Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion after a Car Accident

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can be caused in a car crash.  If not properly diagnosed, the effects of a concussion can be devastating.  But one of the problems is that a concussion is not easily diagnosed if you do not know what signs and symptoms to look out for.  If you have been injured in an auto accident and have any of the following signs, you need to be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible:

  • Headache
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia about the car accident itself
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Fatigue

Other concussion symptoms may not manifest themselves for hours or even days after the car crash.  For example, you might not notice for several days that you are having difficulty sleeping or are more irritable until a few days after the crash.  For purposes of medical diagnosis, it is important to be evaluated by your doctor as soon as you recognize these symptoms.  Some signs of a concussion that might appear days after the car crash are:

  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Irritability
  • Personality changes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Taste disorders
  • Smell disorders

The Mayo Clinic recommends that if you or your child experience a head injury, you should see a doctor within a day or two, even if you have not received emergency care.  In an auto accident, you can sustained a blow to the head either from the steering wheel, the airbag, or from striking your head against the headrest or window.

You should seek emergency medical attention immediately if you experience:

  • Repeated vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness longer than 30 seconds
  • A headache that gets worse over time
  • Changes in physical coordination like stumbling or clumsiness
  • Confusion or disorientation

It is possible to sustain a concussion in a motor vehicle crash even if you do not strike your head on anything in the vehicle.  The sudden acceleration and deceleration forces involved in a whiplash-type injury will cause the brain to move around in the head and can cause bleeding in and around the brain or sheering of the brain’s axons.

Concussion Treatment

The most important thing you can do to recover from a concussion is to give your brain a rest. This means limiting activities that require thinking or mental concentration.  Often, your doctor will recommend that you stay out of work or school, limit TV and video games, don’t read or text or use a computer for several days.  As your symptoms resolves, your doctor may release you gradually back to full duties.  It is important to listen to your doctor’s advice with regard to returning to school, work, and exercise.

Facts the Effect of Child Safety Seats on Injuries

Car Seats and Booster Seats Save Lives

  • Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for children 1 through 12 years old (based on 2007 figures from the National Center for Health Statistics).
  • According to NHTSA, about 9,310 lives have been saved in the last twenty-five years by the proper use of child safety seats.
  • Car seats reduce the chances that an infant (under 1 year old) being killed in a car crash by 71%, and reduce the likelihood to toddlers (1 to 4 years old) by 54% in passenger cars.
  • All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws requiring children to be restrained while riding in cars. Virginia’s laws can be found here.

♦ Car seats work best when used correctly.

  • About 75% of all child safety seats are not used correctly
  • In 2009, among children under 5 in passenger vehicles, an estimated 309 lives were saved by restraint use.

Failure to read and carefully follow the installation instructions included with the car seat as well as those in the vehicle owner’s manual can lead to incorrect installation, exposing child passengers to grave risk of serious injury or death in a crash.

♦ For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers should visit their local inspection stations and refer to the following guidelines for determining which restraint system is best suited to protect children based on their age and size:

Birth – 12 months

For the best possible protection, your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.

1 – 3 years

Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. This may result in many children riding rear-facing to age 2 or older. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.

4 – 7 years

Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.

8 – 12 years

Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs.

Seat Belt Laws in Virginia

Virginia has a simple rule for drivers and passengers seated in the front seat: you must wear a seat belt. There are a number of exceptions for mail carriers, taxi drivers and passengers, and people who have been told by a doctor that they should not wear a seat belt for medical reasons. However, by and large, if you are in the front seat and not wearing a seat belt, you are in violation of Virginia law.

Adults seated in the back seat are not required to wear any sort of seat belt. However, if you’ve ever seen a video of a crash test, you know that you are putting you health and safety in serious jeopardy by taking advantage of this freedom.

Children seated in the back seat are a different story. Children must be either belted in or placed in a child safety seat. Children under the age of eight must be seated in a child safety seat. The law places the responsibility with the driver of the vehicle to ensure that the child is safely secured in his or her seat.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children from ages 3 to 14. An average of four children in that age range are killed every single day in an auto accident. Many of these deaths can be prevented by taking the proper precautions to keep your children safe.

Where to Have Your Child Safety Seat Inspected – Fairfax

Whether you’re a new parent, a parent with a new car or just purchased a new car seat, if you’d like to make sure that your child’s safety seat is properly installed and meets with local law requirements, you can make an appointment at several police stations in Fairfax County to have the seat inspected. A properly installed child safety seat can go a long way in preventing injuries in an auto accident.

  1. Fairfax County Sheriff
    10520 Judicial Drive
    Fairfax, VA 22030
  2. Fairfax Co. PD
    Fair Oaks District 8
    12300 Lee-Jackson Memorial Hwy
    Fairfax, VA 22033
    Phone: 703-591-0966
  3. Fairfax County PD
    Franconia District 6
    6121 Franconia Rd.
    Franconia, VA 22310
    Phone: 703-922-0889
  4. Herndon PD 397
    Herndon Parkway Herndon, VA 20170
    Phone: 703-435-6881 ext. 2372
    Contact: SPO Eddie Stapleton
  5. Fairfax County PD McLean District 3
    1437 Balls Hills Rd. McLean, VA
    Hours: By appointment only
    Phone: 703-556-7750
  6. Fairfax County PD
    Mount Vernon District 2
    2511 Parkers Lane Alexandria, VA 22003
    Hours: Please call for appointment
    Phone: 703-360-8400
    Contact: Staff on Duty
  7. Fairfax Co. PD
    Ops Support Bureau
    3911 Woodburn Rd. Annandale, VA 22003
    Hours: Call for an appointment
    Phone: 703-280-0567
    Contact: MPO Beth Benham


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Fairfax, VA 22030
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