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Concussions

Concussions

  • Dr. Jake
  • Jan 16 2018

Concussions

By Dr. Jake Filkins

 

Concussions can be a scary word because, in a world where there seems to be a solution for everything, not much is known about this brain injury. In fact, that is exactly what the medical term is; a mild traumatic brain injury. Even the NINE diagnosed concussions I have had in my life give me little insight in trying to describe them. The most complex issue in the discussion of diagnosis and treatment is that in of itself; they’re complex.

The most difficult issue with brain injuries is the inability to see them. Unlike a bruise to the arm or the leg, a bruise to the cerebrum has the same ailments without the visual cues. When we have an external injury we can see swelling, or we can see redness, or we can touch the area and have a pain feedback loop. When nervous tissue is injured we cannot see a color change, nor swelling, nor can we push or poke at it to see if it hurts. The gets compounded with the physiological facts that nervous tissue is one of the quickest to die if deprived of nutrients and the slowest healing tissue in the body. When we bruise our brain, we create micro areas of swelling that cause ischemia, or lack of oxygen, death to the tissue. This manifests itself as a delayed reaction, difficulty thinking, trouble focusing. The increased pressure in our cranial vault manifests as headaches, pressure behind the eyes, or fatigue.

There is no book that is written saying a loss of consciousness equates to a particular type of concussion, or that an impact to a specific area of the head will equate to a different type of concussion. Many factors contribute the severity of the trauma: the force of impact, the area of impact, was the body prepared for impact, how fast did the moving body stop, is there a history of brain trauma, etc.  The best way to treat the symptoms of concussions is by listening to them. Research is conflicting; some says stimulation is good for recovery others say it's not, some say sleep and darkness is good while other studies say returning to normal activity is the best way to regain brain connections. It is my opinion, both empirically and narratively, that the best thing to do is to listen to your body and do what it is telling you.

For those athletes, or other populations, who are more at risk to experience concussion science and technology are constantly increasing to make the diagnosis and prevention of further injury a readily accessible thing. Most schools and athletic programs have access to computer tests that test the subject based on of brain function opposed to subjective feedback. Some, including our office, have the latest apps and computer programs that are based on human body sway to completely objectify the findings.

The most important thing I would ask you take home from this months blog is that concussions are a serious injury that needs to be addressed. The first step would be to get a baseline test to compare to if head trauma were to occur. The other and more simplistic solution would be to know what the symptoms are: headache, drowsiness, lack of focus, sensitivity to noise or light, mood swings, irritability, a sudden change in sleep patterns, and fatigue are a few of the common symptoms. Every concussion is different in both of onset and symptomatology. However, every concussion needs to be addressed.