What is a Concussion?
We used to think that patients needed to lose consciousness to be diagnosed with a concussion. More recent studies have shown that concussions can occur without impact to the head at all, as seen in whiplash injuries. A concussion occurs when there is enough impact to the head and/or body that the brain moves around in the skull causing trauma to brain tissue itself.
Concussion symptoms can include headache, nausea, vomiting, tinnitus, fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, vertigo, blurry vision, unsteadiness, memory loss, confusion, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, and the list goes on. Many patients experience a multitude of symptoms that can range from mild to severe depending on the severity of the concussion and the areas of the brain that sustained the most trauma.
Concussions are life-altering events with the potential for significant consequences for the patient. The effects may not appear immediately, so diagnosis and treatment can be difficult. No two patients are the same, so neither are their manifestations. Even when treatment appears to be successful, and symptoms are relieving, this does not mean the patient is fully healed. Returning to work or play too soon can have a detrimental impact on the healing process. Proper analysis and treatment protocols must be undertaken to ensure safety and full recovery.
Here are 10 facts about concussions that are important to keep in mind.
You DO NOT need to lose consciousness in order to have a concussion.
Symptoms from a concussion are not always immediate.
Helmets do not prevent concussions.
Concussion rates for boys are NOT higher than girls.
When your obvious symptoms are gone it does not mean the concussion is fully healed.
Baseline testing, such as IMPACT testing, is not always an appropriate measure for return to play.
You do not need to be hit in the head to sustain a concussion.
Each person’s concussion symptoms are NOT the same.
Rest is not always the best treatment for a concussion.
You do not need to be playing a sport to sustain a concussion.
Concussion Immediate Steps
If you sustain a concussion, you must give your brain time to heal. You will want to conserve as much energy as possible, but this does not mean that you need to stay in a dark room for days. Instead, we suggest the following protocols:
Limit screen time.
Avoid contact sports and intense physical activity.
Avoid processed food and sugar.
Reduce inflammation by eating organic, whole foods.
If your symptoms continue beyond 7 days, seek further testing with a highly trained and skilled provider.
Carolina Functional Neurology Center’s Approach
Our doctors are highly trained in the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussions (mTBI), and post-concussion syndrome. We will take a close look at all areas of brain function in order to pinpoint the areas of dysfunction that are specific to your brain. In order to obtain the most accurate information about your brain function we use neurodiagnostics to measure balance, coordination, eye movements, timing and rhythm, cognitive function, and more.
Treatment for concussions is designed on an individualized basis. No two brains and concussions are the same, therefore no two treatment plans are the same. Our doctors work one-on-one with each patient to provide thorough treatment and continual monitoring of symptoms from visit to visit. Common treatment modalities include hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neuromodulation, eye movement therapy, vestibular rehabilitation, near infrared light, neurosensory and motor integration tools, cognitive therapies, interactive metronome therapy, and more.
My life had been disrupted by post-concussion syndrome for 1.5 years before finding CFNC (I had a bike accident in my 1st semester of grad school). My symptoms included extreme sensitivity to light and sound, feeling like I was on a boat any time I moved, frequent headaches, and intense mental fatigue. CFNC offered recommendations for a slow and steady recovery, and was very straight with me that they could not promise full recovery but that they were hopeful that I could improve with the program. I had appointments 1-2x per week for about 12 weeks, and I noticed little bits of improvement most weeks. By the end of the 12 weeks, those little bits of progress added up to significant quality-of-life improvements. It’s been about 5 months since therapy ended and I have continued to feel better and better! I still struggle with symptoms, but they’re much less severe and I have way more insight into how to manage them thanks to CFNC’s guidance. If you are trying to decide between an intensive program vs. a slow-and-steady program to treat your concussion, I highly recommend a slower program. Since there’s no straight-forward path to concussion recovery, my 2+ year concussion recovery has involved so much trial and error, and it was so valuable to visit CFNC over an extended period of time so that I could try out their suggestions for a week or two, report back, troubleshoot/adjust as needed, and build off of progress made in a safe and cautious manner. The CFNC doctor was with me for the entirety of my sessions, answering all of my 10,000,000 questions very insightfully, and responding to my concerns with care and attention. I have no regrets about my decision to pursue treatment with Carolina Functional Neurology Center. I feel hopeful that I will fully recover one day.
– Laura, Carolina Functional Neurology Center Patient
If you would like to learn more about our approach to treating concussions, please contact us to schedule a consultation.