November 17, 2021

What if My Child Has a Concussion From a Car Accident?

child concussion

Seat belts and other safety devices are designed to prevent car accident injuries. However, even with safety devices, children can still experience serious injuries in a car crash. It is not always obvious that a child has experienced a concussion, which is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Detecting a concussion in a child can be tricky, especially if the child is too young to speak or follow instructions. Most brain injury tests involve testing cognitive function by giving instructions for a patient to follow a finger with the eyes or respond to simple questions. These either cannot be used at all or can give inconclusive results when used to test young children.

A trained medical professional can examine the child, note symptoms, and interview parents and relatives. In some instances, a CT scan or MRI may be appropriate.

Symptoms to look out for in young children include:

  • Crying more than usual.
  • Changing how they play or interact with people.
  • Altered nursing, eating, or sleep patterns.
  • Mood changes, such as sadness or having temper tantrums.
  • Loss of interest in usual activities and/or favorite toys.
  • Loss of new skills, such as toilet training or having difficulty reading.
  • Loss of balance or unsteady walking.

What Causes a Concussion?

The skull protects the brain, and spinal fluid serves as a protective cushion between the skull and brain. A concussion occurs when an impact results in injury to the brain. Even if a collision does not result in direct impact of the head, a person can still experience head trauma. For example, in a car crash, if a vehicle suddenly stops, it can cause an occupant’s head to jolt back and forth. This can cause the brain to bang up against the skull.

A concussion is a form of trauma to the brain that occurs from an impact. The injury can cause brain damage that interferes with nerve signals. This interference is what causes concussion symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of a Concussion?

Symptoms are varied and can arise immediately after impact, or symptoms may take days or weeks to manifest. Some people lose consciousness immediately after impact for a short amount of time; this is relatively uncommon. The inability to recall events prior to or following the injury at first impact is another sign of a concussion. Often, people with a concussion will simply feel confused.

Symptoms of concussion usually fall into four categories: cognitive, physical, emotional, and sleep disturbances.

  • Cognitive: Cognitive symptoms include mental confusion or fogginess.
  • Physical: Physical symptoms can include headaches, nausea, light or noise sensitivity, and dizziness.
  • Emotional: Emotional symptoms can include irritability, sadness, or nervousness.
  • Sleep disturbances: Sleep disturbances include being sleepy more frequently or wanting to sleep much less than normal.

It is important to be sure that those involved in car accidents seek medical attention immediately. Signs that a medical professional will look for to detect a concussion include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Uneven pupil size
  • Inability to recognize places or people
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Unusual behavior

Recovering From a Concussion

Most people recover fully after a concussion. However, the timing for full recovery varies. Factors in the speed of recovery include the severity of the injury, the state of well-being at the time of injury, and how the injured person is cared for after the injury.

The most important step to do after a concussion and seeking medical attention is to rest. The brain requires time to heal. It is best to refrain from most activities, such as work, school, and sports, until symptoms resolve. If symptoms return, it is an indication that activities have been resumed too quickly.

Be careful to avoid any activity that could result in reinjury. If the brain has not had time to heal and it is reinjured, then brain swelling and permanent brain damage are possible. Children and young adults are more susceptible to these types of problems than adults.

Protecting Child Passengers

Protecting your child from injury in a car crash is paramount. Seat belts designed to accommodate adults are not adequate to protect children. It takes specially designed car seats or booster seats to safety transport small children in vehicles. Most safety seats are designed for use in conjunction with seat belts.

Booster seats work for children who have outgrown their car seats. A booster seat places a child in a position that enables the seat belt to work effectively. The longer a child uses a booster seat, the greater the protection from car accident injuries. Boosters are appropriate for most children between 8 and 13 years old.

The best position in the vehicle for the safety seat will change as a child grows. Children younger than 1 year old should be placed in a rear-facing car seat. Children 2 years old and up should be placed in a front-facing car seat equipped with a harness and tether.

The location of the seat in the vehicle is also important. Studies have shown that children are less likely to be injured in a front or side-impact collision if they are seated in the second row of seats.

Most states require adherence to specific child safety protections based on age. While each state regulates these devices differently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides important information on how to select them based on the age, size, and weight of the child. Using size and age-appropriate car seats and boosters will maximize protections if secured correctly.

Norristown Car Accident Lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. Help Clients Who Have Collision-Related Concussions

It can be terrifying to discover that your child has an accident injury, especially if it is one that involves the brain. If your child was injured by a negligent motorist, contact our Norristown car accident lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. today. Contact us online or call us at 267-861-7100 for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Montgomery County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Chester County, and Norristown, Pe