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Concussions Are More Than Just a Headache

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Most people over the age of thirty remember when a sharp blow to the head was just “getting your clock cleaned.”  In years past, folks seldom saw a doctor for such an injury, and doctors rarely prescribed much, if any, treatment.  However, as medical technology has improved, the medical field now recognizes that even a seemingly minor blow to the head can have permanent effects.



The 2015 movie Concussion addresses how improved knowledge of these injuries impacted the National Football League. In many cases, these concussion injuries result in a diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury. Given our increased knowledge base, here are some tips for treating a concussion:

1. Treat the Concussion Immediately

If you try to “tough it out” and ignore your symptoms, the problem will probably become worse.  Consult with a doctor to get recommendations on limitations while you recover.  Doctors often prescribe rest, and particularly recommend that you avoid stressful or physically demanding activities.  You will need to get a recommendation from your doctor about whether you are able to work, and if so whether your employer needs to make accommodations due to your condition.  When you are ready to return to your normal schedule, it is best to do so gradually so that your brain has time to adjust to the increase in activity.

2. Avoid Another Head Injury

While recovering from a concussion, you are especially vulnerable to further head injury.  A bump that would not ordinarily do significant damage is more likely to result in brain swelling or permanent damage.  Because of this, you should be careful to avoid activities such as sports that have a high likelihood of another blow or jolt to the head.

3. Find a Helper

In addition to headaches, concussions often cause memory difficulty, confusion, and cognitive problems.  In part because the symptoms affect the patient’s memory and ability to think, the patient is often unable to communicate symptoms effectively with doctors.  In fact, patients frequently are unaware that they have any symptoms.  For that reason, the patient must find a close friend, co-worker or family member to tag along for doctor appointments and help provide a complete picture of symptoms.  You should also consult with your helper before making important life decisions.

4. Seek a Specialist

Emergency room doctors often suggest any follow up for a concussion, particularly when mild, be with your family doctor, who is most likely a general practitioner.  However, a neuropsychologist or neuropsychiatrist has special training to identify concussion-related symptoms that will only show up with thorough testing.  Such testing often takes several hours, or even a full day, but gives your provider a much more detailed and accurate picture of how your concussion is affecting you.

The therapies that are available for treating concussions and traumatic brain injuries today are providing people with great result, but you need to start treating these symptoms early, within the first 3-6 months of your injury. If you don’t start treating for your condition, it may never get better. During this time you should be focusing on your physical and emotional recovery to ensure that, later on down the road, you receive a financial recovery.

5. Develop Coping Strategies

Symptoms of a concussion can make tasks that were once easy seem difficult or even impossible. For example, you may go to the grocery store and realize you have forgotten why you are there. Making lists can help you avoid this type of issue. You may need to enlist your helper to write up instructions for tasks that you once performed without having to think about them, such as running a dishwasher or washing laundry.

6. Hire an Attorney

If your injury resulted from the negligence of another person or company, an attorney can help ensure that you recover full and fair compensation for all of the ways the concussion has affected you.

Posted by Frank A. Wright, Jr., Esq.