A concussion, also called a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), is one of the more common injuries you may sustain in a car accident. While some concussions are minor and cause relatively few problems, others can be quite debilitating and may cause long-term issues. Concussions, like any head injury, are serious. A doctor should monitor them closely.
Signs of a Head Injury After a Car Accident
A concussion is a brain injury that can occur any time you hit your head, or even from whiplash. The symptoms of a concussion may be immediate or could develop up to several weeks after your car accident. Seek medical treatment if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Memory problems
- Blurred or double vision
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Nausea or vomiting
- Losing consciousness
It can be difficult to detect the signs of a concussion in young children because they are not always able to communicate what they are experiencing. See a doctor right away if your child got in a car accident and shows any of the following symptoms:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Excessive crying or irritability
- Slurred speech
- Strange behavior
- Vision or balance difficulties
- Delayed reactions
Long-Term Effects of Concussions
Most concussion symptoms will dissipate within a few days. However, a serious concussion can hang around for months, continuing to cause headaches, dizziness, and confusion. Some people may suffer long-term physical, cognitive, and emotional changes. Concussions can be particularly dangerous if you have suffered a previous concussion or another head injury. Subsequent concussions are more likely to cause permanent brain damage.
Treating and Managing a ConcussionThere is no cure for a concussion. However, the best medicine for any head injury is rest. Rest is absolutely necessary for your brain to heal, so be careful not to overexert yourself physically or mentally. Reduce lighting and noise in your home while you recover. Although your family and friends may be anxious to visit you after a car accident, keep socializing to a minimum for a few days. A low-stimulus environment is most conducive to MTBI recovery.
Acetaminophen may be helpful for lingering concussion headaches but avoid ibuprofen and aspirin. Your doctor may also prescribe other medications for pain and nausea. Do not consume alcohol during your recovery period. As always, follow your doctor’s orders closely and ask before making changes or beginning a new treatment.
You will want to avoid activities that involve concentration and problem-solving. For this reason, your doctor may recommend you take time off from work or school. As you recover, you should slowly and gradually increase the amount of “mental work” you are doing. This includes “easy” tasks like reading, texting, and playing games. When you return to work or school, remember to take frequent breaks. Try to find a quiet place to lay your head down and nap if possible.