Vital Things About Concussion: Signs, Treatments and Recovery Solutions
Concussions happen all the time. Any blow to the head or violently shaking the head and upper body can lead to a concussion, which usually causes mild and temporary effects.
Depending on the injury, a person may lose consciousness, but it rarely happens. In most cases, people even don’t realize that they had had a concussion.
Concussions are quite common among individuals who play contact sports, such as football, and it’s possible for them to recover fully. Despite its general harmlessness, a it can lead to severe complications sometimes. Namely, people may feel post-traumatic headaches, vertigo, or even hematomas, which affect overall health.
Such conditions are successfully treated with acupuncture, which provides relief in both acute and chronic pain that arises from headaches. Additionally, acupuncture helps people overcome emotional stress due to concussion and prepares them to come back to the joy of everyday life.
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What is a Concussion?
A concussion falls under the category of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) that affect brain function. It mostly occurs after a blow to the head or injury that makes your brain shake quickly back and forth.
A concussion can make you lose your consciousness, but other consequences aren’t usually life-threatening. Still, if you notice that some of your symptoms last longer than they should, you’re advised to consult your doctor about adequate medical treatments.
All traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, can cause bruising, damage to blood vessels and injury to the nerves.
What are the Most Common Signs of Concussion?
Symptoms of a concussion may not show immediately or may not show at all. They are usually subtle and almost unnoticeable, which is why people often ask, How to tell if you have a concussion?
The most common concussion symptoms include headache, loss of memory and confusion. People who had concussions usually can’t remember the event that caused it.
Other symptoms of concussion you shouldn’t ignore are:
- Dizziness or “stars” in front of the eyes
- Ringing in the ears
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Delayed response to questions
- Appearing dazed
The mentioned symptoms usually appear immediately, while some other may occur a couple of hours or days later. Such signs of a concussion are:
- Problems with concentration and memory
- Personality changes, such as irritability
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Sleep issues
- Depression and anxiety
- Disorders of smell and taste
If you notice that someone near you has some of the following symptoms, that person may have had a concussion:
- Balance issues
- Loss of coordination
- Problems while walking
- Unequal pupil size
- Slurred speech
- Repeated vomiting
- Loss of consciousness after the injury
- An inability to wake up (coma)
How to Recognize Concussion in Children?
Concussions are quite common in young children, who are unable to describe how they feel. That makes it more difficult for parents to notice any signs of head trauma, which is why they should pay attention to the following indications:
- Irritability and crankiness
- Unsteady walking and loss of balance
- Crying excessively
- Change in eating and sleeping habits
- Showing no interest in favorite toys
It’s vital to visit a doctor right after the injury, even if your child seems fine. If he or she feels sleepy and wants to take a nap, let them do it; still, if your child starts to feel unwell later, make sure you take him or her to the emergency.
If you or your child got injured while playing some sports, make sure you don’t return to them if symptoms of concussion are still present. It’s necessary to visit a concussion expert who’ll determine whether you’re ready to go back to your sports activities and when you can do it.
How Does a Concussion Test Looks Like?
A healthcare practitioner will probably perform a concussion test, also known as the baseline test, which is primarily created for determining whether athletes who play contact sports have had a concussion.
The test is mostly done before the start of a sports season, intending to measure normal brain function. That way, doctors can determine whether a concussion has left any consequences to the brain function of the injured players.
Typical testing involves questions about concussion symptoms and a physical exam. You or your child may be tested for any significant changes in:
A concussion test for athletes usually comes in the form of an online questionnaire that measures memory, speed of answers, and other vital abilities. Sometimes, testing may include:
- Computerized Tomography Scan (CT): This is a type of x-ray scan that involves taking a series of pictures as it rotates around you.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): MRI uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create a full image of your brain.
What Causes Concussion?
When you receive a violent blow to your head, neck, or upper body, you are at risk of causing your brain to slide back and forth. Such movements can affect the brain function, usually for a brief period, but they can sometimes lead to more severe complications that include bleeding in or around your brain. Such bleeding can be fatal, which is why you should go to emergency care immediately – doctors will monitor the injury, making sure your symptoms don’t worsen.
The following activities and factors are those that increase the risk of concussion:
- Falling, which mostly happens to young children and older people
- Playing a high-risk contact sport, including football, hockey, boxing, soccer, and rugby
- Motor vehicle collision
- Bike or pedestrian accident
- Physical abuse
- Having had a concussion before
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What are the Most Common Complications That Arise Due to Concussion?
A mild concussion usually causes no further complications, but sometimes it can lead to more severe conditions, such as:
- Post-traumatic headaches: It’s not rare that people experience headaches within a week to even a few months after a head concussion.
- Post-traumatic vertigo: A sense of dizziness and spinning may last for days, weeks, or months after the injury.
- Post-concussion syndrome: Post-concussion syndrome includes the symptoms of headaches, dizziness and thinking difficulties that usually last from a few days to a couple of months.
- Cumulative effects: If a person has already had more than one TBI, they’re at risk of developing long-lasting and progressive conditions that may limit the brain function permanently.
- Second impact syndrome: This is something that rarely happens, but it may bring severe consequences. If someone’s experiencing the second concussion before the signs of the first one haven’t resolved, they’re at risk of severe brain swelling that’s mostly fatal.
How to Prevent Concussion?
Make sure you’re following the next tips to minimize the risk of head injuries and concussion:
- Wear a helmet and other protective gear: When playing a sport, especially the one that includes contact, wear protective gear that will protect you from head injuries.
- Buckle your seatbelt: Don’t forget to wear the belt while driving a vehicle. Not only it will protect you from severe injuries caused by collisions but also from a head concussion.
- Protect your home: Make sure your home is entirely safe and free of anything that could cause you or your children to slip and fall.
- Exercise regularly: It’s vital to be active and exercise regularly in order to strengthen your legs and improve balance – that way, you minimize the risk of falling.
- Spread awareness of concussion: All parents and coaches are advised to educate their children about the risk and prevention of shock.
How to Treat a Concussion?
After you’ve been taken to the hospital after the injury, a doctor will perform an examination that will determine whether you have a concussion or not.
Doctors will perform some of the neurological, cognitive, imaging, and observation tests that will provide them with a broader picture of your condition. After the comprehensive diagnosis, you’ll be advised about the concussion treatment that would suit you the most.
A concussion specialist may recommend some of the following approaches:
Acupuncture for Concussion
Acupuncture, one of the most efficient methods for treating a variety of conditions, originates from China and falls under the category of Eastern medicine.
It has proven its efficiency in treating a plethora of degenerative eye diseases and neurological conditions. Besides, it plays a significant role in stroke recovery and TBI rehabilitation.
Acupuncture is considered the best treatment for a concussion because it significantly reduces the symptoms of headaches, neck pain, anxiety, depression, and other consequences that come as a result of head injury.
A typical acupuncture protocol for a concussion includes the insertion of fine and sterile needles into specific acupoints in order to address the symptoms of a mild TBI. The needles will be placed in the ankles, tops of the feet and hands since it’s believed that such acupuncture points for concussion have a positive influence on that injury.
Another way of addressing the injury is scalp acupuncture, which is aimed at stimulating the specific points found on the scalp or the neck near the base of the skull. Such an approach is vital because it increases blood flow and oxygenation, resulting in brain tissue improvements.
Here are some crucial benefits of acupuncture for concussion:
1. Increase of Blood Flow to the Brain
The primary benefit of acupuncture is the fact that it increases blood flow, which is essential for brain function improvement. Some recent researches have proven that acupuncture increases blood flow through the main arteries that supply the brain – the middle cerebral artery and basilar artery. It also enhances cerebral glucose metabolism, which is mostly affected by concussion.
2. Improvement of Sympathetic Nervous System Functions
A concussion is responsible for the changes in sympathetic nervous system activity, which causes irritability, insomnia, anxiety, pain, headaches, sweating, and excessive light sensitivity. Acupuncture is quite an efficient therapy that can help rebalance the autonomic nervous system, helping patients feel better.
3. Pain Relief
Concussions, regardless of their severity, often cause headaches, neck pain and muscle tension. Such conditions may last longer, which is why patients often decide to include acupuncture treatments to their medication therapies prescribed by healthcare practitioners. Acupuncture is then performed in a dark and quiet space, which significantly helps to reduce the pain that arises due to both acute and chronic stages of recovery.
4. Alleviation of Nausea Symptoms
Nausea and dizziness are a part of post-concussion syndrome, and they’re often triggered by increased motion sensitivity, eye movement disorders and disbalance of the autonomic nervous system. Accordingly, acupuncture for post-concussion syndrome will help to reduce the severity and frequency of nausea and dizziness.
5. Improvement of Sensory Mapping
A concussion usually causes a lot of sensory problems, including chronic neck and upper back pain, neck stiffness, as well as concentration and coordination issues. Treatments of acupuncture can help to activate the parietal cortex and increase the amount of information that travels up to the spinal cord to the brain. That way, the blood flow to the injured brain areas will be increased, which leads to significant improvements. Our long-standing acupuncture practice has shown that even 85% of patients have responded positively to the therapy, which is quite satisfactory information that contributes to the development of this treatment. However, it’s vital to know that every patient may respond differently to the therapy. Treatments may last shorter or longer, depending on the patient’s condition and overall health – still, your patience and persistence are the most critical factor that will influence the final results.
Your acupuncturist and your doctor will probably recommend you rest since that’s the most appropriate way to allow your brain to recover from a concussion. That means that you should avoid high-impact activities and sports and vigorous movements as long as the symptoms are present. Also, it’s not recommended to watch TV, play video games, use a computer or do any work for a school that includes reading or focusing.
Such activities may only worsen your symptoms and prolong the concussion recovery time. As you’re getting better, you may start adding more activities that involve thinking, reading, or completing school or work assignments.
Even if you’re feeling better, don’t go back to sports before you’ve talked to your doctor or acupuncturist about whether those activities are safe for you. Sometimes, playing sports can increase the risk of a second concussion and severe brain injuries.