Concussions are very common brain injuries that should not be written off as a minor issue. After a bump or blow to the head or any accident that causes sudden, violent movement of the head, you may experience headaches, dizziness, confusion, or simply feel a little off. However, it’s common for a concussion to produce no noticeable symptoms initially. 

In the hours, days, or weeks after an accident, delayed concussion symptoms may develop. These symptoms may be subdued or difficult to pinpoint. Sometimes, the most obvious signs are noticeable to others but not yourself. 

Understanding concussion symptoms, how long they take to appear, and why delayed symptoms are so common is crucial when navigating a personal injury.

What Is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury or TBI and the mildest form of brain injury. That does not mean a concussion is necessarily minor. Concussions can be serious and cause long-term effects. The side effects and dangers of a concussion are amplified if a subsequent concussion occurs too soon after an initial injury. 

Concussions are usually the result of a blow to the head, a fall, or rapid acceleration and deceleration. 

The most common causes of concussions include: 

Contrary to popular opinion, a concussion does not require a blow to the head. There is also no minimum threshold of force necessary to cause a concussion. The NFL commissioned a study that determined blows under 85g were unlikely to result in a concussion. However, a study with helmet sensors recorded more than 104,000 impacts. It found half of recorded concussions were under the so-called “subconcussive” threshold. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Concussion?

At least some symptoms are common within a few hours of a concussion. 

The most common symptoms include: 

  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Issues with auditory processing
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Blurry vision

Amnesia or memory loss is common. It usually involves forgetting the cause of the concussion or the blow to the head. It can also involve lost memory before or after the concussion. 

Some signs of a concussion may be apparent to witnesses: 

  • Temporary loss of consciousness lasting seconds or minutes
  • Slurred speech
  • Forgetfulness
  • Dazed appearance
  • Delayed responses

Loss of consciousness is not necessary for a concussion. After a blow to the head, the victim may complain that they feel foggy, seem out of sorts, and have delayed or unusual speech patterns, coordination, and reactions.

How Long Does it Take for Concussion Symptoms to Appear?

Some concussions have immediate symptoms, but the signs are not always obvious. In general, more severe concussions tend to produce immediately noticeable symptoms – but new symptoms can still develop days later. With mild concussions that do not involve loss of consciousness, it’s more common for symptoms to be delayed. 

There are likely several reasons for delays in concussion symptoms, including the following:  

  • Symptoms like memory issues may be subtle and easy to miss initially 
  • Shock after a crash can mask a brain injury
  • Further damage after the initial injury can be responsible for delayed symptoms
  • A confused person with memory problems and altered awareness may struggle to recognize changes in their mental state

Every concussion and every person is different. There is no way to predict the exact symptoms or how long they will take to develop based on the location of trauma or force. However, the force and location of some injuries are more likely to cause immediately obvious symptoms like loss of consciousness. 

Signs of a concussion are usually apparent within minutes or hours of an injury. It’s common for some or most symptoms to take a few days to develop. Some people experience concussion symptoms that last much longer than usual. In this case, symptoms may persist or worsen, or new symptoms may develop weeks after the injury.

Common Delayed Concussion Symptoms

These concussion symptoms are more likely to be delayed and take hours or days to develop: 

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Memory problems
  • Irritability or other changes to personality
  • Depression
  • Changes to taste or smell
  • Sensitivity to sound or light

Light and sound sensitivity are incredibly common and often delayed. Light sensitivity or photophobia affects about 43% of people, even after a mild concussion. Most people report their sensitivity as severe. It tends to be most severe one to three weeks after the injury and can last up to six months or even years. 

About 50% of people experience sensitivity to sound or phonophobia. Like photophobia, this is often delayed. A number of auditory symptoms are common in the days after a concussion, including tinnitus and issues with auditory processing, like struggling to understand speech over background noise. 

Post-concussive headaches are also common. An initial headache from a head injury may resolve quickly, only to return more intensely later. Research indicates this may be related to excess glutamate and receptor overstimulation. There seems to be a genetic factor as well. In some cases, brain damage from a TBI causes structural damage along pain pathways. 

What Is Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS)?

About 10% to 50% of people who suffer a concussion injury will have persistent symptoms. While most concussion symptoms resolve within a few weeks, post-concussion syndrome (PCS) refers to symptoms that last for months or up to one year or longer. 

Symptoms that tend to last longer with PCS include: 

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Migraines or chronic headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Tinnitus
  • Anxiety
  • Concentration issues
  • Memory problems

It appears that some people are at a higher risk of developing PCS. Elderly people have the highest risk as they are slower to recover from brain injuries and tend to suffer more serious injuries. Women are also at a higher risk. If you have a history of previous concussions, experience significant visual changes, or have initial symptoms that last longer, you may also be at increased risk of PCS. 

Seek Help if You Suspect Delayed Concussion Symptoms 

If you have suffered a blow to the head, a fall, or been in a minor car accident, it’s critical to seek medical treatment right away, even if you do not notice any symptoms. Prompt treatment reduces the risk of further brain damage and long-term consequences. It’s also crucial to connect your concussion to your accident. A delay in treatment can make it harder to recover compensation if someone else causes your head injury. If you believe someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing caused your concussion, consult an attorney right away.

Contact Our Orlando Personal Injury Law Firm For Help Today

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Orlando, Florida, and need legal help, contact our experienced Personal Injury lawyers at Payer Law Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation today.

We proudly serve Orange County and its surrounding areas:

Payer Law Personal Injury Lawyers
6735 Conroy Rd STE 332,
Orlando, FL 32835
Phone: (407) 648-1510