Concussion

Concussion pic scaled 500x500 1

 

Often times chiropractors see patients who are suffering from the effects of concussion. Recently I have been helping a lovely lady who had accidentally hit her head against a gravestone. Her symptoms have impacted her greatly, so hopefully this blog will shed some insight in to the nature of concussion and ways you can help the body in its healing process.

What is Concussion?

Concussion is referred to as a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), and is usually the result of a direct impact to the head. The majority of concussion cases are caused by sporting injuries. In recent years there has been a lot of mainstream press focus on contact sports and the longterm affect on the brain. Repeated blows to the head can have significant longterm consequences later on in life, potentially linked to depression, Parkinson’s and chronic encephalopathy (1).
Concussion may also occur in other incidents where there is a trauma to the neck and skull, such as car accidents and falls. Fortunately the vast majority of mild traumatic brain injuries are transient and resolve in time, but some people may benefit from careful expert management to allow the body to function better and help the healing process.

Signs and Symptoms of concussion

A wide range of symptoms can result from head injury, depending on the force and location of the impact. Sometimes the symptoms develop a few days after the trauma, in fact a third of cases develop in to a persistent post concussive syndrome, defined as symptoms lasting more than 4 weeks in adolescents and 2 weeks in adults.
Symptoms can range from pain, cognitive changes and neurological symptoms, the most common being headache. Other symptoms include:

headache, vomiting, dizziness and nausea
-Changes in motor coordination and balance
Neck and head pain
-Visual impairment, seeing double, seeing fuzzy lines in the visual field
-Sensitivity to light and sound
-Difficulty focussing, loss of attention span, problems with memory recall
-Difficulty concentrating
-Mood changes
-Change in sleep patterns
-Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

Red flag signs and symptoms

If you experience a loss of consciousness, tingling and numbness in the arms or legs, a worsening headache, convulsions and vomiting, you should seek immediate medical care. Seeing double, significant neck pain, and changes in mood such as aggressiveness or agitation, are also reasons to seek out emergency medical care. I would suggest that any case of concussion, no matter how seemingly mild, should be checked over by a medical professional.

Diagnosing Concussion

Concussion diagnosis is based on the history of trauma, whether direct or indirect. There are no specific tests to definitively identify it. In fact there is no universally accepted single definition of mild traumatic brain injury that is agreed upon by everyone (2).
It is thought that around 88% of concussion cases are unrecognised (3), often times because athletes minimise their injuries in order to carry on competing.
In short, if you suffer any of the symptoms listed above, you are suffering from concussion.

Treatment of Concussion

Whilst most cases will resolve within 4 weeks, certain treatments can be beneficial to ameliorate the symptoms and help the recovery process. Chiropractic management focuses on the health of the nervous system and the affects this has on the spine. By addressing areas in the neck where tension is restricting the movement, as well as cranial techniques that work on the skull, chiropractic may help aspects of concussion like neck pain and headache.
We can also advise on ways to help management the symptoms. Some tips my patients have found useful are:

-Avoiding bright lights and loud sounds (particularly in cases of light/sound sensitivity)
-Blue light filtered glasses may help in cases of light sensitivity
-Gentle walks and stretching to help move the body
-Gentle neck mobilisation and massage
-Taking adequate rest, including sleep when the body asks for it
-Keeping well hydrated
-Avoiding sports and other activities that could potentially cause another head injury
-Activities that promote deep relaxation such as forest bathing, floatation and very gentle yoga

Background info from: Wikipedia contributors. (2022, July 27). Concussion. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11:31, August 24, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Concussion&oldid=1100784567
1.Kenneth Maiese (January 2008). “Concussion”. The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook. Archived from the original on 2014-12-02.
2. Comper P, Bisschop SM, Carnide N, Tricco A (October 2005). “A systematic review of treatments for mild traumatic brain injury”. Brain Injury. 19 (11): 863–80.
3. Delaney JS, Abuzeyad F, Correa JA, Foxford R (August 2005). “Recognition and characteristics of concussions in the emergency department population”. The Journal of Emergency Medicine. 29 (2): 189–97.