Extreme Weather = Auto Accidents = Concussion

Extreme weather accidents result in brain injury.

Posted Jan 11, 2017

Extreme Weather = Auto Accidents = Concussion

With permission from Pexels
Source: With permission from Pexels

Concussions, knowingly or unknowingly, can result from automobile accidents. Automobile accidents are a leading cause of concussion (mild traumatic brain injury) in the US.  However, 1 out of every 4 people has sustained a concussion and don't even realize it (from "Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury"). They know their car in a wreck, and their body aches from the crash, but because they didn't bang their head, they don't know they sustain a concussion. Most people think concussions are caused by a blow to the head, as seen in boxing, football or baseball injuries, not necessarily from whiplash or rotation of the head.

Our country has experienced extreme weather conditions over the past few months. Blizzards in the West, the Lake effect in the Mid-West, major snow storms in the Northeast, white-out conditions in the East and flooding in the South have caused the greatest number of automobile accidents in years.

The statistics, annually:

  • Over 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,800 people are injured in auto accidents on snowy, slushy or icy pavement.
  • Nearly 900 people are killed and nearly 76,000 people are injured in vehicle crashes during snowfall or sleet.
  • 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet.

In an automobile accident you can sustain a direct blow (4), or whiplash (2).  If your vehicle were broadsided (hit from the side), it can cause your head to rotate (1); while (3) is a coup-contra-coup, where the brain is injured in the front and back.  

From drdiane.com with permission
Source: From drdiane.com with permission

Concussion can result from sudden acceleration and deceleration of the head, like whiplash, producing a sudden action of snapping the head and neck, back and forth quickly, jostling the brain. This impact to the head can cause the brain to bang against or rotate within the skull’s bony interior walls. If the force is strong enough, it strains, stretches, shears and even tears the nerve cells and nerve fibers, impairing brain function, and resulting in concussion (mTBI).

You don’t have to lose consciousness to have a concussion. There aren’t any outward visible signs, although there may be cuts, scraps, and bruises from the auto accident that caused the concussion. Sometimes the signs and symptoms are so subtle, they are missed altogether, leaving the concussion to go undiagnosed and left untreated. Concussion symptoms range from mild to severe, and they can last for hours, days, weeks, or longer. Even a minor dysregulation of the brain can have a serious and significant impact on one’s life.

Symptoms of Concussion

If you were in an automobile accident and are experiencing any of the symptoms listed below, you likely sustained a concussion and were not aware of it. If these symptoms have lasted more than a few weeks, then you are experiencing Post-Concussion Syndrome or PCS.

Physical Issues

  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Hearing problems
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Nightmares/Flashbacks
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Falling asleep unexpectedly
  • Hand or leg tremors
  • Sensitivity to light and/or sound
  • Sexual dysfunction or loss of sex drive
  • Gait imbalance
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Loss of taste and smell

Behavioral Issues

  • Confrontational attitude
  • Explosive temper
  • Fearfulness
  • Impatience
  • Thoughtlessness
  • Hypervigilance

Emotional Issues

Cognitive Issues

  • Distractibility
  • Disorientation
  • Temporary Amnesia
  • Problems with Speaking
  • Poor Judgment
  • Slow Thinking
  • Inability to Focus Attention
  • Problems Remembering What You Heard
  • Word Finding Problems
  • Feelings of Confusion
  • Long or Short Term Memory Problems

Seek Treatment for Concussion

Leaving a concussion untreated can lead to Post-Concussion Syndrome and other health consequences. If you are in an automobile accident, remember you do not have to hit your head to sustain a concussion. Know the signs and symptoms, and seek treatment to avoid the consequences. There are various concussion treatment methods including Conventional, Complimentary, and Alternative methods. Treatment will depend of your unique sets of circumstances and symptoms.

Stay safe.  Be well.

- Dr. Diane®

Diane Roberts Stoler, Ed.D. © Copyright 2016