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What is second impact syndrome?

On Behalf of | Dec 23, 2021 | Injuries |

No matter their age or health, individuals can suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in nearly any type of accident. From a motor vehicle collision and fall from height to a sports injury and falling debris, a TBI can lead to concussion, brain swells and cognitive impairment. Unfortunately, when a second head trauma closely follows the first the impact can be lethal.

Second impact syndrome (SIS) can occur when an individual suffers a second concussion before thoroughly resolving the symptoms of the previous injury. This second injury can lead to devastating consequences such as severe swelling. This swelling inside the cranium could result in herniation of the brain. Sadly, the second collision need not be severe to produce these catastrophic results. A minor blow to the head or even an impact to the chest or back that causes a whiplash motion can trigger SIS.

Are there common signs and symptoms?

While there is not always an immediate loss of consciousness, the patient’s condition often rapidly deteriorates. Even though every medical situation is unique, there are certain signs and symptoms that loved ones can watch for, including:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Loss of eye movement
  • Dilated pupils
  • Respiratory distress

When an individual suffers a second concussion before the symptoms of a previous head injury have fully healed, the results can be dramatic. While the circumstances that lead to an SIS are rare, the event is often fatal. If the individual does not die from the trauma, they will likely struggle with severe cognitive disabilities for life.