Concussion Injury

If you’ve experienced a traumatic accident, you may have suffered a concussion without even realizing it. Doctors estimate that 50% of concussions go undiagnosed. In many cases, trauma victims assume that their headaches and wooziness come from shock or stress.

While most concussion symptoms disappear without any complications, some can produce chronic problems. Importantly, multiple concussions can cause the damage to accumulate, leading to brain degeneration.

What Is a Concussion?

Traumatic brain injuries occur when brain cells, known as neurons, suffer damage. Severe brain injuries can result when an object penetrates the skull or the brain slams into the skull due to violent head trauma.

A concussion is a mild brain injury. Several layers of protection surround the brain, including membranes called meninges, which are filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). These materials cushion the brain during mild trauma by creating pressure, stopping it before it impacts the skull.

However, this pressure can also damage the brain. Neurons and small blood vessels can get compressed, stretched, or ruptured as the brain moves and the meninges and CSF try to hold it in place.

This damage can have two effects. First, damaged neurons can’t carry brain signals as effectively as healthy ones, so the disruption can produce concussion-like symptoms.

Second, the body triggers inflammation when it detects tissue damage. Minor damage to neurons can cause the brain to swell and increase in temperature. Physical and chemical changes in the brain can also prompt other symptoms.

What Can Cause a Concussion Injury?

The forces that cause concussions usually come from the following types of trauma:

Head Injury

When you hit your head, your brain may continue shifting toward the impact point after your skull has stopped moving. The CSF and meninges between your brain and the impact point are there to prevent the brain from hitting the skull.

If your brain overcomes this protective layer and hits bone, you could suffer a life-threatening injury called a cerebral contusion. It’s also possible to avoid this serious injury but still suffer a concussion.

In a slip and fall accident, your feet slip forward after losing traction. Your body falls backward, causing your buttocks, back, or head to strike the ground. Your brain can shift toward the back of your head when you land, potentially damaging the occipital lobe and other posterior structures.

Rapid Acceleration or Deceleration

When you accelerate or decelerate rapidly, your head can whip around. As your head shifts directions, the pressure of the CSF and meninges may squeeze different parts of your brain. This rapid movement gives concussions their name, as the word “concussion” means “to shake.”

This type of concussion can happen even if you don’t suffer head trauma. In a car accident, for instance, your seat belt might prevent you from striking your head on your steering wheel. However, the whiplash you experience can still shake your head violently enough that your brain sustains the damage characteristic of a concussion.


Explosions produce a wave of pressurized air called a blast wave, which could knock you over, causing your brain to move inside your skull. Even if the explosion doesn’t cause you to fall, you can still suffer a concussion. The blast wave compresses the brain, damaging the neurons and producing concussion symptoms.

These injuries are common in members of the military who have served in combat. They can also result from gas explosions, terrorist attacks, and workplace accidents. For example, a construction accident involving dynamite or blasting caps can cause concussions in nearby workers.

Rating Concussion Severity

The symptoms of a concussion will depend on the severity of the injury and the location of the damage. Doctors use many different scales to rate brain injury severity, one of which is called the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). This scale scores the victim’s verbal, physical, and eye responses and combines them to produce a rating.

The eye-opening score comes from an observation immediately after the concussion. A subject who can’t open their eyes receives a low score. They earn a moderate score for opening their eyes in response to sound or pressure. A high score comes from either spontaneously opening their eyes or not losing consciousness during the trauma.

The physical score is based on the person’s ability to move. They receive a low score if they can’t move in response to a stimulus. They earn a moderate score for moving in response to pressure and a high score for moving on command without any pressure to prompt them.

When treating head injuries, doctors and EMTs often ask questions like, “What’s your name?” and, “Do you remember what happened?” The subject’s answers dictate the verbal score.

If the subject answers coherently, they earn a high score even if their answers are wrong. If they give incoherent answers suggesting they don’t understand the question, they receive a moderate score. They earn a low score if they can’t speak or form words.

What Are the Symptoms of a Concussion Injury?

Your brain controls everything in your body. As such, a brain injury can cause a multitude of symptoms that affect you physically, cognitively, and emotionally. 

Some common physical symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Blurry vision or seeing stars
  • Light sensitivity
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Slurred speech
  • Clumsiness
  • Loss of balance
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness

Cognitive symptoms affect the way your brain processes information and issues commands. 

Concussions can cause the following cognitive impairments:

  • Confusion
  • Brain fog
  • Amnesia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep disorders

Your brain also governs your emotional responses. You might experience the following emotional symptoms after a concussion:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Paranoia

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause symptoms similar to concussions. A doctor can determine whether your emotional symptoms will dissipate when your brain heals or if you could benefit from therapy to treat PTSD resulting from your injury.

What Complications Can Arise From Concussion Injuries?

Concussion symptoms usually go away within three months after an injury. Symptoms that last longer may signify post-concussion syndrome (PCS). Doctors don’t know what causes PCS, though research suggests a possible link between PCS and PTSD.

Repeated concussions can cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease that has no cure. After suffering a concussion, your doctor will recommend against any activities that may cause another concussion before your brain heals. You should also take precautions to prevent concussions later in life, like wearing a helmet while cycling.

Can I Get Compensated For a Concussion Injury?

You can pursue compensation for concussions that result from someone else’s negligent or intentional acts. For example, if you suffered a concussion due to an assault, you may have a valid civil claim against your assailant.

Most personal injury claims are based on negligence, which occurs when someone fails to exercise reasonable care. A driver who runs a red light and hits your car might be liable for the resulting concussion.

Contact The Buffalo Personal Injury Lawyers At O’Brien & Ford PC For Help Today

A concussion can cause severe and potentially long-lasting symptoms. Contact O’Brien & Ford Buffalo Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation to discuss the possibility of compensation for your condition.

For more information, please contact the Buffalo personal injury lawyers at O’Brien & Ford PC to schedule a free consultation with an accident lawyer. We have a convenient office location in Buffalo, NY.

We proudly serve all throughout Erie County and the state of New York.

O’Brien & Ford Buffalo Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers
4549 Main St, Suite 201
Buffalo, New York, 14226
(716) 222-2222