Chiropractic Meridian ID Why Is a Concussion So Hard To

What started as days and weeks has now turned into months and years.
Your provider told you that you should have recovered by a month and yet
you’re not getting better. Is something else wrong with you or is there a
misunderstanding about concussions in healthcare and society as a whole?

In this blog, we will cover what you need to understand about concussions
and how to get better even if it has been months or years from the injury.


DOES EVERYONE RECOVER

For most of the past 50 years the thought was that nearly everyone that suffers concussion will be better in a couple of weeks and maybe 10% would have prolonged symptoms. Is this really true or an old thought that isn’t valid anymore?

When we look at the research that has come out over the past 5 years, it is clear that you aren’t an anomaly who just isn’t recovering. Nearly 50% of those who are diagnosed with a concussion in the emergency department still are not recovered by a year (2, 3, 4).

These individuals continue to experience many of the same symptoms that you do (1):

  • Brain Fog
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Poor Concentration
  • Problems with Finding Words or Memory
  • Depression or Anxiety
  • Anger or Irritability
  • Chronic Neck Pain
  • Problems with Falling or Staying Asleep
  • Dizziness
  • Light and Noise Sensitivity

Yes, these are all symptoms that individuals can experience for years following the injury. We will next explore what happens in the brain and why individuals don’t recover.


WHAT HAPPENS IN THE BRAIN AFTER A CONCUSSION

Immediately following the injury neuronal connections are impacted, inflammation begins, energy demands increase, and blood flow reduces. Inflammation early on is actually a really good thing as it is a signal to respond to the damage. Unfortunately, this inflammatory response is often prolonged and can last longer than symptoms or objective findings which is worrisome.

There is a need for energy to deal with what happens, but the energy producing components of the cells known as mitochondria aren’t able to do their job efficiently which creates more inflammation.

Lastly, blood flow reduces which prevents as much glucose from getting to the appropriate cells to be used for energy. This further impacts inflammation, energy, and connectivity which creates a vicious cycle.


NO TWO CONCUSSIONS ARE ALIKE

Even though the four things above happen following a concussion, theynhappen to different levels to different people. Some individuals are dealing with more inflammation, while others are dealing with more issues with connectivity.

It goes beyond the injury itself, but where your health was heading into thenconcussion matters.

There are many things that can set someone up for poor recovery whichinclude pre-existing:

  • Insomnia
  • PTSD (4)
  • Depression/Anxiety (4)
  • Diabetes
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Psychiatric Medications (4)
  • Chronic Stress and more

This is why concussion research is struggling. In medicine the goal is to try to find something that works for a significant portion of the population. This works great when there is one driving factor of a disease or illness, but for injuries like a concussion this isn’t possible.

We are learning more and more about concussions in humans, but most of the research was based on animals initially and we are still in the process of figuring out how it applies to humans.

We do have enough to start acting for individuals to improve, but we can’t walk into the injury with a predetermined treatment plan like medicine does with strep throat, flu, ear infections, diabetes, and other things.


RECOVERING FROM A CONCUSSION

First off, I want you to know that you can recover. Until 5 years ago the standard was to do nothing and hope people magically recovered. I was privileged to have learned from individuals who have been rehabilitating concussions for nearly 30 years and were told they were crazy as they were taking the research and applying it. As a result I was seeing results that I didn’t think were possible as those individuals were told they couldn’t get better, until they did.

At the time of this piece I’ve been involved in concussion rehabilitation for nearly a decade. You want to make sure you find someone that is able to take the research, apply it clinically, and has seen great results. They should have a passion for the brain, respect it, but also understand the nuances of the injury.

When recovering from a concussion it is important to have a comprehensive evaluation that identifies how the brain is currently functioning as well as factors that would impact it from doing so. Once again, evaluation is key as that determines what is the most appropriate
treatment for you.

Lastly, there is no magic bullet. Therapies such as hyperbaric, neurofeedback, supplements, and others may be part of a treatment plan but don’t mistake one of them as a cure all as there will be more failures than successes with that approach.

If you believe that you can recover, but are needing someone who takes the latest research and applies it, then reach out today to get started.


References:

1. Hiploylee, C., Dufort, P. A., Davis, H. S., Wennberg, R. A., Tartaglia, M. C.,
Mikulis, D., Hazrati, L. N., … Tator, C. H. (2017). Longitudinal Study of
Postconcussion Syndrome: Not Everyone Recovers. Journal of neurotrauma,
34(8), 1511-1523.
2. Machamer, J., Temkin, N., Dikmen, S., Nelson, L. D., Barber, J., Hwang, P.,
Boase, K., Stein, M. B., Sun, X., Giacino, J., McCrea, M. A., Taylor, S. R., Jain,
S., Manley, G., & TRACK-TBI Investigators (2022). Symptom Frequency and
Persistence in the First Year after Traumatic Brain Injury: A TRACK-TBI Study.
Journal of neurotrauma, 39(5-6), 358–370.
https://doi.org/10.1089/neu.2021.0348
3. McInnes K, Friesen CL, MacKenzie DE, Westwood DA, Boe SG (2017) Mild
Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) and chronic cognitive impairment: A scoping
review. PLoS ONE 12(4): e0174847.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0174847
4. Theadom, A., Parag, V., Dowell, T., McPherson, K., Starkey, N., Barker-Collo, S.,
… BIONIC Research Group (2016). Persistent problems 1 year after mild
traumatic brain injury: a longitudinal population study in New Zealand. The British
journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General
Practitioners, 66(642), e16–e23. doi:10.3399/bjgp16X683161