The Dangers of Flying with a Concussion
A concussion is a “mild” traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs when an outside force causes the brain to forcefully hit the interior of the skull. This type of injury is a common side effect of car accidents, sports-related injuries, bad falls, and other serious events. These brain injuries are considered “mild” because they usually aren’t life-threatening, and patients typically recover within a few days or weeks.
Can I Fly If I Have a Concussion?
It is typically safe for you to fly after a concussion, but highly recommended to wait until concussion symptoms subside and that you get a doctor’s approval. Factors such as how recent was your concussion, how severe your symptoms are, and how long you've had your symptoms, will affect your decision. For example, if you have had a traumatic brain injury with excessive bleeding, traveling the days following the accident may not be advised.
Being at the airport and on a plane can be stressful on your body as well. Many people experience ear distress, equilibrium loss, “airplane headaches,” and many other uncomfortable afflictions during a flight. These conditions are usually triggered by changes in altitude, cabin pressure, turbulence, and airplane speed. Consequently, some people report that flying in airplanes makes their concussion symptoms worse.
Will Flying Affect Recovery Time?
Few studies have been done to analyze the effects that flying has on concussion recovery. One study done on college athletes and military cadets did not show any effects on recovery time or symptoms after flying within hours of the injuries. While another study of NHL players showed longer recovery time when flying within six hours after a concussion.
It is always a good idea to seek the advice of your doctor to determine whether flying is recommended and how it can impact your recovery.
Tips to Prepare for Air Travel
Sometimes circumstances are beyond us, and it can take months for a concussion to heal – especially if the accident survivor has post-concussion syndrome. If you need to travel for whatever reason, follow these tips below:
- Sit in a dim room and avoid strenuous activities. Security checks, fighting for overhead bin space, trying to step around packed-in passengers – are all considered strenuous activities that can make your concussion worse.
- Find a travel buddy who can accompany you on the trip and keep tabs on you if you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Plan ahead and organize your itinerary so you are not stressed with figuring the details out during the trip.
- Make plans for transportation that does not involve driving yourself. Driving in a new location can be extremely stressful and may worsen your symptoms.
- Schedule time to rest after you return from your trip so you have adequate time to recover from fatigue or symptoms.
Signs You May Have a Serious Concussion
Accident survivors and anyone suffering from concussion symptoms need to see a doctor as soon as possible. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following symptoms could be indicators of a more serious condition:
- Convulsions or seizures
- Loss of consciousness
- Intense and persistent headaches
- Weakness or numbness
- Decreased coordination
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
- Anisocoria (unequal pupil sizes)
- Inability to recognize people or places
Tips to Minimize Post-Concussion Syndrome During a Flight
Post-concussion syndrome is a unique disorder in which the symptoms of a brain injury last for weeks or even months after an accident. Some experts claim that post-concussion symptoms are a side-effect of structural damage to the brain or the body’s nervous system. This condition tends to affect people with a history of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and other cognitive or psychological issues. You need to check in with a doctor before stepping on a plane if you’re still suffering the symptoms of a concussion.
Air travel can exacerbate the symptoms of a concussion. Take the following steps to mitigate the potential complications associated with post-concussion flying:
- Be well rested before the flight.
- Stay hydrated.
- Avoid reading or watching movies.
- Bring earplugs to block out loud noises.
Have You Sustained a TBI After an Accident? Pursue Maximum Compensation Today.
Contact the brain injury attorneys at Scarlett Law Group if you or a loved one has sustained a brain injury due to the negligence of a person, corporation, or government entity. Our firm is widely recognized as one of the leading personal injury trial firms in California, and for good reason – we’ve recovered multiple multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of our clients.
Call Scarlett Law Group at (415) 688-2176 to speak with an experienced brain injury lawyer.