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What is a concussion and how long does it take to recover from it?

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In this blog, we’ll look at the symptoms of a concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury, how long it can take to recover from a concussion and what kind of treatment you need.

How do you know if you have a concussion?

Common symptoms after a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury are headaches that won’t shift with regular painkillers, and feeling dizzy or confused.

Other common symptoms can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Trouble with balance or walking
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Drowsiness and problems staying awake when you usually would be wide awake
  • Loss of memory (amnesia), which usually involves forgetting the event that caused the concussion

These symptoms will usually disappear within a few weeks or months, but for some people, they can persist long-term. If you think you may have concussion, you should always seek medical advice.

How does a concussion get diagnosed and treated?

In the immediate aftermath of a head injury, it’s important you seek urgent medical attention. Your nearest A&E department will assess you and diagnose a concussion.

Treatment for long-term symptoms and post-concussion syndrome can vary, but many doctors will try to treat the individual symptoms you are experiencing and get them under control.

In some instances, your GP may refer you to a head injury specialist, for example, a neurologist or neuropsychologist. Often, these referrals are not readily available, or there are long waiting lists on the NHS, so private appointments may be preferable. One way of funding private medical assessments and treatment is by claiming personal injury compensation.

What to do if you have a concussion

Brain injuries are extremely common, but diagnosis can be complicated. Because problems can arise in the first 24 to 48 hours after a head injury, anyone suspected of sustaining a concussion should be monitored for worsening symptoms (such as the ones we listed above).

If you think you have concussion, there are some steps you can take to help decrease your symptoms and speed up the recovery, such as:

  • Get plenty of rest and avoid stressful situations
  • Use over the counter painkillers to manage headaches, such as paracetamol. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen (or other anti-inflammatory drugs) as these can cause bleeding
  • Do not drink alcohol or take recreational drugs
  • Do not return to usual activity (such as work, school or college) until you have fully recovered. A phased return to activity to build up levels is recommended
  • Do not participate in contact sport until your symptoms have disappeared and for at least three weeks following your injury

How long does concussion last?

A concussion can last for weeks and sometimes months after the injury. In most people, symptoms occur within the first seven to 10 days and go away within three months. However, sometimes, they can persist for a year or more.

What happens if a concussion goes untreated?

There are ways that can help your doctor identify the effects of a concussion, such as assessing your symptoms and other tests that assess your learning and memory skills, your ability to pay attention or concentrate, and how quickly you can think and solve problems. However, signs of a concussion can be subtle and not show up on these tests.

If a concussion goes untreated, it can have nasty, long-term consequences. The brain is very sensitive after an injury and re-injuring the brain while concussed can lead to really serious health problems - far more serious than either of the two injuries alone could cause.

Essentially, it is important to see a doctor to get assessed and receive the support and guidance that you need. Rest is important, but your doctor may recommend gradual, gentle activity.

How the right solicitor can help

Choosing the right solicitor should not only give you legal advice but also help you get the right diagnosis and provide help with your needs following a head injury, such as funding for relevant treatment.

If you’re worried about being misdiagnosed following a head injury and want to know the best course of action to take to ensure you have the greatest chance of a full recovery, download our guide: 

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