Concussions and the Role of Functional Neurology
Concussion or brain injury is a potentially debilitating condition that is prevalent among children and athletes.
Some symptoms of a concussion develop hours or days after the traumatic brain injury occurred. However, severe or repetitive concussions are likely to result in long-term consequences. These symptoms include:
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
- Irritability, prone to anger, noticeable personality changes
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Sleep disturbances
- Depression and other psychological problems
- Disorders of smell and taste
- Permanent memory damage
A brain injury or concussion in conventional medicine is typically focused on diagnosing and monitoring the symptoms. The visible symptoms are addressed and handled first and foremost. However, the fundamental brain activities are frequently overlooked. Adding more drugs to address the difficulties or exacerbation of symptoms is a common approach. The failure to recognize the underlying cause of the brain injury might have a number of harmful consequences.
Concussions stretch and damage nerves and blood vessels in your brain, causing chemical changes that cause a temporary loss of brain function. A single concussion usually does not result in irreversible brain damage. Multiple concussions over the course of a lifetime can cause anatomical abnormalities in the brain.
In Functional Neurology, a trained Functional Neurologist can diagnose which areas of a person’s nervous system are unstable or malfunctioning, and recommend an appropriate treatment to improve the overall quality of how their nervous system functions.
So how is this beneficial in treating concussions?
Understanding the basic causes and physiological processes involved with a brain injury or concussion is crucial to functional neurology and functional medicine. Functional medicine/neurology can accurately and efficiently diagnose the possibility of post-concussion or post-brain injury by analyzing the underlying processes.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain damage that occurs when the head is struck or the body is suddenly jolted. Concussions can happen in any type of event, but sports-related injuries are the most common. Even a mild TBI or brain injury might result in trauma that needs to be addressed.
A mild to severe brain damage caused by a direct hit to the head or a fast, rapid movement might cause a phenomenon known as sheering stress. Most people are unaware that the brain, despite its appearance in models as a solid round form with a hard structure, is essentially a liquid structure. As a result, it is extremely sensitive to rapid changes in the skull.
3 Ways A Concussion Can Occur:
- When the head collides with a stationary object, a concussion might ensue. A fall where the head meets the ground or an item is a common example, as is banging the head on an object during a vehicle accident.
- A concussion can also be caused by a moving object striking the head, such as a ball or stick during sports, or by a human collision.
- Concussion can also be caused by a rapid acceleration/deceleration of the head with no contact to any surface. This can happen to dancers and gymnasts owing to rapid movement, or it can happen in an auto accident where there is no visible head damage.
All of these actions cause the head to decelerate quickly, causing sensitive brain tissue inside the skull to move. An accident of this kind rarely happens head-on or in a forward/backward movement. When one is struck on the right or left side of the forehead, there is usually a rotating force. If a force happens off center while the body is moving forward or looking forward in a static position, the brain is subjected to an excessive rotational force, causing more harm to brain structures and hence a more severe concussion. Rotational forces are indicated by loss of consciousness and nausea at the time of injury.
According to recent studies on athletes, nerve signals in the brain are altered for 30 days after a single concussion, and persons who engage in sports activities during this time are more likely to sustain another injury. This is due to abnormal reaction times and brain processes. During this susceptible phase, we are less likely to see something approaching the head, such as a ball. If you have more than one concussion, your symptoms will usually get worse and your recovery time will be longer.
If you are suffering from symptoms of concussions, treatment and therapy is highly recommended.
How does Functional Neurology Diagnose and Treat Concussions?
Concussions can be diagnosed and treated with functional neurology by addressing the underlying reasons rather than the symptoms. Neurological and cranial nerve evaluations identify parts of the brain that aren’t functioning properly, and therapies are utilized to assist those areas recover. To reduce brain inflammation, treatment options include transcranial low-level laser therapy, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, and food and nutrition.
Because it stimulates your brain and body, challenges and enhances your sensory-motor systems, and helps you perform at your best, Functional Neurology is on the cutting edge of neuroscience. Every portion of the human nervous system has a distinct purpose or collection of functions.
There is a significant distinction between looking at pathology or irreversible damage versus how it functions. Functioning neurology looks at the neurology of how the brain operates and determines which parts are functional.
A neurological exam, a cranial nerve test, transcranial low-level laser therapy, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, and the use of diet and nutrition to deal with the neural inflammation associated with concussions are all important aspects of functional neurology.
Functional neurologists can identify parts of the brain/body that are not functioning properly as a result of the concussion and stimulate those areas to measure their receptiveness.
Types of Concussions and How to Treat Them
A concussion can produce abnormal vestibular system functioning, and the brain can receive incorrect signals about the location and movement of the head in space as a result of the brain trauma. When vestibular information is faulty, the brain frequently depends on visual input to keep the head in place. As a result, the visual system becomes the most dependable method for swiftly determining one’s position in space and maintaining balance. Using eyesight alone as your primary source of balance might cause weariness and make it difficult to complete daily tasks.
Vestibular rehabilitation is a treatment option that can be tailored to the patient’s work or school responsibilities, as well as the complexity of the situations he or she is likely to encounter.
Ocular or visual system concussions can cause problems with the eyes’ ability to operate together. Patients may also have trouble focusing on and tracking items.
This form of concussion causes patients to have trouble coordinating their eye movements. Headaches, weariness, and difficulties focusing their vision are some of their symptoms. Reading and computer work may aggravate these problems. A neuro-optometrist may recommend vision therapy in addition to vestibular therapy, depending on the degree of symptoms.
Attention and concentration, cognitive processing speed/efficiency, learning and memory, working memory, executive function, and linguistic fluency are the neurocognitive domains most sensitive to the immediate effects of concussion.
Patients with a cognitive concussion may have difficulties concentrating, acquiring new information, remembering things, and multitasking. From the start to the conclusion of the day, some people may feel more tired. Those who are suffering from cognitive fatigue may benefit from academic and workplace adjustments, as well as taking pauses and requesting a workload decrease. Sleep, food, hydration, stress management, and exercise must all be strictly adhered to. Additionally, certain people may require medication.
When concussion symptoms remain longer than the normal healing period following the initial injury, this is known as persistent post-concussive symptoms, or post-concussion syndrome.
Headaches, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light or noise, and concentration and memory issues are all possible symptoms.
The focus of treatment should be on tight behavioral management, with a concentration on regular sleep — sleeping only at night and avoiding naps. Hydration, nutrition, stress management, and some sort of physical activity are all important. Medications to relieve the symptoms may be required. Weeks to months are typical healing times.
During a concussion, forces sent to the skull may also cause injuries to the extracranial region, including the neck and spinal cord. The most commonly described mechanisms of damage to the cervical spine related to various sports such as football, hockey, and wrestling are axial loading, hyperflexion, and hyperextension of the cervical spine.
Headaches and neck pain are the most common complaints. These injuries are treated by using mobilization techniques and posture correction exercises to increase range of motion. Biofeedback, which teaches patients to control their bodies’ functioning with their minds, as well as anti-inflammatory or analgesic drugs, may be used to alleviate pain.
Many people who have had a concussion also experience noticeable mood changes, but this path refers to those who have excessive worry or irritation that is interfering with their life. Exertion Therapy is a viable option. Patients follow a regular exercise routine to assist stabilize their mood, increase their sleep quality, and reduce worried thoughts.