Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury (TMI) resulting from blunt or sudden impact to the head or body, causing the brain to rapidly move back and forth, with some common causes being falls, sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents, or whiplash.
This shock movement can result in the brain bouncing or twisting in the skull, prompting chemical changes in the brain or potentially damaging brain cells.
Treating concussions as soon as symptoms present themselves is still incredibly essential to prevent potential long-term effects and outcomes.
With this in mind, here are some common symptoms of concussions and potential solutions.
Visual and vestibular complications
Symptoms of a concussion often come on quickly, one of the most immediately noticeable being sudden changes in visual and vestibular (inner ear) capability and sensitivity.
These factors may include the following:
- Blurry or double vision
- Difficulty focusing
- Difficulty reading
- Light sensitivity
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Ringing in the ears
- Difficulty maintaining balance
Physical side effects
While some symptoms may be quicker to notice, other physical effects may take a couple of days to develop.
Such effects include:
- Headaches or pressure in the head
- Noise sensitivity
- Feeling tired/fatigued
- Difficulty maintaining balance or walking
- Challenges sleeping
- Nausea and vomiting
Of course, concussions are traumatic brain injuries, and any damage to the brain will likely impact overall brain function, including thinking.
Such side effects may be:
- Delayed thinking or processing speed
- Brain fog
- Slurred speech
- Deteriorated or limited attention span
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty finding words
Within the same realm of thinking obstacles, brain trauma can also significantly impact our emotional state, resulting in mood swings or sudden changes in behaviour.
Signs to look out for include:
- Dissociation or feeling disconnected
- Increased nervousness or anxiousness
- Depressed mood
While this falls within the category of physical side effects, head impacts and injuries often result in damage to the neck, as well.
This trauma may cause:
- Muscle pain
- Tight or weakened muscles
- Limited or poor range of motion (difficulty moving head and neck)
Treatment and solutions
For many patients, a concussion is a life-changing event that takes an extended time to heal.
Each injury is different, and treatment plans must be customized to the individual. First and foremost, it is imperative to seek medical treatment immediately after a traumatic head injury or as soon as any of the above symptoms present.
Once diagnosed, medical professionals will conduct several assessments, including a concussion assessment, orthopaedic assessment, and neurological assessment, to most accurately determine the best course of action surrounding treatment.
These tests often comprise hearing, visual, strength and sensation, balance, coordination and reflex testing to assess physical impacts. Then, medical professionals will graduate to cognitive testing, comprising memory, concentration and tests surrounding recalling information.
Regarding treatment, relative rest is the most appropriate way to help your brain recover. This includes reducing activities that require critical thinking or mental concentration, such as watching TV, reading, texting, or using a computer, for at least the first 48 hours.
Limiting physical activity is also recommended, as these can commonly exacerbate symptoms and hinder recovery.
From there, one can begin treating the various symptoms individually, such as neck trauma, through massage therapy and potentially chiropractics from a registered professional to help alleviate some pain and discomfort. Other treatment approaches may include active rehabilitation and targeted manual therapy.