Concussion: A Stark Reality

Concussion: A Stark Reality

Over the past few years it seems as if the term concussion is being thrown around to describe anyone with an injury that causes a headache. Some people even question the accuracy of these diagnoses. The fact is: concussion is a harsh reality to live. And it is extremely important to be aware of the signs & symptoms, as well as the causes and treatment options available to you.

If you reflect on your life, I can bet you’ve had a concussion and didn’t even know that’s what you were experiencing. Typically, this is due to either not being examined by a professional for a concussion, or it was completely missed because the practitioner’s awareness of concussion wasn’t present. Unfortunately, having had a previous concussion places a person at an even greater risk of having another. And each time around it requires less trauma to cause a bigger concussion. In extreme cases, people with repeated, severe concussions suffer from Concussion Syndrome, where they experience concussion symptoms every day of their life, impeding their ability to live.

To prevent this from happening to you, or someone you know, keep reading to learn about the signs, symptoms and causes of concussions, as well as treatment options available to help manage your head trauma after the fact.

Causes:

The brain is essentially a soft sponge that is protected from the outside elements by your skull and the fluid inside it called the cerebrospinal fluid (aka, CSF). The CSF acts like a cushion for the brain to protect it from smashing against the skull when outside forces act on the body. When the force is too big for the CSF to act as a cushion, the brain hits up against the inside walls of the skull, causing a brain injury.

Events that can cause a brain injury & concussion include, but are not limited to:

  • Falling
  • Being shaken
  • Direct trauma to the head
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Bicycling accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Being a victim of physical abuse
  • Blasting injuries

Signs & Symptoms:

Concussion is typically characterized by the following signs and symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness or seeing stars
  • Feeling dazed and confused
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy &/or fatigue
  • Irritability &/or other mood changes
  • Depression
  • Digestive changes
  • Poor appetite
  • Poor sleep or sleeping too much
  • Poor concentration
  • Balance problems
  • Light sensitivity
  • Sound sensitivity

The majority of these symptoms go away within 10 days but for some, these problems persist and may even worsen.

Treatment Options:

Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to those who are trying to manage their life after concussion. These include the following:

No screen time for 10 days:

And by no screen time I mean: no TV/movies, no cellphone, no computer/laptop/ipad/tablet/ipod, etc. Literally, if it has a screen, it’s off limits. One way to think about it is this: if you’re level of boredom is increasing over these 10 days, then you’re on your way to recovery. You’re trying to allow your neurological system to recover from the stress of your injury. Subjecting it to screens actually increases your nervous system activity, resulting in being counterproductive to your recovery.

Limiting, or refraining from, working at all for 10 days:
This is for the same reason as above: your nervous system will not have the opportunity to rest and reset

Eating a clean, anti-inflammatory diet:

Eating a very clean, anti-inflammatory diet is essential to helping your brain and nervous system recover. After a traumatic injury, the body releases all sorts of chemicals that cause inflammation. The initial reaction of the body is important, however, over the long term this inflammation can be detrimental and even hinder your recovery. The best method of determining if you’re eating clean is to see a Naturopathic Doctor.

Receiving care from a Vestibular trained physiotherapist:

A physio trained in vestibular rehabilitation will be able to measure your progress, as well as provide you with individualized homecare to speed up your recover. In addition, these specialists are able to do baseline testing before you receive a concussion, which is helpful in determining the severity of your injury. If you’re playing high risk sports, such as hockey, football, and rugby, it is highly recommended to be baseline tested before playing.

Receiving care from an Osteopathic Practitioner:

Osteopathic Practitioners have extensive training in cranial-sacral work. In addition, there are those of us with are specialty training in concussion management which is called Endocranial Spasm Therapy. Endocranial work allows us to not only calm down the nervous system in a gentle, hands on manner, but it also allows us to bring the mobility back to the nervous system, allowing for a faster recovery.

No matter how you receive a concussion, it’s important to know there are practitioners out there who can help you. If you, or someone you know and love, are living with concussion symptoms and need help with recovery, please contact one of the professionals above to assist you.

Life is meant to be lived carefree and full of joy, not in pain and misery!

 

 

— Candace Kakowchyk, D.O.M.P., D.Sc.O.