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The doctors told you it was “only a concussion.” They referred to it as a “mild traumatic brain injury.” Your friends and acquaintances shrugged when you told them about your symptoms and said you would feel better in a few days.
However, after your accident, you’re still dealing with headaches, dizziness, and a host of other problems that appeared after the accident that caused your concussion. Now doctors are telling you that you have post-concussion syndrome.
It feels like your medical team is confused about how to treat the syndrome and at a loss as to how or even what even causes the syndrome in the first place. Meanwhile, you keep going to the doctor and accumulating bills. Maybe you’re losing income because the problems make work impossible. Maybe you’re even having trouble just getting through the day.
If it feels like you have more questions than answers, you’re right. One of them is probably how much you could recover in a settlement with the person or entity that caused your concussion.
Unfortunately, no ethical San Diego brain injury lawyer can definitively answer that question, because it hinges on too many variables. The information below about post-concussion syndrome, what causes it, and how doctors treat it—plus a little about the legal process—can help you understand why. Meanwhile, don’t let the unknowns in your case make you give up hope.
A concussion is often described—misleadingly—as a “mild” form of traumatic brain injury, resulting from a bump, jolt, or blow to the head. About 20 percent of concussion-sufferers may go on to develop chronic physical or cognitive symptoms.
Post-concussion syndrome, also known as post-TBI syndrome, is a complex injury that results in different symptoms that do not seem to depend on the severity of the initial injury. Those symptoms include:
Many medical professionals believe that post-concussion syndrome results from structural damage to the brain or a disruption to the messaging system within the nerves stemming from the impact to the head that resulted in the initial injury. However, others believe that psychological factors cause the symptoms, because headaches, dizziness, and sleep disturbances are also hallmarks of psychological disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression.
This latter belief is prevalent in doctors who treat members of the military who suffered their brain injury as a result of combat conditions and training, as well as doctors who treat individuals who have a past history or family history of depression, who have poor coping skills, lack of social support, and significant life stressors.
Regardless, doctors may give a post-concussion syndrome diagnosis to those with three or more of the symptoms listed above if they last for more than a month after the initial injury.
Anyone who suffers a concussion is at risk of developing post-concussion syndrome. However, the risk is higher for some people, including:
New studies have revealed that those who have suffered multiple concussions over their lives have a higher presence of a biomarker called neurofilament light chain, which is a nerve protein found in the blood after nerve cells are injured or die. Researchers have found increased levels of this protein in those suffering more severe post-concussion syndrome symptoms, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression years after the injury occurred.
The study, which involved a total of 195 military veterans suffering concussions in the post-9/11 era, was undertaken to discover tests that could detect the likelihood of developing long-lasting post-concussion symptoms. Doctors can also use it to indicate who is more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder following an injury, with the hope of providing treatment more quickly to lessen the effects of the injury.
As reported by the Veterans Administration, light sensitivity is one of the most commonly reported symptoms of post-concussion syndrome in those who acquired a brain injury during blast injuries received during combat military service or training. The V.A., in fact, has found this symptom in as many as 77 percent of individuals who receive treatment for the syndrome. While no specific treatment resolves light sensitivity, doctors may ask patients to identify the type of light most commonly associated with the sensitivity to minimize exposure to that type of light.
Additionally, doctors may provide individuals with photophobia glasses that use tinted filters to avoid exposure to the type of light that creates pain. Doctors may also encourage patients to take a break from certain types of light that may cause symptoms, such as that produced by the screens of computers or mobile devices.
In addition to treating light sensitivity through avoidance of the types of light that trigger pain and the assistance of filtered glasses, doctors treat the various symptoms of post-concussion syndrome with different therapies, including:
Avoiding activities commonly associated with brain injuries, such as contact sports and recreational activities such as diving, can prevent concussions in the first place. So can wearing a seat belt when riding in a car (since motor vehicle accidents are one of the more common causes of traumatic brain injury).
Once someone sustains a brain injury, they might prevent lingering symptoms associated with post-concussion syndrome by:
People often regard concussions as “mild” brain injuries. However, there is nothing mild about damaging your brain, particularly if that damage results in chronic headaches, depression and anxiety, light sensitivity, memory loss, and other issues associated with post-concussion syndrome.
The symptoms of this syndrome can affect every facet of a person’s life, including:
As the above should illustrate, determining the full economic cost of your injury—to say nothing of your pain and suffering—will require a careful analysis of:
It will also depend on:
All of this will require your brain injury lawyer to thoroughly investigate your accident, carefully review your medical records, and enter negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company. The complicated process and the unknowns in your case can frustrate you, but with the right brain injury lawyer working for you, you can maximize whatever compensation the at-fault party owes you, recover it as efficiently as possible, and pay for the help you need to improve your health.
If you suffer from post-concussion syndrome as the result of a brain injury that the careless or reckless actions of someone else caused, the last thing you need to hear is that the issue is minor and that it will resolve on its own. While post-concussion syndrome is serious, treatments and therapy can help alleviate the many symptoms you are experiencing.
You need a brain injury lawyer with experience investigating and litigating this type of complex injury and its associated effects. A brain injury lawyer can properly value your case and help you to obtain the compensation you need to pay for therapies that can assist you in your recovery and help you and your family shoulder the burden caused by your symptoms.
John Gomez founded the firm alone in 2005. Today, John acts as President and Lead Trial Attorney. He has been voted by his peers as a top ten San Diego litigator in three separate fields: Personal Injury, Insurance and Corporate Litigation. Since 2000, he has recovered over $800 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients with more than 160 separate recoveries of one million dollars or more. A prolific trial lawyer, John has tried to jury verdict more than 60 separate cases.
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