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Common Questions about Head and Brain Injuries

How do I know if I have a closed head injury or concussion from a car accident?

People who have suffered concussions are often unaware of the extent of the injury. Some common symptoms for a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or concussion, can include:

  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • memory problems
  • trouble concentrating
  • behavioral changes (confusion, irritability)
  • light and noise sensitivity
  • a ringing noise in the ears
  • feeling more tired than usual
  • lacking motivation.

In more serious cases of moderate to severe TBI, the symptoms can also include even more troubling symptoms:

  • loss of consciousness
  • constant headache
  • repeated nausea with vomiting
  • difficulty walking and speaking
  • memory loss including not remembering the events preceding the head trauma
  • weakness in other body parts
  • pupil dilation in one eye
  • bodily fluids coming out of the nose or ears

What is a closed head injury? Is it different from a concussion?

There are two kinds of Traumatic Brain Injuries or TBI, closed brain injuries and penetrating brain injuries.

A closed brain injury happens when the brain forcefully hits the inside of the skull but there is no damage to the skull. While a concussion is a fairly common kind of closed brain injury, it is not the only kind.

Concussions are also called mild TBI. But, just because they are labeled mild, experts stress it doesn’t mean they are any less dangerous.

Penetrating brain injuries occur when the skull has been cracked, broken, or penetrated in some manner.

Can I suffer a concussion or closed head injury without hitting my head?

Yes, you can experience a concussion without an external impact to your head.

A concussion can happen during forceful backward and forward motions like those occuring in whiplash – typical in rear-end collisions.

Concussions, either from whiplash or a blow to the head, have the same or similar. Even if you didn’t hit your head but feel any symptoms noted above, please get yourself checked out at either your local emergency room or your primary doctor.

Can you have a concussion without blacking out?

Yes. While loss of consciousness following a consussion is something you hear about frequently, it doesn’t always happen. Oftentimes, people who have suffered serious concussions do not lose consciousness at all.

Are there different kinds of closed head injuries?

Yes. There are two kinds of brain injuries, primary and secondary.

A primary head injury typically occurs in a car accident or a fall. There is a sudden impact to the skull with resulting damage at the time of impact or shortly thereafter.

A secondary brain injury is one which does its damage gradually, over time. It could take hours or days to manifest after the primary impact. This is often the type of concussion one experiences due to a whiplash injury.

What sort of tests are used to determine if a brain injury has occurred?

How a person is tested for a brain injury varies based on several factors. These are the most common tests:

  • Blood testing
  • X-Ray
  • CT Scan
  • EEG
  • MRI

Typically, the first test an emergency room will do is a CT Scan.

But, many times, people who have concussions can be evaluated and sent home without the need for any of these tests.