Personal Injuries

The Possibility of a Concussion Without Hitting Your Head

Man suffering headaches after an accident

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Understanding Concussions

III. Understanding Brain Concussions Without Head Impact

IV. The Causes Behind Non-Impact Brain Concussions

V. Understanding the Danger of Non-Impact Brain Injuries

VI. What Are the Instances Where Concussions May Occur?

VII. What Are the Usual Signs and Symptoms of Concussions?

VIII. Conclusion



You don't need to hit your head to get a concussion. They're a type of brain injury called a TBI. Despite being one of the most widespread types of TBI, nearly half of all concussions go unreported. Oftentimes, people don't seek help because the symptoms subside relatively quickly. However, even in cases where people feel better quickly, there can still be long-term negative effects.

If you or anyone you know suffered a concussion, you maybe entitled to compensation for the injury and related medical bills. This is because the law typically holds the responsible party liable. That said, a concussion injury lawyer can help you understand what to expect moving forward.

Man suffering from headaches and concussion.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Understanding Concussions

Concussions are intricate injuries that stem from the movement of your brain within your skull, often resulting from forceful impacts or sudden decelerations. This phenomenon occurs when your brain's natural cushioning and protective layers are overwhelmed by external forces, causing it to collide with the inner walls of your skull.

Think of your brain as a delicate, yet vital, organ encased within your skull's bony structure. To safeguard it from everyday jolts and shocks, a thin layer of cerebrospinal fluid surrounds the brain, acting as a cushion. Additionally, the brain is enveloped by several protective membranes that provide an extra layer of defense.

However, when an impact is forceful enough, the brain's resilience can be compromised. Consider a situation where you experience a hard blow to the head, whether it's from a fall, a collision in a sporting event, or even a car accident. The sudden, intense force causes your head to snap backward or to the side, triggering a cascade of events within your skull.

The cerebrospinal fluid and membranes that usually shield your brain from harm may not be sufficient to absorb the energy generated by the impact. Consequently, your brain can collide with the hard, unyielding walls of your skull. This collision leads to the disruption of neural pathways, which can result in a range of symptoms such as confusion, memory issues, headaches, and more.

It's important to understand that even though your skull provides a tough outer shell, it doesn't completely eliminate the risk of brain injury. The brain's delicate structure and intricate neural connections make it susceptible to trauma, even without direct contact. This is why concussions can occur without your head physically striking an object.

In summary, concussions aren't solely caused by the direct impact of an external object on your head. They can also result from the brain's movement within the skull due to powerful forces. These forces can cause your brain to collide with the inner walls of your skull, leading to the disruption of normal brain function. The body's intricate defense mechanisms, including cerebrospinal fluid and protective membranes, are essential for mitigating the risk of such injuries. However, in high-energy situations, these defenses can be overwhelmed, emphasizing the importance of awareness, prevention, and seeking appropriate medical and legal assistance in the event of a concussion.

Graphic illustrating a brain with electrical failures.
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Understanding Brain Concussions Without Head Impact

Concussions, typically associated with direct head impacts, have a more complex nature than meets the eye. While many think of concussions as a consequence of a solid blow to the head, recent studies reveal a startling truth: concussions can occur without a head strike. Let's explore this phenomenon in greater detail, examining brain jarring movements and the intriguing concept of whiplash-associated concussions.

1. Brain Jarring Movements:

Imagine you're in a car accident. Your vehicle comes to a sudden halt, or worse, it's struck with force from behind. In such instances, the impact might not be directed at your head, but your brain can still undergo concussive forces. This is due to the brain's suspension within the skull.

Think of your brain as a delicate mass suspended in a protective fluid. When your body experiences rapid acceleration or deceleration, such as in a car crash or a fall, the brain doesn't instantly adjust to these movements. Instead, it lags behind due to its inertia, causing it to slam into the inner walls of the skull. This collision between brain and skull can lead to the hallmark symptoms of a concussion, even without a direct head impact.

The brain's vulnerability to these jarring movements highlights the intricate balance between mobility and protection. While the fluid cushioning and protective layers guard the brain against everyday jostles, they might falter when subjected to abrupt forces, resulting in brain injury.

2. Whiplash-Associated Concussions:

Whiplash injuries are notorious for their association with car accidents, particularly rear-end collisions. While whiplash primarily affects the neck and spine, it can have a profound impact on the brain as well. The mechanism behind whiplash-associated concussions lies in the rapid back-and-forth movement of the head.

Imagine you're hit from behind in a car crash. The force propels your upper body forward, but your head lags behind for a fraction of a second due to inertia. Then, as your head catches up, it's rapidly jerked forward. This abrupt motion can cause your brain to move within the skull, leading to brain injury.

The brain's internal structures, including delicate neural connections, are susceptible to this kind of movement. Even without a direct head impact, the brain's inertia and subsequent motion can create enough force to cause concussion-like symptoms. It's a reminder that brain injuries can be stealthy, occurring even when the head itself doesn't sustain a blow.

Car accident victim being placed in a neck collar after a whiplash injury.
Image by on Freepik

The Causes Behind Non-Impact Brain Concussions

Non-impact brain concussions challenge our understanding of brain injuries by demonstrating that concussions can occur without direct blows to the head. Two significant mechanisms that underscore this phenomenon are acceleration-deceleration forces and rotational forces. Let's compare these forces, exploring multiple ways they can occur and highlighting their shared characteristic of causing brain injuries without a direct head impact.

Acceleration-Deceleration Forces:

Causes: Imagine scenarios like motor vehicle accidents, where sudden stops or rapid changes in speed take place. Abrupt deceleration causes your brain, encased in cerebrospinal fluid, to lag behind due to inertia. When your brain catches up to the decelerating skull, it can collide with the inner walls of the skull, leading to a concussion. This can occur in rear-end collisions, falls, and activities involving swift deceleration.

Impact: The impact of acceleration-deceleration forces can disrupt neural pathways, resulting in symptoms like headaches, dizziness, cognitive issues, and memory problems. Even though there's no direct head impact, the brain's movement within the skull generates enough force to cause injury.

Rotational Forces:

Causes: In sports-related activities or slip-and-fall accidents, sudden rotational movements of the head can occur. Picture an athlete pivoting rapidly or someone slipping and twisting their head. These forces subject the brain to twisting motions within the skull, potentially leading to brain injuries.

Impact: Rotational forces can damage neural connections and brain tissue, causing symptoms akin to traditional concussions. Headaches, cognitive issues, and emotional changes can arise from the brain's susceptibility to twisting forces, even without a direct hit.

Vector graphic of crash test dummies impacting a wall.
Image by brgfx on Freepik

Shared Characteristic: No Direct Head Impact:

Both acceleration-deceleration and rotational forces share the unique characteristic of causing brain injuries without the head directly striking an object. Instead, these forces rely on the brain's movement within the protective confines of the skull to generate concussive effects.

Understanding the Danger of Non-Impact Brain Injuries

Brain injuries without direct impacts, although not visible to the naked eye, can be incredibly dangerous due to their deceptive nature. Often overlooked or downplayed, these injuries pose a significant threat to brain health and overall well-being. This section delves into the reasons behind this peril and the alarming consequences of ignoring symptoms.

Ignoring Symptoms: The Adrenaline Rush and Machismo Syndrome

In moments of sudden trauma, like a car accident or a fall, the body often experiences an adrenaline rush. This surge of adrenaline can mask pain and symptoms, creating a false sense of well-being. This phenomenon, combined with societal pressures like the "machismo strong man syndrome," leads many individuals, particularly men, to dismiss or belittle the significance of symptoms.

This bravado-driven mindset can be perilous, as it encourages individuals to tough it out and avoid seeking medical attention. The allure of appearing strong and invulnerable overshadows the subtle signals that the brain might be injured. Unfortunately, this mindset disregards the intricate complexities of brain health, potentially exacerbating the long-term consequences of a non-impact brain injury.

Man showing he is ok with thumbs up, his inner self suffering in pain.
Image by master1305 on Freepik

The Long-Term Risks: A Time Bomb in Disguise

Non-impact brain injuries may not present immediate, visible damage, but they are far from harmless. Ignoring symptoms and neglecting medical care can be likened to a ticking time bomb. As adrenaline subsides and reality sets in, the true impact of the injury becomes evident.

The brain, a delicate network of interconnected cells and pathways, can be disrupted by even minor injuries. Symptoms like headaches, memory problems, and cognitive issues are not to be taken lightly. Neglecting these signals denies the brain the opportunity to heal properly, potentially leading to chronic issues, prolonged recovery, or even permanent damage.

The Silent Killer: Delayed Complications and Secondary Risks

Perhaps even more concerning is the potential for delayed complications and secondary risks. A non-impact brain injury left untreated can set the stage for future problems. Issues such as post-concussion syndrome, mood disorders, and cognitive decline can emerge over time, quietly deteriorating brain health. This insidious progression can be aptly described as a silent killer, gradually eroding cognitive function and overall quality of life.

Listen to Your Body, Prioritize Brain Health

Non-impact brain injuries are deceptive precisely because they lack immediate visible cues. However, the absence of visible trauma doesn't negate the seriousness of the injury. Ignoring symptoms due to an adrenaline rush or societal pressures can be detrimental in the long run, potentially turning a treatable condition into a lifelong burden.

It's crucial to recognize that brain health is non-negotiable. Prioritizing your well-being over societal expectations is an act of wisdom, not weakness. Seeking prompt medical attention, even when symptoms seem minor, is the first step in preventing a silent injury from becoming a silent killer. Remember, your brain's health is a treasure worth preserving.

Vector graphic of man getting a brain scan
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

What Are the Instances Where Concussions May Occur?

1. Pedestrian Accident

If you're walking down the street in the path of a car, you're at risk of getting hit. Even if you're hit right in the middle of the crosswalk, the driver doesn't have enough time to hit the brakes. This means the driver generally won't do anything to avoid you, so you're insignificant danger from the moment you step out into the street.

2. Sports Injuries

If you're playing a sport, you're at significant risk for a concussion. This is true even if you're not the one getting hit. Both teams will take shots at the opposition during a game, so if you're playing, you're more likely to get hit. If someone does get hit, there's a decent chance the person isn't going to hit the ground. Instead, they'll hit someone else. This is why sports injuries are such a big risk.

3. Automobile Accidents

The majority of concussions occur in car accidents. Drivers are always at risk of getting hit by a car that's not paying attention. The consequences can be severe, especially if the driver is distracted. If you're driving and your attention wanders, you can easily hit someone else. Even if you do everything right in your car, a distracted driver can still get in your way and cause a wreck.

Red car totalled in a valley on the side of a road.
Photo by Dominika Kwiatkowska

4. Horseback Riding Accident

Horseback riding accidents, unfortunately, are very common. According to the CDC, there's an average of 54,000 emergency room visits every year from horseback riding accidents. Tack and other equipment can easily cause a horseback riding injury due to negligence. If horseback riding equipment isn't maintained, you can easily fall off the back of a horse and get injured.

5. Truck Accidents

Truck accidents are the riskiest car accidents because trucks are much larger. If a truck runs into you, the driver is at higher risk of getting hurt. That's why truckers wear seatbelts to keep themselves safe. Unfortunately, they aren't required to wear their seatbelts all the time.

If you're in a truck accident and the driver is wearing a seatbelt, none of the impacts is going to hit them. Instead, you're going to take the brunt of the impact.

6. Tree Falls

If a tree is on your property and falls on a passerby, you could be liable. This is because you could have done something to prevent it. If you hire a company to come out and cut down the tree, you're responsible for the damage that results.

Tress can also fall on your property and cause serious damage. If you don't have trees inspected every year, you could be held liable for the damage that results if it falls.

What Are the Usual Signs and Symptoms of Concussions?

a) Dizziness

Dizziness is a common symptom of a concussion. If you've experienced a concussion, you may feel extremely dizzy at first. This is because you're still experiencing some of the effects of the head injury. Dizziness can continue for a few days or for as long as three weeks after the initial injury.

b) Loss of Consciousness

If you lose consciousness, there's a good chance that you suffered a concussion. If you were knocked unconscious and you don't remember what happened when you came to, you may have sustained a concussion.

c) Headaches

Headaches accompany the majority of concussions. It's a common symptom of a concussion because your brain has been injured. Headaches can stick around for up to two weeks.

d) Changes in Behavior

Man rocking back and forth showing frustration and screaming
Image by Freepik

Your behavior can change after a concussion. You might have difficulty concentrating on a job or an assignment at school. You could also be easily confused and have difficulty with your memory. These are just a few of the behavioral changes that can result from a concussion.

e) Mood Swings

Concussions can also cause mood swings. If you notice a change in your mood, that's a symptom of a concussion. It may take some time for your mood to return to normal after you've been diagnosed. TBI scan be very difficult to deal with, especially if you don't know what to expect.

f) Memory Loss

Memory loss is a symptom of a concussion. Suppose you're having difficulty recalling memories of a specific time; that could be signs of a concussion. It could take a while to get your memory back to normal, and it may never go back to being the way it was before the injury.

g) Anxiety

Anxiety is another common symptom of a concussion. After an injury, you can become very nervous and worried about what's going to happen in your life. You always feel as though you're on edge.

g) Dementia

Several studies highlighter by the Alzheimer's organization have illuminated a disconcerting reality: individuals who have experienced moderate and severe TBIs face an elevated risk of cognitive decline and dementia, even years after the initial injury. Among older adults, the findings are particularly striking. Those with a history of moderate TBI exhibited a staggering 2.3 times greater risk of developing Alzheimer's compared to seniors with no history of head injury. The risk escalated even further for those with a history of severe TBI, with a significant 4.5 times greater risk.

It's worth noting that while not all studies unanimously point to this connection, several have corroborated the link between moderate and severe TBI's and a heightened risk of cognitive decline and dementia. This body of research serves as a stark reminder that symptoms of brain injuries, even those without direct impact, can have far-reaching consequences.


Concussions are much more common than people realize. You can suffer a hit to the head and not realize that you've suffered one. If you think that you are currently experiencing it, it's important to know what symptoms to look out for. Some of the most common ones include dizziness and a loss of consciousness.

If you or someone you love has suffered a concussion, you may be entitled to compensation. A concussion lawyer can help you understand what you can expect to happen as a result of your injury. They can also explain to you what you can do to obtain compensation for your injury, including medical bills and lost wages.

If you are looking for experienced accident lawyers in Los Angeles, look no further than our expert practitioners here at Mendez & Sanchez Law. Our attorneys and team members are here to help you through the difficult legal landscape as we pursue the compensation you deserve. Please contact us for your Personal Injury, Auto Accident, Workers' Compensation, Slip and Fall, or other legal needs today!


Absolutely. The forces involved in car accidents can cause your brain to move within your skull, leading to a concussion.

It's essential to seek medical attention immediately. Even without a direct head impact, brain injuries can occur due to sudden movements.

Our experienced personal injury attorneys can assess your case, gather evidence, and advocate for fair compensation for your injuries and related expenses.

Yes, both types of concussions can have similar symptoms and consequences. It's essential not to underestimate the impact of brain injuries.

Our firm has a proven track record of successfully handling brain injury cases. We provide personalized attention and work tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome for our clients.

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