Many people experience a concussion without ever being diagnosed because they think their head impact was not too bad! You don’t have to play sports to get concussion either!! Concussions are a type of mild traumatic brain injury and nothing to take lightly. Concussion symptoms can vary from mild to severe and may even result in something called Post Concussion Syndrome. So what should you do if you had a concussion? Stay wake to make sure you don’t go into a coma while sleeping or is there more to do? In my practice, I see many who were involved in concussion injuries and utilizing Brain Based Neurology and Posture, as well as Craniosacral Therapy plays a huge role in undoing some of the damage but let’s first explore some basics!
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a closed brain injury that does not show up on an MRI or X-Ray. This is why they commonly go undiagnosed. The mechanism of injury for a concussion consists of the brain being forcefully shaken within the skull resulting from a jolt to the body or head. This injury is very commonly seen in football players who experience helmet to helmet contact, but concussions can be seen in a variety of cases and you don’t have to be a heavy duty athlete to experience it either!
What are concussion symptoms?
- Tinnitus- ringing in the ear
- Problems focusing
- Loss of consciousness
- Dazed appearance
- Blurring Vision
Someone who is concussed may experience only one or a handful of these symptoms at a time. Symptoms can typically subside within a few days following the initial contact, or they can linger for a few weeks to months. This lingering symptoms for weeks or even months following the initial injury is termed Post Concussion Syndrome. It is at this point people typically look for treatment to find some kind of relief. A common finding with a concussed person is eye movement issues which later on play a huge role in balancing and coordination. To clarify, I am not talking about visual acuity but visual input to the brain here which is a part of the Brain-based Neurology and Posture exam. In this video, you will see a part of what this exam looks like!
With our brain being the control center of our bodies, it really is a structure we want to protect and take care of. One concussion can cause a great deal of damage, permanent or not. What about the person who has had 5, 8 or even more concussions in their lifetime?
…BUT my scan did not show anything?
Yes, it does not have to. Typically, if there is a hematoma, that shows on the scan but just as not every major impacts, causes bruising on your body, not every concussion causes bruising either. This does NOT mean that the effects of the impact are minimized and not worth looking into!
Our central nervous system, which consists of the brain, spinal cord and associated nerves, is the control center of our bodies. Damage to this system can be detrimental to health and impacting us on every level. After experiencing multiple traumas, the brain may begin to show signs of permanent damage that can be subtle enough to miss. At some point, which is different for everyone, the brain will not fully heal. Long term effects can be seen in someone who has experienced multiple concussions, or even in a person who has only had one. Someone who has experienced multiple concussions may experience trouble with the following:
- Motor Skills
Although concussion symptoms typically subside within a week, there is still a time period in which another head injury can occur before your brain has fully healed from the last one. In this case, the damage is typically much worse and may even result in death. This is known as Second Impact Syndrome. At my office, these are typically what bring concussed individuals; unfortunately, so much time is wasted by then and the workload is a lot more but certainly, it is better to do the right work, now than later.
There is more and more research being done on the long term effects of repetitive head trauma, and not just in cases where a concussion is diagnosed. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease that is associated with repetitive head trauma. Unfortunately, CTE can only be diagnosed during an autopsy. Symptoms of CTE present similarly to know symptoms of Dementia and Alzheimers. Repetitive head trauma not only impacts the central nervous system but can have adverse effects on other parts of the body.
What is the treatment for Concussion?
At my office, after a thorough examination of the patient which is not limited to the spinal exam but Brain-based Neurology and Posture as well as movement assessment, the treatment is going to be based on what parts of the brain with regards to the posture and balance need to be activated. This is all explained in Brain-based Neurology and Posture on my website, The Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization protocols are then introduced and worked into the treatment session. Fun, exciting sessions on each visit which allow us to walk down the neurological path of the brain to the body part, developmental kinesiology (what we as babies did to facilitate movement) and of course, the adjustment to activate the nervous system. ART or Active Release Technique is commonly used at the beginning of the treatment phase to allow a better and more productive session each and every time.
Why does my neck hurt after a concussion?
What is closely related to a concussion but missed almost always is the neck. EVERY SINGLE concussed patient in my practice has had neck pain that was either absent before their concussion or got so much more intense and frequent after. Imagine the whiplash motion the head experiences when impacted. Now focus on the neck’s involvement in that motion. Although the head experiences the trauma, the neck can be severely impacted. This does not only apply to the cervical spine or the neck only but the surrounding soft tissue including the mid back (upper, middle and/or lower part) as well.
The brain, the spine and the muscles are packaged together in concussion. The neck-stabilizing muscles are small muscles constantly working to keep our heavy heads balanced over our bodies. This is absolutely crucial because in order for the brain to function optimally, it needs to be as parallel to the ground as possible. This task is so much more difficult to maintain if the muscles of the neck and upper back are immediately impacted as a result of head injury. When our head is perfectly centered over the spine, this job can be easily accomplished. Now when we force these muscles to hold our head in different angled positions, they will easily fatigue and hand the job over to another muscle or muscle group. This is how the pathological pattern of movement seen in concussed individuals begins to develop.
During your head injury, your neck muscles activated in an attempt to protect your cervical spine and head. As a result, some muscles have been overstretched (injured) and others possibly in a state of spasm. If a head injury is not rehabbed correctly, pathological movements will develop to guard the injured tissue with posture and overall health can be comprised subsequently.
How Craniosacral therapy helps with concussion symptoms?
Craniosacral therapy is a gentle, non-invasive treatment. This treatment consists of manipulation of the craniosacral system. The craniosacral system consists of:
- The bones in your neck, head & back
- Neck and back muscles, ligaments & tendons
- The meningeal membranes (sacks that surround and protect your brain and spinal cord)
- The cerebral spinal fluid (fluid that nourishes and surrounds your brain and spinal cord)
- Fascia (connective tissue that surrounds other structures in your body)
The cranio-sacral system is responsible for the circulation of the cerebral spinal fluid. This is a unique and rather amazing concept. With all this information, you may be thinking, “ How can this benefit me?”
A concussion can interfere with the flow of the cerebral spinal fluid which would cause the central nervous system to not function properly. This can cause a downward spiral of symptoms all relating to the structure of the craniosacral system. This treatment has been around for many years and is known to help with brain injuries, concussions, headaches, migraines, disorders with the central nervous system, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (all associated with a history of concussion), and many more.
A concussion is nothing to be taken lightly. Remember, the saying: If it is not broken, don’t fix it is the worst you can do with a head injury and just because you don’t have a full-blown nerve or brain damage does not mean that you are in the clear.