The Most Overlooked Injury In The U.S.
Mar 28, 2016
Did you know that thousands of people suffer concussions each year, and don’t realize it – because the condition can be hard to diagnose, and because the symptoms often don’t show up until long after the injury occurs?
As a result, many people don’t connect their symptoms to their actual cause. And they fail to get proper medical treatment – or to seek compensation for the accident.
Concussions are traumatic brain injuries caused by a sudden blow to the head. They can result from sports and recreation activities, car and bicycle accidents, work-related injuries, slip-and-falls, and physical assaults. Common symptoms include confusion, nausea, headaches, balance problems, dizziness, clumsiness, slurred speech, blurred vision, sluggishness, sensitivity to light and noise, ringing in the ears, behavioral or personality changes, concentration difficulties, and memory loss.
Repeated concussions can lead to a disease called “chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” which can result in drug or alcohol addiction, acts of violence, and suicide. Unfortunately, doctors often misdiagnose concussions, especially if they don’t see the patient immediately after an accident has occurred. If they don’t know about a possible head trauma, they may believe the person’s symptoms are the result of a neurological disorder, balance problems, depression, or ADHD.
As a result, if you or a loved one ever experiences a blow to the head, there are three steps you should take – even if you think that “it’s nothing” and you feel okay at the time:
Seek medical treatment right away. Find out if a concussion occurred, and if so, what you should do to begin healing.
Make note of the time and circumstances of the accident. If you’re going to seek compensation later, you’ll need this information.
In one recent case, a high school student named Amy Dugan was struck by a ball during a field hockey game. The coach allegedly made no attempt to determine whether Amy had suffered a concussion, and kept Amy in the game – despite state regulations requiring that student athletes be removed from play right away in these circumstances, and prohibiting them from returning until they are cleared by a licensed trainer or medical professional.
Five days later, in another game, Amy hit her head in a collision, and again wasn’t evaluated or removed from play. Amy’s parents sued the school, claiming that Amy’s head trauma caused significant behavioral symptoms that “changed her life forever.” And a Massachusetts court allowed the lawsuit to go forward.
There have been many similar lawsuits over football injuries, often based on the fact that a school used outdated safety equipment or didn’t have enough trainers at practice.
In another case, an Illinois businessman named James Hausman won significant compensation after he was struck by an automatic sliding door on a cruise ship. It turned out the cruise line knew about the malfunctioning door, and hadn’t taken adequate steps to fix it. Hausman suffered severe post-concussive symptoms including fatigue, dizziness and social withdrawal, which seriously damaged his family and work life.
You should note that small children can suffer concussions, and these can be even harder to spot because very young children often can’t fully communicate what they’re feeling. After a serious fall or other blow to the head, it’s critical to monitor a young child’s behavior for any changes.
Senior citizens are also at significant risk of a concussion, because they can be prone to falls. Even worse, these injuries can be overlooked because many people assume that the common symptoms of a concussion – such as memory problems, impaired thinking or movement, or trouble with vision or hearing – are simply signs of growing older. But the real cause could be a brain injury that resulted from a fall.
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