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Why is second impact syndrome so dangerous?

On Behalf of | Jan 21, 2022 | Injuries

Whether the injury occurs as the result of a motor vehicle crash, a work injury, a slip-and-fall accident or a sports collision, individuals often fear the devastating symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Unfortunately, the TBI symptoms do not always immediately appear. Additionally, as the TBI affects every individual in a unique manner, the symptoms do not follow a set checklist. For these reasons, a second impact could prove deadly.

While some head injuries have accompanying visual indicators such as lacerations, bumps or bruising, it is not uncommon for a TBI to be hidden from sight.  When a collision jostles the brain inside the cranium, structural and functional damage is likely based on the violence of the motion. Functional damage can include symptoms such as:

  • Concussion
  • Blurred vision
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Chronic pain
  • Dizziness
  • Persistent headaches
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea

How does this relate to second impact syndrome?

While most people understand the dangers posed by a serious traumatic brain injury (TBI), they do not realize that the symptoms can overlap with other conditions, go unnoticed or last for a significant amount of time. If an individual is still suffering from the swelling associated with a concussion and then suffers another TBI, the results could be fatal.

This is second impact syndrome. While rare, it occurs when someone is struggling through the symptoms of a traumatic head impact and then suffers yet another traumatic head impact. Unfortunately, the second impact does not have to equal or exceed the first impact. In fact, a second impact can be minor and still lead to severe disabilities or death.

What can be done?

Individuals must respect the TBI and take as long as they need to heal. During this time, the injured must avoid dangerous activities that could potentially lead to a second head impact. If the concussion symptoms have not yet resolved, the injured individual is at risk for a fatal second impact. After a devastating accident resulting in catastrophic injuries, it is wise to seek a thorough medical assessment and follow the advised treatment plan.