A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that can affect everyone, from infants to the elderly. This type of TBI is typically caused by a bump or blow to the head but can even be the result of a jolt that causes the body to move rapidly from side to side or back and forth.
Even though concussions are considered a relatively mild form of traumatic brain injury, the effects can be serious. While this type of brain injury is rarely fatal, it can affect memory, judgment, reflexes, speech, balance, and muscle coordination.
A concussion is also sometimes accompanied by a temporary moment of amnesia that “blacks out” what happened just before or after the accident.
The brain is the control center for the whole body, and injuries like a concussion can leave some lasting ramifications on your physical well-being, even if the impact was solely on the head.
Nerves stretch all throughout the body, carrying information back to the brain, which interprets this information. In other words, brain injuries can have a total body effect, even if no other part of the body was injured.
Seeing a Buford concussion specialist at Optimum Health can help you better understand the lasting effects a minor TBI creates and build a course of action on how to address the effects accordingly.
Take control of your health with the resources available from our local team of professionals. To speak with a trusted member of our team and schedule a neurological evaluation for a concussion, contact us online or call (678) 714-3053.
How to Know if You Have a Concussion?
After a bump to the head, it is reasonable to wonder if you could be at risk for a concussion. Symptoms of this minor TBI range in severity, but it is always crucial that you see a doctor for a concussion test if you truly suspect an injury.
Never try to self-diagnose a concussion, as many complications can arise when a head injury is involved. Because a concussion can affect your judgment and memory, self-diagnosing this type of injury is unproductive and could even be dangerous.
Head injuries are incredibly complex, which opens the door for a wide range of symptoms and possible tell-tale signs.
Initial symptoms of a concussion generally show themselves soon after the incident takes place. More intense symptoms may take a bit longer to show up, but many patients report knowing that something ‘doesn’t feel right’ shortly after impact.
Some of the most common symptoms of a concussion include:
- Lack of coordination
- Slurred speech or changes in speech patterns
- Ringing in the ears
- Feeling tired or fatigued
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling like something is ‘off.’
Ways a Buford Concussion Specialist Can Treat Your Condition
Treatment of a concussion often requires help from a neurological specialist as well as a physical therapist. A neurologist can go over a series of questions and tests with you while evaluating your response time, balance, pupil dilation, and other key factors.
Nerve conduction testing may be used in cases of poor motor functioning to rule out nerve damage at the local level. They will then likely prescribe a routine of rest, hydration, nutritious foods, and physical therapy.
Physical therapy is often critical after a concussion in order to ensure the restoration of proper motor functions. Balance, reaction times, coordination, and even strength can all be affected by a concussion.
In severe cases, the injury victim may have to “relearn” how to perform simple tasks like bending over to pick something up without losing balance.
Further, low-impact aerobic exercise has been shown to improve recovery in concussion patients by both stimulating the brain pathways for motor functioning while encouraging oxygen to flow throughout the body.
A concussion patient may also see a nutritionist for a recommended diet high in anti-inflammatory and “brain health” foods.
Chiropractic adjustment and massage therapy are also often recommended because injuries and accidents leading to a concussion often also affect the upper spine, neck, and middle back.
How Are Concussions Diagnosed?
In some ways, diagnosing a concussion can be complex because symptoms will rarely appear in any imaging scans. Instead, a neurological examiner will analyze the details of the accident and conduct a simple series of tests that assess aspects of the brain’s functions.
Your doctor may order a CT or MRI scan if you show signs of a more serious brain injury, such as brain bleeding, but this mild TBI will require a specialized concussion test to conclusively diagnose a patient.
During your concussion test, the neurological examiner may evaluate your:
- Ability to pay attention
- Facial expressions
- Response times
Who Is at Highest Risk for a Concussion?
A concussion can affect anyone at any age, but some people are more likely to experience a minor TBI than others. Children under four and the elderly face a high risk of concussions due to their greater risk of suffering a fall.
Notably, concussions pose a large risk to adolescents who participate in athletics. In fact, concussions in adolescents ages 15-19 have skyrocketed.
A concussion is a commonly sustained injury after a car accident and is typically caused by being violently jerked from the impact. Military personnel, victims of abuse, and athletes are also at a higher risk for concussions due to their unique situations.
Every year there are about 3.8 million reported concussions from athletic injuries alone in the U.S.
Finally, those who have previously experienced a concussion have a much greater susceptibility to enduring another one and with less force required to do more damage. In fact, a person who has already experienced a concussion is considered to be between 3x-5x more likely.
This is typically attributed to unbalanced brain chemistry, which occurs after even a minor TBI.
Students and Concussions
Student athletes are commonly affected by concussions, which can make their schedule’s a lot more complex. A student who experienced a concussion will need to take at least a few days off of school to let the initial symptoms of their concussion calm down.
It is important not to overwhelm your brain while managing the early effects of a concussion, ensuring the student gets plenty of bed rest and enjoys a stress-free environment for the coming days is crucial for rapid recovery.
The general rule of thumb is that the student should avoid partaking in any activity that would require brain processes affected by the concussion; avoid cell phones, televisions, gaming sets, loud music, music through headphones, reading, or doing homework.
When the student feels physical improvements such as dissolving headaches, feelings of clarity, and passing of a post-concussion neurocognitive test, parents will need to work with school administration to transition the student back into their academic schedule.
Extra time on homework, the ability to audio-record lectures, extra breaks in class, copying notes, and leaving the classroom early to avoid crowded hallways are all small ways to help a student return to normalcy.
Slowly working back into physical activity should also be encouraged at this stage, but limited.
What Can I Do to Prevent a Concussion?
With the right safety measures in place, preventing a concussion may be possible. While we can’t predict future injuries, we can attempt to stop them from happening with simple mindfulness and practicing common safety measures.
Even though there is no guaranteed way to prevent a concussion, following these protective steps can greatly decrease your chances of enduring one:
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- Helmets are important not just for cyclists and skateboarders but also for horse-back riders, skiers, and those in any contact sport.
- Invest in safety gates on stairs for young children.
- Use hand-railings.
- Strategically place flashlights around the home so you are never walking in the dark.
- Install safety guards on windows.
Healing From a Concussion
Around 80% of concussions resolve on their own within two weeks, but taking the proper care to heal is necessary for promoting a smooth recovery process.
Acute Symptomatic Phase
In the first phase of the recovery process, the acute symptomatic phase, the patient is still feeling the bulk of the symptoms of their concussion. Someone facing the initial aftermath of a concussion should not be working, doing exercise, or partaking in any strenuous activities.
Similarly to student-athletes, all persons managing the early days of a concussion should avoid doing anything that requires brain processes affected by the injury.
The second stage of recovery begins when many of the inhibiting symptoms like headaches and dizziness fade away, allowing you to slowly resume certain activities of your daily life.
For example, watching tv and reading are activities that you could ease into in order to gauge how you feel around the stimuli. This is the stage where chronic problems would typically present themselves, like persistent symptoms that refuse to settle down.
Persistent symptoms could be an indication of some additional problems that must be addressed by a medical professional.
Do You Have to Get Knocked Out to Have a Concussion?
Some people may lose consciousness at the time of concussion-causing impact, nevertheless, in most cases, the concussed will remain entirely conscious.
Interestingly enough, staying conscious doesn’t stop temporary amnesia from forming, and many people who remain conscious through clashes won’t remember being awake for it.
A concussion may also not injure the brain exactly where the site of the blow or jolt took place. The force of a hit can cause a concussion to form where it was struck, but also directly opposite of where the impact happened due to brain tissue moving from the force of the incident.
Neurology Services at Optimum Health Rehabilitation Center
A concussion can be an overwhelming injury, but you don’t have to manage the recovery process alone. You’ll gain a skilled team of specialists who are committed to your concussion treatment when you come to Optimum Health.
We will perform diagnostic tests that offer insight into your mental status, motor functions, sensory functions, coordination, and much more. After testing is completed, we’ll put together an action plan to further treat not just your mind and nerve tissues but your entire body.
Our staff is passionate about providing aid to each patient that we see and is dedicated to their long-term wellness.