Not All Concussions Are The Same

November 08, 2016, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

A recent CBC radio program is well worth the listen if you have time. You can catch it here but I'll summarize the show for you.

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that happens when your brain jiggles around in your skull. It can occur from a direct blow to the head, but can also be caused by whiplash like movement from a sudden sever body impact. It’s believed that the violent jiggling causes the brain’s connections to stop working correctly and can result in many symptoms like:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Cognitive impairment (confusion, difficulty concentrating)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentration
  • Severe mood swings
  • Reduced ability to make decisions

But are all concussions the same? No, they aren't. It appears that how they occur impacts diagnosis of the concussion and its subsequent treatment, and management of symptoms. The show compares and contrast the experience of an NHL Hockey Player, Sidney Crosby, with that of an average Canadian woman who works for the CBC.

Most people recover from their concussion after a few weeks, but it appears that getting the correct diagnosis and treatment immediately is key to the recovery.

Sidney Crosby has suffered several concussions because of playing hockey. For a professional athlete, this is easy. There are doctors at the bench, established assessment, treatment and recovery protocols in place for them. They tend to recover faster in part because they are healthier and they are motivated and they get the right care.

For someone who sustains a concussion because of a slip and fall, or a car accident getting the diagnosis may itself be a huge challenge. Getting the correct treatment is another hurdle. Having the acceptance of employers and insurance companies is yet another hurdle, then motivation is another hurdle. If you are suffering in pain and your judgement is impaired, and you don’t have a clear goal to work towards (like playing in the next game) it can be a deflating exercise to keep going.

Getting the most current treatment is even more challenging for non-athletes. Until recently it was thought that complete rest was key to recovery – complete with isolation and dark rooms. Now, rest is considered key but so is neural activity like listening to an audio book while resting in a room with normal lighting. Thoughts are that the brain needs some stimulation to recover.

St. Joseph’s Health Care in London has developed a good two-page handout about handling the effects of a concussion.

Key points include:

  • rest for the first 48 hours
  • avoid social situations, noise and child care
  • take time off school/work for a couple of days
  • reaction times are impaired. Avoiding driving until you are cleared by a doctor
  • avoid non prescription/recreational drugs and alcohol
  • do not play sports/physical activity

Seek Medical Care Immediately if you have:

  • Stiff neck 
  • Fluid and/or blood leaking from nose or ears
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Difficulty remaining awake
  • Fever
  • Headache that gets worse, lasts a long time, or is not relieved by over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Vomiting three or more times
  • Problems walking and talking
  • Problems thinking
  • Seizures 
  • Changes in behaviour or unusual behaviour
  • Double or Blurred vision 
  • Changes in speech (slurring, not making sense)



Posted under Brain Injury, Personal Injury, Slip and Fall Injury

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About Deutschmann Law

Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.

The opinions expressed here, while intended to provide useful information, should not be interpreted as legal recommendations or advice.

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