A Discussion About Concussions

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There has been a great deal of discussion about concussion over the last few years, as a spotlight on retired professional football players has shown the repercussions of repeated head trauma.

More than 3 million cases of concussion are reported each year in the United States, with victims ranging in age from the very young to the very old. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury resulting from a serious blow to the head where the brain and head are remarkably jarred.

What is a concussion?

Concussions are a functional injury with common symptoms being headaches, confusion, loss of coordination, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, ringing in the ears, sleepiness and excessive fatigue.

Symptoms of a concussion

Symptoms of a concussion in children

Children are at higher risk for concussion because they play hard and participate in sports, where the chances of head/body contact with another person or object are probable, increasing the likelihood they will suffer a concussive event. This is especially troubling when you consider a child’s age and stage of brain development when a  concussion occurs.

Very young children fall and bump and bang their heads when learning to walk and in any number of ways when they’re babies. They may not be able to communicate about concussive symptoms, but telltale signs of concussion in children include confusion; irritability; loss of balance or unsteady walking; excessive crying; changes in eating or sleeping patterns; or a lack of interest in their favorite games or toys.

If a child bumps his/her head, it may only cause a lump to appear, which is generally no big deal as long as there are no outward signs like those described above, medical attention is usually not required.

However, if symptoms present, persist, and progress after a head injury, the injured patient should be examined by a physician immediately.

When to seek medical care for a concussion

According to information provided by the Mayo Clinic, emergency care for an adult or child who has suffered a head trauma is required when the following symptoms appear:

  • Repeated vomiting
  • A loss of consciousness lasting longer than 30 seconds
  • A headache that gets worse over time
  • Changes in behavior, irritability
  • Changes in physical coordination, stumbling or clumsiness
  • Confusion or disorientation, such as difficulty recognizing people or places
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures
  • Vision or eye disturbances, dilated pupils, or pupils of unequal sizes
  • Lasting or recurrent dizziness
  • Obvious difficulty with mental function or physical coordination
  • Symptoms that worsen over time
  • Large head bumps or bruises on areas other than the forehead in children, especially in infants under 12 months of age

Doctors perform various tests to diagnose concussion including neurological exams, cognitive tests, imaging, and general observation.

 

Common exams for concussions include:

Neurological exams determine if there are functional changes in vision, hearing, strength, sensation, balance, coordination, and reflexes.

Cognitive tests are typically performed simultaneously during neurological exams to check a concussion victim’s thinking. These tests are intended to measure concentration, memory, and the ability to recall basic information.

Diagnostic imaging may be ordered to visibly see injuries to the brain and skull and potential progression of damage. Cranial Computerized Tomography [CT];  and Magnetic Resonance Imaging [MRI]; are standard radiological studies for concussion patients presenting with progressively worse symptoms; severe headaches, seizures, and vomiting.

CT scans are a series of X-Rays that give physicians cross-sectional views of the brain & skull. MRI’s use magnets and radio waves to capture precise images of the brain and any changes therein.

Observation overnight in a hospital may be recommended to examine how a patient responds following a concussion. A patient may be allowed to stay home  under the watchful eye of a caregiver to make sure symptoms do not worsen and the patient awakens from sleep without issue.

Common causes of a concussion

A concussion typically occurs when someone plays sports; falls; or is involved in some other type of accident or trauma that involves a hard knock to the head or body; that renders them dazed, confused, or worse, unconscious.

Short Term and Long Term Effects of a Concussion

Short-term effects of a concussion are the standard symptoms:

  • loss of consciousness
  • confusion
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • blurred vision
  • lapses in short-term memory.

Long-term effects of a concussion mimic the short-term list in that headaches, blurred vision, confusion and difficulty concentrating can linger indefinitely following even a mild brain trauma.

Although, there is no specific cure for concussion, rest and restricted activities is recommended to allow time for the brain to recover.

A Functional Neurologist can also help with concussions.

Treatment Stages for Concussions in Boulder, CO

Dr. Paul Austin, a functional neurologist at Austin Functional Wellness in Louisville, CO, uses advanced technology and years of experience to help concussive patients.


 

Interactive Metronome for treating brain timing issues caused by concussions

One of only a few providers in the area, Dr Austin utilizes the evidence-based Interactive Metronome [IM], for assessing and improving a patient’s cognitive and motor skills. IM has been proven highly effective with traumatic brain injuries.

Like a musical metronome  that helps musicians keep precise time, the IM uses auditory and visual feedback to gauge a patient’s kinesthetic performance. Rhythm and repetition improves timing in the brain.

CAPS Unit for risks of falling after a concussion

Moreover, when it comes to falling, Dr Austin is the sole provider of the Comprehensive Assessment of Postural Systems unit (CAPS), which tests postural stability and a patient’s risk of falling.

By standing on a computerized force plate with eyes open and closed, and repeat testing with a foam pad on the plate, Dr Austin is able to discern more about core muscle stability, inner ear function, as well as cortical and brain stem function, so he can develop the appropriate treatment plan from a brain-based perspective versus a spine-based plan.

Dr. Paul Austin a Functional Neurologist in Louisville CO for relief

If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion and dealt with lingering symptoms with little to no relief, contact Dr Austin today for a full neurological and cognitive assessment, including diagnostic imaging, if deemed necessary.

Dr. Austin’s expertise treating patients with traumatic brain injuries, coupled with the latest technological, therapeutic advancements, may be the only prescription you need for true health and healing. Please call 303.665.5405 or email Dr Austin: info@austinfunctionalwellness.com.

Source:  Mayo Clinic

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