Concussion Definition

July 14, 2020 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Concussion Definition

Florida Concussion Injuries

When a concussion occurs, it's typically because someone's head has sustained a blunt impact or a velocity that causes the head to jerk back and forth; that movement has caused the person's brain to move in their skull, often resulting in a concussion. When sudden, forceful movements make someone's brain move in their skull, there's a potential for serious damage.
  • Our brains are cushioned by a specialized fluid in our skulls known as cerebrospinal fluid
  • When a concussion occurs, a victim's brain loses its support due to a physical jolt
  • This loss of support can lead brain cells to bruise and stretch
  • It can also cause damage to cranial nerves and the blood vessels that supply the brain

How Are Concussions Caused?

The majority of concussions occur due to falls, accidents, and blows to the head (like in sports injuries). A blow to the head does not actually have to occur for a concussion to result.

A Brief History of the Term

The word “concussion” comes from the Latin words “concutere” and “concussus.”
  • Concutere means “to shake violently”
  • Concussus means “the act of striking together”

Concussions Are a Form of Traumatic Brain Injury

Concussions are one of many types of traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries (or TBI) are serious—in fact, there are entire branches of legal services intended just for TBI survivors. Concussions may not always be life-threatening, but they are serious events and require prompt medical attention. Some people believe that concussions are not serious injuries. This could not be further from the truth. Some survivors face permanent brain damage as a result of concussions.
  • Concussions cause the temporary loss of regular brain function
  • Usually, they are caused by a shaking of the head and upper body or a blow to the head
  • Concussions do not always involve loss of consciousness; sometimes there are no external signs of a head injury

Negligent Acts That Lead to Concussions

It's possible to suffer a concussion under virtually any circumstances, but some settings and activities present more risk than others. Unfortunately, many concussions are caused by deliberate or negligent acts. Some examples of incidents like these that could cause a concussion include:
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Sports injuries
  • Slip and falls
  • Violent assaults
  • Workplace accidents

Concussions Can Occur Without Impact to the Head

Many people believe that, because a concussion moves the brain and impacts the head, someone's head needs to actually strike something for a concussion to occur. This is not true. One of the most common myths that surround concussions is that you can't get a concussion if your head isn't physically hit. The truth is that a jolt to the head (like one you'd experience during whiplash) often provides plenty of force to cause a concussion.

More Concussions Myths

  • If someone has a concussion, they lose consciousness
  • Not every concussion survivor loses consciousness; and, in some cases, someone may lose consciousness for a matter of seconds without anyone around them realizing anyway
  • If an MRI or CT-scan comes back negative, someone does not have a concussion
  • There's no guarantee that a clear scan means no concussion; our brains can suffer microscopic lesions that cause damage but are difficult to pinpoint
  • It's easy to recover from a concussion
  • Not always. In fact, some concussions are very severe. Recovery times vary greatly depending on the individual injury someone sustains

One Group at High Risk of Concussions: Athletes

Athletes, especially those involved in contact sports, face an elevated risk of injury in general. Hockey, football, and other similar sports all:
  • Put players at risk of sustaining multiple concussions throughout their time in the sport
  • Provide an increased risk of permanent brain injuries
  • Place players at risk of not receiving adequate treatment at the time of the concussion
Whether somebody is involved in sports like these recreationally or professionally, they should be aware of the risks they face when they're in the middle of practice or a game.

The Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion

Experts agree that the signs and symptoms of concussions can be classified in four distinct groups:
  • Thinking and memory impairment: Anterograde amnesia, retrograde amnesia, loss of consciousness, coma, transient global amnesia; difficulty answering questions
  • Sleep disturbances: Insomnia
  • Emotional and/or mood instability: Irritability, sadness, mood swings
  • Physical signs: Swelling headaches, blurry vision, lethargy, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, tinnitus, balance troubles, photosensitivity
Some people's concussion symptoms may only appear for seconds or minutes. In other cases, a concussion survivor may present symptoms days or weeks after the concussion actually occurred.

Concussions and Children: Symptoms to Look For

Children and concussions seem to mix even worse than adults and concussions do. Most children are at an increased risk of TBI in general—they're accident-prone, still growing, and their bodies work in unique ways. Their symptoms of head injury often look different from ours. A child may have suffered a concussion if they are:
  • Crying excessively
  • Presenting out-of-character behavior
  • Very tired
  • Irritable
  • Unbalanced
  • Following unusual sleeping or eating patterns

Concussions in Nursing Homes and Concussions in Older Adults

Like children, the elderly face some unique risks when it comes to concussions. Seniors are more likely to experience serious complications (like brain bleeding) after a concussion. That means that extra care should be taken if an older adult is at risk of sustaining a concussion or may have sustained one already. Older people also may have health conditions that make it difficult to pinpoint the signs of a concussion. This is why it is recommended that the elderly receive medical attention after virtually every fall. The CDC also recommends that older adults who take blood thinners should see their doctors as soon as possible after a head injury. People who take blood thinners are generally elderly—and these medications create additional risk if a concussion occurs. If you or somebody that you love has suffered a concussion in a nursing home, you deserve justice. A lawyer can help you defend your rights in court and fight for compensation.

Sometimes, Other Injuries Occur Along With Concussions

Many concussion victims do experience other injuries when they sustain a concussion. Not every concussion will cause additional injuries like these, but they can indicate that someone may have experienced head trauma:
  • Scalp wounds: Many concussion victims' scalps are lacerated; they may bleed or even suffer permanent tissue damage
  • Secondary concussions: If someone has already had a concussion and their brain has started to heal, they may suffer a second concussion if their brain is shaken again
  • Closed injuries: These occur inside the head and are difficult to spot; hematomas, contusions to the brain, and subdural hemorrhages are all examples; these may prove fatal without prompt medical attention

How Are Concussions Diagnosed?

If someone may have a concussion, his or her doctor will approach diagnosis by:
  • Assessing the patient's history
  • Determining which signs or symptoms the patient is presenting at the time
  • (Possibly) ordering neurological tests, CT scans, MRIs, etc.

Post-Concussion Syndrome

Some concussions' symptoms disappear within a matter of a few weeks after injury; but, when symptoms persist for years, someone may be suffering from a condition called post-concussion syndrome (PCS). PCS's main symptoms include headaches, sleep problems, and depression, and anxiety. Some concussion victims may also display cognitive problems for longer than anticipated after their injury.
  • Some doctor believe that PCS is rooted in psychological factors
  • Evidence has shown that our brains may suffer some structural damage during concussions that can cause longer-lasting symptoms
  • Sufferers may receive pain medication or be referred to specialists to treat mental health symptoms

The Long-Term Complications of Concussions

Some people who suffer concussions face long-term consequences like:
  • Problems with concentration
  • Problems with memory
  • Problems with balance and coordination
  • Problems with judgment
  • Problems sleeping
  • Irritability and personality changes
  • Headaches
  • Depression
The best way to increase someone's chances of avoiding long-term complications after a concussion is to seek prompt medical treatment. In some cases, this could help prevent avoidable further injuries or detect hidden ones. Seeing a doctor is not a guarantee that someone will be complication-free after a concussion, but it does generally improve their chances at long-term health.

Filing a Negligence Claim After a Concussion

Concussion survivors pursuing a brain injury claim must typically prove four elements in a negligence case:
  1. Duty: We all owe each other a duty of reasonable care in most day-to-day settings; for us to abide by the duty, we must avoid behavior that puts others at unreasonable risk
  2. Breach of duty: Unfortunately, people breach their duty of reasonable care all the time; some example include failing to maintain a safe property or driving under the influence
  3. Causation: A concussion survivor must show that their injuries can be legally and substantively attributed to the defendant's behavior; if someone's behavior was not a substantial cause for damage, they may not always be held liable
  4. The sustainment of compensable damages: Someone can't win compensation from a negligence claim if they haven't proven their compensable damages; many concussion victims prove medical costs, emotional distress, and other damages
Remember: your lawyer will help you with the burden of proving these factors. You'll have to work together—since you know what happened better than anyone—but, you'll have an advocate representing you at every stage of the claims process.

Dos and Don'ts After Someone Has Suffered a Concussion

  • Do rest: Our bodies need to rest to heal; as long as a medical professional has said that you're safe to sleep, you can even catch some shut-eye
  • Do avoid fast or sharp movements: Quick, sharp movements have the potential to cause even more damage to the brain
The do-not list is definitely longer:
  • Do not watch television or anything else that can stress the brain: Too much mental activity or stress is dangerous after a concussion
  • Do not engage in activity that might further damage the brain: Nobody wants to cause further damage to their brain after a concussion; so, avoid activities that you know present an increased risk of head injury
  • Do not go back to work without doctor clearance: Going back to work before you're instructed by a doctor can do a lot of damage. It can hinder your recovery, it may put your workmates at risk, and it can even compromise your brain injury case
  • Do not stop taking medication: This advice is generalized. Obviously, if your doctor recommends that you stop taking a certain medication due to a concussion, you should
  • Do not drive: Until you've been formally cleared to drive, you should never drive if you suspect you have a concussion
If you have questions about what you can and can't (or should and shouldn't) do after a concussion, consult with a medical expert. You should always follow a doctor's advice when it comes to your health.

You Can Protect Your Rights After a Concussion By Partnering With a Qualified Concussion Attorney

Matthew A. Dolman Esq.
Matthew Dolman Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or somebody you love has been impacted by a concussion caused by someone else's negligence or recklessness, you don't need to navigate life after injury alone. A qualified concussion lawyer can help you determine who may be responsible for your injuries and pursue justice in court. Lots of people have questions about how a lawyer can help them after a concussion. Lawyers work with industry experts to help prove their clients' cases; they may partner with doctors, automobile or product manufacturers, sports experts, or other parties. A lawyer will also help you maintain documentation and evidence. It can be difficult to collect and organize evidence; medical forms, photographs, and other documents all play a key role in concussion cases; a lawyer will help you collect evidence and keep it organized. More importantly, your attorney will serve as your representative when dealing with liable parties, insurance companies, witnesses, and if necessary, before a judge and jury. To contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA either call our office at (727) 451-6900 or contact us online.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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