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You suffer a head injury in an accident. You go to the emergency room for an examination. They send you home. Everything must be OK, right? Not necessarily.

A California-based study found most head-injury patients are not getting adequate follow-up care. What they may not tell you: Your long-term health could be in jeopardy.

The statistics

Researchers studied 831 victims suffering from a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury. They found fewer than half – 44% – received follow-up care within three months and that more than half of the patients did not receive handouts urging follow-up care. The study’s co-authors point out that physicians have a duty to treat concussions with the same level of care that they do other health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Part of the problem may be that most attention focuses on high-profile cases, such as football players. Researchers say all head-injury victims should pursue care from a specialist. They note someone in a car accident or who falls down stairs faces the same dangers, and that doctors should not treat concussion as a minor injury.

The dangers

The study found about one-third of victims suffered moderate to severe symptoms. Some concussion symptoms are immediate. They include:

  • Headaches and head pressure
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue

Other symptoms are long-term and have a dramatic effect on your quality of life. They include concentration issues, irritability, depression, light and noise sensitivity and problems sleeping.

The fallout

A concussion can endanger your health and livelihood. You may not be able to work and provide for your family.

It may seem as if no one cares about your “minor injury.” They want you back to normal. You would like nothing more, but you are suffering every day. If the health care system is failing you, protect your health and your rights.