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Concussion Care

brain-neurons

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that occurs as a result of a blow to the head or body. It is a serious form of trauma that affects your brain function, and requires proper attention to prevent long-term residual impairment. It is possible to have a concussion and not realize it. When properly managed, most people recover fully after a concussion.

How do I recognize a suspected concussion?

The general public typically doesn’t have any official training in how to recognise a concussion. As such, we rely on our gut feelings a lot of the time. So how can we, as parents, teachers and volunteer coaches, increase our knowledge base so we don’t miss something serious? Picture this: in the heat of a game, when the stakes are high, the pressure is on… one of your players goes down with a big hit. How do you confidently know when to sit a player out or put him back into the game? What do you look for? What if others are questioning your judgment? Do you have the conviction to stand by your decision? The reality is that not all hits, wipeouts and blows in sports result in a serious injury, or a concussion, but when they do… returning to play can be extremely dangerous. Here are a few tips to remember that can put your mind at ease.


Watch Dr. Todd in a brief video explaining “Concussions: How to recognise them and what you should do”.

Click Here to see more of our videos on Concussion care with information on
how to recognize concussions, what testing we do, and more.

Concussion Signs and Symptoms:

There are many signs and symptoms that can be present with a concussion. The symptoms can be subtle, and may not show up immediately. Symptoms can last for days to weeks, or longer. Some are definitely more serious than others. Here is a list of some things to look for:

Headache
Dizziness
Nausea
Poor concentration
Difficulty with memory
Attention deficits
Light sensitivity
Noise sensitivity
Ringing in ears
Irritability
Anxiety
Depression
Irritability
Impulsivity
Confusion
Disorientation
Poor balance /coordination
Decreased playing ability
Feeling dazed
Seeing stars
Vacant stare
Slow/slurred speech
Feeling tired
Delayed response to questions
Unusual emotions
Fatigue
Sleep disturbance

The resounding rule of thumb is “When in doubt, sit them out.”
An athlete with a suspected concussion should not return to play until they have been evaluated by a medical professional who is specifically trained in assessment and management of concussion.
When a concussion is diagnosed, an athlete should never return to play on the same day as the injury.

Red Flags

If any of these signs appear, the player must be taken to the emergency room for immediate assessment:

  • Neck pain
  • Weakness or tingling in arms or legs
  • Severe or increasing headache
  • Seizure or convulsion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Deteriorating conscious state
  • Vomiting repeatedly
  • Double vision
  • Increasingly restless, agitated or combative
football-team

Brain imaging may be recommended for severe symptoms that are becoming worse, to rule out whether the injury has caused bleeding or swelling within the skull.

Overview: The key points if signs/symptoms are present

• Remove the player from the game: “When in doubt, sit them out.”
• Give the player a moment to “collect themselves.” Do not leave the player alone: monitor signs and symptoms.
• DO NOT administer medication
• Inform the coach, parent or guardian about the injury
• Have the player evaluated by a medical professional qualified in concussion assessment as soon as possible
• Have the player follow the Return to Play Guidelines set out by your sport association

Treatment Options


So, you’ve been assessed and diagnosed with a concussion. What can you do to get back to work/school, sport and living your life as safely and efficiently as possible?

Rest. You will require a significant amount of rest in the early stages of recovery. This includes physical and cognitive rest, especially in the first 24 to 48 hours. So, if you’re tired, have a nap. If you feel the need to go to bed earlier than usual, do it. A very gradual reintroduction of physical activity is recommended, provided it DOES NOT further aggravate symptoms, Speak to your West Valley Chiropractic doc or a health care provider who is trained in concussion management before returning to any activity that may pose a risk of physical contact.

Remove Electronics/visual stimuli. Tasks requiring attention, concentration and visual focus take a considerable amount of cognitive “brain energy” to accomplish. Engaging in these tasks can prolong recovery, as your brain attempts to recharge while in use. Modifications to your work or school routines may be required to facilitate this. The more energy a concussed person uses on school, work, television or video games, the less energy remains for the brain to repair itself. Think of it like recharging the battery on your phone… it will charge more efficiently if you’re not using it while it charges.
So, just to recap: no television, video games, texting, reading or computer work for the first 48 – 72 hours (minimum).

Vestibular/Ocular Motor Screening (VOMS). Try saying that 5 times fast! Basically, VOMS a series of tests that checks the connection between vision, balance and movement. This gives us an objective way to measure how your brain is coordinating these functions, and document your progression throughout recovery. Out team at West Valley Chiropractic is specifically trained in VOMS testing and can make recommendations to guide you through your recovery with the help of this useful tool.

Sleep Schedule. Sleep is one of the best ways to recharge your brain. It is not necessary to have someone wake you up throughout the night after experiencing a concussion. Maintaining a proper and consistent sleep schedule is vital to recovery.

Chiropractic Treatment. If you think of the impact that your body takes when you’ve sustained a concussion, you wouldn’t be surprised if you experience head and neck pain associated with this type of injury. Having your spine and nerve system checked and adjusted by a Chiropractor who is trained in concussion management is an important part of the recovery process. Our precise instrument adjusting technique allows for accuracy and comfort in the treatments.

Psychological Support. It is normal to feel sad, angry or frustrated when recovering from a concussion. Becoming easily drained and unable to function as you used to can seem exhausting. It can also be challenging to be removed from work, sport and other social settings for any length of time. Referral for psychological support may be in order if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, or if you’re having problems with memory or problem solving.

West Valley Chiropractic is well connected to a network of other health care professionals in the concussion world. If we don’t have the resources or the connections to help you… we’ll find them!

When Should You Seek Treatment?

Concussions, like any other physical injury, should be properly managed and rehabilitated, especially when symptoms persist beyond the first few days. Imagine if you injured your knee. You rested it for a bit, and after a while it felt better. The body will work to heal the tissues, but there could still be weaknesses or deficiencies present. Going through an assessment to reveal those weaknesses and following up with rehabilitation when necessary will create a better foundation that can then be worked harder and become stronger.

Consider seeking help from a health professional trained in Concussion Management under the following circumstances:
• Symptoms persist, despite early rest
• Presence of ongoing neck pain or stiffness
• Ongoing headaches, dizziness or visual complaints
• Further guidance needed with return to sport, school or work modifications

What is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

Most often, the symptoms of a concussion develop in the first ten days and typically resolve within a few months. Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS) is defined by a persistence of symptoms – such as headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, fatigue, depression – which continue for months to years after the injury that initially caused the concussion.

The risk of developing PCS appears to have no direct correlation with the severity of the original injury.

More research is required to determine why some injuries result in PCS and others do not.

Proper management of Post Concussion Syndrome can result in tremendous improvements in symptoms and overall daily function. Each individual is different. Our team of healthcare professionals can help you come back from Post-Concussion Syndrome through any combination of therapies including: Chiropractic Care, Psychiatry, Oculomotor Rehabilitation, Sleep hygiene training, Dietary recommendations, Work/School modifications, Exercise re-introduction.

Second Impact Syndrome

Second Impact Syndrome is rare, but when it happens, the outcome is devastating. Experiencing a second concussion before signs and symptoms of the first concussion have resolved can result in rapid swelling of the brain. The outcome of Second Impact Syndrome is usually fatal.

*** It is important for athletes to be aware of this very dangerous scenario. Never return to sports while still experiencing signs and symptoms of a concussion.***


For additional information or to schedule an appointment, please contact our office today.