March is Brain Injury Awareness Month so let’s talk about concussions! A concussion is classified as a mild traumatic brain injury or mTBI. A concussion is a brain injury induced by biomechanical forces, such as a blow or trauma to the head, but can also occur from a high velocity movement where the brain moves inside the skull, such as during a whiplash injury. You do not have to lose consciousness to have a concussion, and in fact, most concussions do not result in a loss of consciousness. 80-90% of concussions resolve within 7-10 days. If symptoms persist, a diagnosis of post concussion syndrome aka prolonged concussion symptoms may be warranted to help guide your treatment plan.
In the initial phases of concussion management, it is important to be evaluated by a medical professional in order to monitor symptoms and guide treatment intervention. Treatment recommendations no longer consist of rest in a dark room. Instead, activity should be resumed as tolerated as long as symptoms are not exacerbated.
Concussions are complex injuries since they affect the brain and the brain interacts with every system in the body. There are seven phenotypes of concussion, including: cognitive, oculomotor, emotional, cervical, headache, cardiovascular, and vestibular, with sensorimotor being another potential category, but not a true phenotype. It is common to have several phenotypes present when experiencing symptoms of a concussion and this is why it is so important to work with a rehab team that can help to address all aspects of concussion.
Connecting with a rehab team that understands the full scope of concussion treatment is imperative to a successful recovery. Members of a concussion rehab team may include: neurology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, psychology, neuro optometry, and functional medicine practitioners, among others. Treatment interventions may include vestibular rehab, vision therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, cardiovascular rehab, manual therapy for headaches and neck pain, nutrition and hormone balancing and medications as needed.
It can feel overwhelming to navigate the recovery process when your brain is not operating at full capacity. Continue to advocate for help to meet your needs. Although recovery from a concussion can be complex and slow, healing is absolutely possible!
My favorite resource for all things concussion is Concussion Compass or follow @mollyparkerpt on instagram.