Why do we get concussion(s)?
As we have discussed so far a concussion is a direct blow to the head or a direct force that causes the head to be jarred back and forth. Remember, that a concussion doesn’t have to be directed to the head, it can be a fall or a force that travels up the spine and causes a whiplash to occur (you get in an accident that causes your back to hit the seat really hard but your head doesn’t touch anything).
You may be wondering exactly why do we get a concussion in the first place? One of the obvious reasons is what we just mentioned with the direct blow to cause the head to have problems. However, what you may not be aware of are the reasons that can lead to that direct or indirect blow. What exactly do I mean by this? This is the perfect time to go back to our talk about brain-based chiropractic (the first blog we ever did) if you haven’t read that I highly recommend you read that before continuing. We talked about the 3 systems of the body and how they help us perceive the world and allow us to go about our everyday activities. When they are working it can be a pretty good day but when they aren’t this leads to many different issues from dizziness, pain, migraines, headaches, anxiety, etc. Let us go over a couple of scenarios that can help drive this idea home:
If our brain cannot perceive the world correctly, as in we aren’t aware of our surrounds or we get dizzy every time we move/turn head, this can lead to instability of not only different areas of the brain but also our muscles too. If every time we turn our heads we get dizzy the brain will make sure to fire our neck muscles more to allow for greater tone on the neck muscles which means we will turn the whole neck instead of a normal neck movement (think of Val Kilmer as Batman and how he would turn his head, also if you haven’t seen it you need to see that tonight!). This is good in the sense that it decreases our dizziness or instability but leads to a greater chance of decreasing our reaction time and processing speed. In sports, this can be a wide receiver not being able to use head movements properly or when we are driving we cant see cars around us as well.
In this scenario, if our proprioception, when we move our muscles and joints fire to the brain to let the brain know we just moved, is off it can lead to a concussion. Again, in sports, if we don’t have a good sense of where our bodies are in space (knowing where we are in relation to others basically) this can lead to not only a decrease in reaction time but also vulnerable to outside forces. If we cant move appropriately in sports this can lead to a concussion
- In soccer trying to head a ball and we end up crashing into another
player doing the same thing. In hockey/football if we think we are in one place but we are really in another we may think we aren’t going to get hit but in reality, you might.
- In everyday life, we may chalk it up to being clumsy or ditzy but this can also lead to being more vulnerable too. This can be seen going for a morning run or hike. If we are running and we don’t have a
good sense of where our body is this can lead to rolling an ankle or
tripping over different objects in our path. Most of the time we may
just roll our ankle or trip but if it is bad enough we may fall and cant
catch ourselves and end up falling on our head.
- This can be the same thing for hiking as well. Most of the time when hiking we are walking on different terrain. This is really testing our proprioception and if it is off we can really trip and fall and this can be really bad if we are hiking a mountain or big hill!
These 2 scenarios can show a little more how doing simple everyday tasks or playing a sport can lead to a concussion pretty quickly.
Signs and Symptoms of a concussion (S&S):
Some of the main S&S of a concussion can be: Just to name a few
- Light/Sound sensitivities – neck/back pain – concentration issues – Irritability
- Mood changes – Poor balance – headaches
What to do after?
Once a concussion, especially a direct trauma, has occurred we need to make sure that we get proper imaging. This makes sure that there aren’t any major issues in the brain, such as a brain bleed or some form of a brain contusion. Once this has been fully looked at and all imaging is clear this is when we can go and start the rehabbing of the brain. Rehabbing can be in the form of chiropractic adjustments, vision training, balance and eye exercises, breathing exercises, and so much more.
The biggest take away from this is that whatever the therapy we want to make sure that we don’t reach what we call the metabolic threshold. This is basically when there is so much (to much) input into the brain that the brain can’t make sense, this can cause an increase in neck pain, headaches, decreases in balance, etc.
What is amazing about the brain is that if we give it the right stimulus
(remember it needs O2, glucose, and stimuli) we can use neuroplasticity.
Again, this basically means that the brain can learn from what we are giving it and it can make the pain were having, the balance issues, headaches, etc better. We cant always say that the brain will go back to 100% because it may have not been 100%, to begin with, but also depends on how the brain is going to respond to the therapies we are giving it. However, as long as the brain has even 1% viability in the nervous system
we can use it. This is why if therapies are done correctly and the brain gets better at healing itself some amazing results are possible!