Navigating the World of Post-Concussion Treatment Options
They’re a lot more common than you might think.
Having treated concussions for over a decade, I’ve come across a lot of misinformation when discussing the brain.
So, what does a concussed person do? Where do they go for help? Here are a few of my personal recommendations:
1. More Tools in the Toolbox
If you’ve ever tried to fix or build something, you know it can take a lot of different tools. That’s why we have a toolbox filled with them.
Why would something as complex as our brain be any different?
Anyone working in the world of concussion needs multiple tools at their disposal:
- a researcher will think in terms of data and statistics
- a chiropractor will think in terms of mechanics
- a psychologist will think in terms of incentives.
Pulled together, each of these professionals offers a component that can be successful as part of a comprehensive approach.
You wouldn’t try and fix your car with just a hammer, right?
2. Search for Board Members
Before visiting a concussion clinic, check out its website and look up its scientific advisory board. In fact, you might want to check out several of them.
Are any individuals on multiple boards? Recently published? Keynote speakers?
Seek out those clinicians. They are truly on the leading edge of concussion care.
3. Bridge the Gap
Reach out to experts bridging the gap between research and practice. You want individuals with one foot in each world.
Start by Googling concussion research in your city or town. As this involves sitting at your computer, staring at a screen, and sifting through the results — something a concussed patient is ill equipped to do — ask a parent, partner, or friend for help.
4. Research Government Programs
There are often state or provincial programs designed to help you navigate the rapidly changing world of concussion.
Once again, an online search is a good place to start. Search for “region/city/town concussion treatment” — or words to that effect — and see what comes up.
Much of the information on these websites can be useful regardless of where you live.
5. The Miraculous Brain
Above all else, remember that the brain is extraordinarily complex and miraculous.
No one doctor, researcher, or institution will ever have a complete understanding of the brain.
On countless occasions, I’ve seen remarkable progress when none was expected, demonstrating the brain’s amazing resiliency, which far surpasses its complexity.
So give yourself the space, time, and resources to heal.
How To Heal From a Concussion
Be sure to take action immediately once any kind of mild traumatic brain injury has occurred, even if you’re not 100% sure that a concussion has taken place. It can sometimes take a few hours or days for concussion symptoms to show up after the initial injury — there are even some cases where months will pass before symptoms present.
Be present with your body and look out for symptoms such as:
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurry vision
- Loss of consciousness
- Poor coordination and reflexes
- Dilated pupils
Take the time to sit out of physical activities while you are still being evaluated for potential damage. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your doctor if you notice changes in your symptoms — they are there to guide you and advise you.
Other indicators to look for are sluggishness, clumsiness and fatigue. Also keep an eye on mood and behavior changes, like nervousness, anxiety, or depression, as these can oftentimes be more subtle indicators of brain injuries.
What Can Recovery Look Like?
There is a new mantra: rest is not always best. Need to also introduce movement instead of only recommending rest.
Take a mental break from your normal everyday routines and chores, and limit screen time. It’s crucial to also limit strenuous physical activities and anything that makes you exert a lot of effort in any way.
Naps are helpful to give the body extra processing time to heal when the body can be fully at rest. Sensitivity to light is one of the most common concussion symptoms, especially in the beginning, so naps can help to get the eyes extra rest and relief that they need.
Even though this may seem obvious, take a pause from any activities that could result in another head injury.
To manage headaches or other pain and discomfort, speak with a health care provider about whether or not it’s safe for you to take pain reliever medications like ibuprofen (Advil), aspirin, motrin, or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Managing concussions long-term is a different story. Concussions create inflammation in the body, which can affect multiple systems from your immune system to your cognition.
The good news is that we know this up front and can work to be proactive in nurturing the body.
What some people may not be aware of is the gut-brain response that happens after a brain injury. One of the long-term problems that arise is that the gut becomes more permeable, and where bad bacteria normally remains contained in the gut, it may now be more able to move towards other organs in the body. This is known as leaky gut.
Unfortunately, this response can end up triggering even more inflammation, which sometimes results in gastric issues and other GI symptoms like bloating, discomfort, and irregularity.
Be smart with the foods that you eat after a concussion. Although it should be obvious, avoid alcohol, and if able, limit gut-harming options like fried and highly processed foods.
Nuro Is Here to Help
The Nuro app can be a powerful resource in your cognitive rehabilitation. We have four pillars in the app: Brain, Recovery, Movement, and Nutrition. If you need help keeping yourself accountable, we can help.
Once any headaches, dizziness, and the like go away, our eye exercises are a powerful tool to help strengthen and even retrain your neural pathways.
In the Recovery section, the breath work can help you work to get more oxygen to the brain, which can support the healing process.
Whether it’s for accountability, to have a one-stop-shop to document your self-care routine or to connect with new healing techniques such as eye movement exercises, we’ve designed the Nuro app to support you and your cognitive health.