Post Concussion Syndrome Diagnosis after a Car Accident

“My doctor diagnosed me with a concussion after a car accident and says I have post concussion syndrome. What does that mean?” It is well known that some doctors are lacking in the bedside manner department and one of their biggest shortcomings can be the failure to tell the patient what to expect and what to do about the injury. As the lawyer, I am often left explaining the symptoms and treatment options to the client.
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Mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, lack of coordination, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, odd tastes in the mouth, behavioral or mood changes, confusion, and trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking. In Georgia, Car accidents account for 20% of diagnosed concussions. Not everyone with a concussion gets post concussion syndrome but you need to know what to look for.

In many victims, the symptoms are normally short The symptoms usually occur within the first ten days and most symptoms resolve within three to six months.The people I worry about are the unfortunate 15 percent who have symptoms that linger for a year or longer. These tend to be people with prior concussions, anxiety disorders and Type “A” personalities. People who are used to being hype-rorganized seem to have more trouble getting it back in gear.

The biggest problem I see with post concussion syndrome diagnoses in Georgia is that primary care internists may or may not diagnose the concussion and when they do they tell the patient to do nothing and keep an eye on the symptoms. Some will make a referral to a neurologist, but in my experience the neurologists in the Atlanta area are blessedly short on bedside manner and therapy suggestions. Their view seems to be that if the MRI or CT scan of the brain is clear then nothing should be done.

Georgia Neuropsychologists focus more on the cognitive aspects of the injury instead of the neurologists more “electrician” approach. Think of it this way. The neurologist will say “well, I checked the wires (nerves) and there is nothing wrong with them. The brain shows it is clear on the MRI.” That is the end of the inquiry. While our technology is advanced, imaging studies cannot show subtle damage to the brain and the best way to detect it is through cognitive testing. The hard part there of course is establishing a baseline for the doctor to compare the present condition to. Family and school records are very important in that regard.

As an Atlanta tractor trailer accident lawyer, my advice is to follow your body’s signs. If you experience a head injury of any type from a moment of disorientation after a car accident on up, go to the emergency room to get checked out. If there are no other symptoms, move on. If you notice the symptoms I listed above, make an appointment with a neurologist. Going to your PCP about a concussion makes about as much sense as asking me to cook you a flan. If the nerve and brain testing are normal, then you are probably only looking at a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). If the symptoms persist, you can ask the neurologist about cognitive or physical therapy to help the healing process along. If they are not helpful, look for a neuropsychologist on your health insurance plan.