not be a decisive factor in concussion diagnosis as it changes in time. One does not have to lose consciousness to get a concussion or experience persistent post-concussive symptoms. TBI /concussion symptoms may appear right away, hours or days after the injury. The first emergency visit is just a moment in the victim’s medical history and life. Thus, the emergency room physician’s diagnosis may not be conclusive in establishing the victim’s TBI. CT scan and MRI imaging tests usually do not show concussion but will show the brain bleeding or swelling and the skull’s fractures.
Neither biomechanical engineers nor doctors can precisely determine the magnitude of force applied to the person’s head at the time of the injurious event. In case of a vehicle collision, this would depend on the occupant’s head’s angular and tilting position, neck muscle strength and tensity, speed of the initial whipping movement and rebound, crash-caused distance traveled, pre-existing medical conditions, etc.
Two sequential concussions cause significantly more damage than a single concussion because the second not-even-strong concussion is inflicted before the first concussion is healed. The double jolt often happens when the head rebound follows the initial head’s strike of the seat headrest in the rear-end collision or when the impacted vehicle ricochets into another object.
Since there is no modern medicine cure for TBI, doctors recommend mental and physical rest as the main treatment because it helps the brain to heal and then physical, occupational therapy and psychological or psychiatric support are recommended. TBI damages brain cells, changes chemical interactions, results in a loss of normal brain function and causes lasting or permanent sequelae. Biological and biochemical mechanisms of traumatic brain injury cause secondary conditions such as depression and epileptic seizures right after the injury happens or even months or years later. The other TBI long-lasting cognitive and neurologic sequelae includes:
Dysphasia (‘forgetting names’); memory deficits /cognitive long-term impairments; depression: early-onset dementia and dementia of the Alzheimer’s type (DAT), vestibular dysfunction (loss of balance and poor gait): sleep disorders; and so on. In short, the invisible concussion shortens the life span, deprives the victim of normal social, career and personal life, and entails lifelong medical treatment including surgeries and therapies.
Proof of sustained TBI and corresponding damages’ recovery in court involves neurologists, surgeons, economists, life care planner, and many experts and requires extensive specialty-specific and legal knowledge to obtain successful recovery for the injured persons.