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Can a Car Accident Cause a Concussion?

Can a Car Accident Cause a Concussion?

In recent years, the word “concussion” is frequently linked with discussions of sports injuries, especially in the National Football League. Sports injuries certainly are a big reason behind concussions, but they’re definitely not the only cause. 

In fact, while falls — including sports-related falls — are responsible for about half of all concussion-related hospitalizations in the United States, car accidents are the second-leading cause, accounting for about 25% of cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury, and no matter what causes it, prompt diagnosis and treatment are critical. At his practice in San Leandro, California, Dr. Kenneth Light uses state-of-the-art diagnostic technology and treatment techniques to help concussion patients recover safely.

Here’s what you should know about the link between motor vehicle accidents and concussions.

How car accidents cause concussions

Concussions happen when a sudden jolt or impact causes your brain to move inside your skull. The movement frequently involves contact between the soft brain tissue and the hard bone of your skull, resulting in bruising to the brain itself, along with damage to the blood vessels and nerves.

One of the most important things to know about concussions is that you don’t need to hit your head to have a concussion. The back-and-forth motions associated with many car accidents are often enough to cause your brain to come into contact with your skull — the initiating event in concussions.

Direct impacts to your head can cause concussions, too. That includes hitting your head against the steering wheel, headrest, windshield, or other object, or being hit by a loose object inside your car.

Signs and symptoms of concussions

Mild concussions frequently don’t cause noticeable symptoms. Often, these injuries go undetected and untreated unless you see a doctor immediately afterward.

More severe concussions can cause symptoms like:

The symptoms of concussion can be far-reaching, but one of the biggest issues is that these symptoms can take awhile to develop — sometimes a week or more. Without treatment, a concussion can cause permanent changes, including lifelong brain damage.

Early treatment is critical

Many concussions cause symptoms that are subtle and difficult to detect on your own. Plus, the effect of concussions is often cumulative, meaning that if you’ve had more than one, the damage to your brain can add up.

Because even a seemingly minor car accident can cause a concussion, scheduling an evaluation immediately following an accident is the best way to make sure you get the treatment you need to avoid serious health consequences later on.

If you think you have a concussion or if you’d like to learn more about concussion care with Dr. Light, call the office or book an appointment online today.

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