Professional cyclists and even many enthusiasts, can ride thousands of miles a year and participate in many races. The vast majority of these miles are on the sides of roads with less than ideal conditions and sometimes negligent drivers. Crashes happen, and most cyclists will experience a few crashes. As I have discussed before on this blog, I am a bike accident lawyer and a cyclist, I have represented many bike riders for injuries from negligent or even drunk drivers in both Missouri and Illinois. I have personally been in three bike accidents that could have resulted in bad injuries, one from my bike tire getting caught in a wide groove in the road, one from a driver who thought they passed me then side swiped me, and one from me not paying attention and allowing my tire to hit a cyclist in front of me. In all three I was wearing a helmet, one of them cracked and destroyed my helmet. All three resulted in nasty road rash.
If you hit your head as a result of a bike accident, err on the side of caution!
Professional riders participating in races have medical teams respond instantly even when they may not be necessary. The rest of us have to rely on our riding buddies and good judgment when determining if medial treatment is necessary after a bike injury. If you hit your head and lose consciousness, even briefly, go to the hospital, you have likely suffered a concussion. If you suffer symptoms beyond a brief loss of consciousness, such as open head would, go to the hospital! It may also be wise to call an ambulance in case any additional injury was done to your neck or spine. Don't get back on your bike, no matter how tough you are. Your balance is likely affected and could result in another crash.
Pay attention to your CT scan results. The doctors should do a CT and/or and MRI of your head and spine. However, if you CT is negative you are not out of the woods. CT/MRI of the brain often do not show objective evidence of a head injury, most brain injuries cannot be seen. The CT or MRI is primarily looking for severe brain injuries that need immediate intervention such as bleeding on the brain or hemoraging. General swelling and damage to the neurons is typically not visible on diagnostic images.
Many types of trauma to the brain are hard to predict or measure with a machine, your description of your symptoms to a doctor are crucial to be properly evaluated. Symptoms to look for, some you may not think of or realize until you see this, include:
Motor: Weakness or paralysis (hemiplegia), poor balance and coordination; (ataxia), less endurance, abnormal muscle tone and stiffness.
Perceptual: Hearing, vision, taste, smell, touch, and knowing the relationship of the body to fixed objects.
Speech and Language: Difficulty in understanding what is said, or in expressing thought (aphasia).
Cognitive: Thinking, remembering, paying attention, poor judgment, and/or problem-solving.
Memory: A problem storing and/or retrieving information; short or long-term memory loss.
Emotional and Personality changes: Moody, easily frustrated, anxious, angry, depressed, and low self-esteem.
Important symptoms of a potential head injury / Post-Concussion Syndrome:
Level of alertness; Sleep patterns; Endurance for physical and mental activities; Attention span;
Sexual function; Headache; Dizziness; Irritability; Depression; Anxiety; Complaints of being physically sick without apparent reason; Hypersensitivity to noise (phonophobia); Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
Often symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury cannot be seen by others. This can lead to loss of self-esteem and self-confidence; feelings of failure, depression, anxiety, and/or life is "out of control." One of the reasons that TBI is called "the silent epidemic" is that there are thousands of people with TBI who have symptoms that are invisible to others.
Common symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury in adults include:
More problems than usual with mental tasks
Persistent headaches or neck pain
Lethargic thinking, speaking or reading
Continual tiredness, without energy or motivation
Becoming lost or confused
Changes in sleeping patterns, light-headed, losing balance
Blurred vision, tired eyes
Increased sensitivity to sounds or light
Loss of the sense of smell or taste
Irrational or unpredictable mood changes
Ringing in the ears