By: Dr John Conde DC, DACNB Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers
Concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury, occurs when there is a mild blow to the head which may or may not lead to a loss of consciousness. This is very important to understand as a concussion is absolutely not synonymous with blacking out. The brain is surrounded by fluid and a protective membrane called meninges which act as a cushion. With a blow to the head the brain is jolted inside the skull and can be bruised. The regions of the brain most commonly affected are the frontal and temporal lobes because of the proximity to the skull. However, physiological effects are seen in the deep brain structures called the basal ganglia as well as the vestibular or balance system.
You may have hit your head and are wondering if you suffered a concussion and if so what would be the standard of care going forward. First off, you need to be able to identify the appropriate signs of a concussion. These are headache, nausea, fatigue, drowsiness, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound, dizziness, brain fog, irritability, and ringing in the ears. If you are exhibiting all or just one of these symptoms there is a good chance you suffered a concussion. When in doubt, get medical attention. It is recommended to seek medical attention from a clinician such as a chiropractic neurologist or a primary care doctor after sustaining a head injury with subsequent symptom pattern. If symptoms are progressive and severe such as losing consciousness, developing seizure activity, developing amnesia, or vomiting it is recommended to seek immediate medical attention at a hospital or emergency room.
After a thorough examination, the clinician will develop a treatment plan that involves active rehabilitation of the regions of the brain that were affected in a graded manner and will also recommend brain rest for 3-5 days. As a result of current research trends, the paradigm has shifted in terms of standard of care after any head injury. It now involves active neurological exercises targeting the physiologically affected regions of the brain as opposed to indefinite rest. The understanding is that acute signs such as nausea or headache may go away in 3-5 days with proper brain rest due to brain adaptation but the dynamic signs which may go unnoticed may linger and progress for years creating maladaptive plasticity. The long term consequences are not well understood but there is growing evidence that may link concussive injuries to memory and cognitive deficiencies, chronic headaches, chronic dizziness, and lack of mental awareness. Therefore it is of paramount importance to pay attention to head injuries and seek proper attention.
Dr. John Conde is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist, one of only one thousand in the country. He holds diplomate status through the American Chiropractic Neurology Board. He provides specialized care for difficult cases of back neck pain, numbness-tingling, vertigo-dizziness balance disorders, fibromyalgia, migraines, AD/HD, autism, and dyslexia. His office is located at the Atlantic Grove in Delray Beach, FL and can be reached at 561-330-6096, firstname.lastname@example.org, and at www.thecondecenter.com