It should come as no surprise to learn that car accidents often lead to traumatic brain injury (TBI) events. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that millions of people experience TBIs every year. Concussion is one of the most common types of TBI.
A concussion happens after the brain suffers trauma from a sudden blow or other force. For instance, hitting your head against the steering wheel or driver’s side window during a crash could cause a concussion. However, you do not need to strike your head against something to experience a concussion. You can get a concussion just by having your head jostled around violently during a collision.
Although concussions can be frightening and require immediate treatment, most end up healing within a few weeks. However, some accident survivors experience more long-term complications. This is known as post-concussion syndrome. Post-concussion syndrome is a more serious, long-term form of concussion accompanied by debilitating, life-altering symptoms that can persist for months or even years.
What Are Some Signs of Post-Concussion Syndrome?
Every person who experiences post-concussion syndrome can present a unique litany of symptoms. These often include a combination of some of the following reactions.
Behavioral changes: Often, friends, family members, and colleagues will notice behavioral changes such as mood swings in someone who has experienced a concussion. These types of changes may be subtle. The survivor may not recognize them or be willing to acknowledge them.
Physical changes: Headaches, nausea, dizziness, and tinnitus are some of the more common symptoms of post-concussion syndrome. Normally, the headaches mimic the intensity and pain of migraines.
Cognitive changes: In more severe cases of post-concussive syndrome, survivors may have trouble with short-term or long-term memory. Again, this may not be evident immediately but show up over time.
Sleep changes: People with post-concussion syndrome are more prone to sleep disturbances such as insomnia, restlessness, or oversleeping.
Communication ability changes: It may be difficult for someone who has had a serious concussion to speak clearly. Some individuals have difficulty finding the right words for the situation. Others may not be able to understand what others are saying to them.
Mental health changes: Owing to the physical, cognitive, and other symptoms caused by a concussion, accident survivors frequently undergo periods of depression.
How Do Medical Professionals Diagnose Post-Concussion Syndrome?
Medical professionals have ways of identifying concussions right after the concussions happen. However, diagnosing post-concussion syndrome can take more time.
What makes post-concussion syndrome more challenging to pinpoint? The biggest issue is that there is no specific testing protocol. This means that providers must do their best to diagnose this condition using a variety of diagnostics.
For example, doctors may order CT scans, PET scans, or other imaging to get a closer look at what is happening in the individual’s brain. They may also perform a number of neuropsychological and neurological tests to determine if the individual’s brain function has been affected.
After examining everything from the individual’s balance and vision to reflexes and problem-solving skills, the doctor can establish whether the patient likely has a case of post-concussion syndrome.
How Is Post-Concussion Syndrome Treated?
Physicians usually choose to treat post-concussion syndrome on a case-by-case basis. A treatment plan could include some of the following items:
- Therapy and rehabilitation exercises to stimulate the brain and restore it to pre-accident condition, or as close to pre-accident condition as possible.
- Medications to counteract symptoms such as nausea, headaches, tinnitus, and depression.
- Rest and recovery until more significant symptoms of the concussion have subsided.
- Avoidance of screen use, since digital screens can exacerbate some of the visual and physical side effects of post-concussion syndrome.
Can People with Post-Concussion Syndrome Work?
Sometimes, people who have been diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome can no longer perform their typical career duties. When this happens, they may end up losing their income and potentially being able to work at any job until their post-concussion syndrome symptoms subside.
For younger accident survivors, going to school may be a difficult task. Occasionally, students must put their schooling on hold until they can return to regular or near-regular levels of activity.
Is It Hard to Get Compensated for Post-Concussion Syndrome after a Car Accident?
Having post-concussion syndrome can affect every aspect of your life, from your occupation to your personal relationships. It also can be costly to address, especially if you have to pay a lot of money out of pocket for medical bills or you have to quit working.
Ideally, you would be able to receive both economic and non-economic financial damages from insurance to help make you financially whole. However, it can be difficult to compel insurance companies to offer fair settlements for post-concussion syndrome. Too often, insurance companies will act dismissively about the diagnosis or try to encourage the injured accident survivor to accept a low sum of money quickly.
Unfortunately, many people agree to make settlement offers just to pay off their bills. However, once a settlement offer has been accepted, it cannot be reversed. Therefore, survivors are often better off working with a legal representative who can help them prove that they have post-concussion syndrome as a direct result of a car accident.
Ways to Help Prove that You Have Post-Concussion Syndrome
After being injured in an accident, you can take a few steps to improve your chances of being able to show that any immediate or delayed symptoms are related to the incident.
Keep a diary: Your diary should document your medical experiences in the days, weeks, and months following the accident. You should include everything from medical appointments to pain levels. Be honest and accurate.
Hold onto medical records: Keep copies of all your medical records, including any invoices you paid or health care insurance claims you receive. If your health care provider gives you access to your information online, you may be asked by your lawyer to print out test results and other information to build your case.
Attend your medical appointments: Be sure that you keep getting the treatment you deserve throughout your recovery period. Not only is this prudent for you, but also it helps show that you have a serious medical problem. If you stop going to appointments, showing up for rehabilitation check-ins, or neglect to get diagnostic tests, the insurance company could use your non-compliance against you.
Stay on top of deadlines: It can be very difficult to keep track of everything after an accident. Nevertheless, pay attention to the statute of limitations regarding personal injuries. In Washington DC and the state of Maryland, you have three years after a car accident to file claims or start lawsuits. These deadlines are set in stone. If you feel overwhelmed at trying to recover and negotiate with insurance companies within the period, you may find that hiring a car accident lawyer can help take off some of the stress.
Above all else, remember that post-concussion syndrome is not something to take lightly. Seek treatment as soon as you can and do whatever is necessary to help your brain heal from your accident-related injury.
Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Help Clients Who Have Sustained Post-Concussion Syndrome after Crashes
If you are overwhelmed after being diagnosed with a crash-related concussion or if your medical provider told you that you have post-concussion syndrome, reach out to Washington DC car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King. Our experienced legal team will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to help you secure full and fair compensation. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington DC, Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we work with clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.