Concussions and Recovery

What is a Concussion?

Despite being incredibly common, affecting more than 600 per 100,000 individuals per year (1), most people don’t actually understand what a concussion is and why it happens.

The CDC reports that about 1.6-3.8 million concussions occur yearly in relation to sports and other recreational activities. Due largely to their commonality in sports injuries, concussion symptoms are fairly easily recognized (2):

  • Appearing dazed or stunned.
  • Memory loss.
  • Clumsy or awkward movements.
  • Headache, nausea, or dizziness.
  • Fogginess, confusion, or concentration problems.
  • Mood, behavior, or personality changes.
  • Loss of consciousness.

However, understanding why they happen is an entirely different story. When the initial trauma strikes, it creates a cascade of neurochemical and neurometabolic events occurring in quick succession one after another. Due to the violence typically associated with head injuries, it may seem natural to think that it’s this initial trauma event to the head that causes all the symptoms. In reality, the subsequent instability and neurologic dysfunction that occur within the first 30 minutes to four hours of injury cause the lion’s share of the problems (3). 

When is it Serious?

90% of concussions occur without any loss of consciousness at all, so that alone can make it difficult to properly recognize when a concussion has occurred. However, when loss of consciousness does occur, that is one of the major signs that it’s time to go to the ER. A majority of concussion symptoms will typically resolve on their own in 7-10 days. However, the biochemical changes after a concussion occurs are at their greatest at three days after the injury and can last more than 15 days post injury. So, even if serious symptoms don’t occur right away, make sure to keep an eye on things as time progresses as they just may not have manifested yet. Symptoms such as: severe or persistent headaches, severe dizziness and/or loss of balance, repeated vomiting, increasing confusion, clear, watery discharge from the nose or ears, bloody discharge from the ears, unusual behavior or confusion, slurred speech, uneven or leather than normal pupil size, or extreme drowsiness, difficulty waking from sleep, or fainting are typically indicative of a more serious injury and may require additional medical attention.

How to Treat Concussions

The most important factor in recovery from concussions is rest. This can mean physical rest, mental rest, or even taking breaks from activities that worsen symptoms. Most non-sports related concussions resolve themselves and the individual recovers completely within 3 months. However, sometimes, the symptoms will stick around, resulting in a condition known as PCS or Post-Concussion Syndrome.

PCS is defined as concussion symptoms lasting for weeks, months, or even sometimes years after the initial injury. In cases such as these, additional medical intervention will likely be needed to resolve the symptoms. Specifically, studies have shown that physical therapy targeting the cervical region is beneficial for individuals experiencing symptoms such as limited range of motion in the neck, neck pain, and headaches. 

Additionally, a study published in 2018 showed that peripheral electrical stimulation on the paraspinal neck muscles could potentially “advance the cognitive function recovery of persons with PCS”. In the field, Chiropractor, Dr. Schmoe has been utilizing electrostimulation in the form of ARPwave Neurotherapy to work on symptoms in individuals with PCS for many years now. 

“Using ARPwave technology in tandem with my practice has made a real difference in the long term recovery of my patients with PCS. I have individuals who come to me exclusively for Post Concussion Syndrome relief and having something that can help them has been a real blessing. I would recommend ARPwave to any providers looking to increase their range of impact.” - Dr. Jeremy Schmoe at The Functional Neurology Center

Since concussions aren’t just “bumps on the head”, using electrostimulation therapy to trigger the correct neurological responses, can help regain the stability that was lost when the original cascade of triggers occurred. 

For additional information on ARPwave and Concussion Protocols, click here.

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