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Understanding Concussions Symptoms, Causes, and Non-Drug Treatments

Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury that occurs when a person has an abrupt, violent head impact or sudden acceleration and deceleration forces — such as rapid whiplash — act on their head. The resulting brain motion results in the stretching and damage of neural axons (the fiber pathways that transmit signals through the brain), as well as increased levels of biochemical event mediators released within the brain. This often leads to an array of symptoms, some seen immediately after the injury and others that develop over time.


At Venice Acupuncture and Functional Neurology, we understand how serious concussions can be, and this is why we strive to be your go-to source for comprehensive knowledge surrounding concussions, their causes, and symptoms. In this blog post, our acupuncture specialists work to outline common concussion symptoms by severity level; explain how concussions typically occur; provide examples of non-drug treatments for concussion recovery; and highlight open studies for people living with post-concussion syndrome. Venice Acupuncture promises you the best personal care available in Venice Florida.


What is a Concussion?


A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that occurs when a blow to the head or body causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. While a concussion can range from mild to severe, the majority are considered mild, and many people affected often do not lose consciousness.


It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion so that if one occurs, it can be treated properly. Let's take a look at the basics of concussions and explore some of the non-drug treatments available.


A concussion is a type of brain injury caused by a blow to the head or body, or by a sudden stop. It occurs when the brain is moved rapidly inside the skull and can cause changes in behavior, thinking, and physical functioning. Concussions are usually mild and at times, self-resolving, but can lead to more serious medical complications if left untreated.


Though it is possible for a person to experience a concussion without experiencing any symptoms at all, common signs of concussion include headache; confusion; dizziness; balance problems; blurriness of vision; ringing in ears; nausea or vomiting; fatigue and feeling dazed or “foggy”. If you believe that you have suffered a concussion, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible in order to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.


There is no single way to diagnose a concussion since the symptoms will vary depending on individual factors like age and overall health history. For this reason, diagnosis often involves performing both physical examinations (e.g., balance testing) as well as cognitive tests (e.g., memory/attention) in order to gain an accurate understanding of the injury. In addition to these tests, imaging scans such as CT (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may also be used when needed for further assessment.


Non-drug treatments such as acupuncture treatments can help with managing symptoms from concussions when an individual has experienced either resolution or persistent symptomatology that cannot improve with rest alone. Non-drug treatments provide an additional option for recovery when an individual's symptoms may not have resolved with rest alone at six weeks post-injury point.


Symptoms


Concussions are head injuries resulting from a direct or indirect blow to the head. They can occur in any sport or activity, at any age and level of play. Generally, the symptoms of a concussion will appear shortly after the traumatic event. However, in some cases, symptom onset may be delayed for several minutes to hours after the injury.


The most common visible signs of a concussion include dizziness, confusion and difficulty concentrating. Other symptoms include headache, fatigue (mental and physical), nausea or vomiting, neurological deficits related to vision or balance, neck pain or stiffness. If a person has amnesia (inability to remember events that happened shortly before or after the blow) then they may have suffered more severe brain trauma and should seek medical attention immediately.


If there is suspicion of a concussion then it is best to rest and be monitored closely by an appropriate healthcare provider familiar with concussions such as an athletic trainer or physician. It is important to take action right away if any of these signs or symptoms are present as it could indicate a very serious brain injury with irreversible effects if left untreated.


Causes of Concussions


Concussions can be caused by a variety of factors, including physical trauma, falls, car accidents, and sports-related injuries. This type of head injury can result in a variety of symptoms, such as headaches, blurred vision, nausea, confusion, difficulty concentrating, changes in behavior, and memory loss.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the causes of concussions and non-drug treatments you can try in order to deal with the aftermath of a concussion.


Sports-related injuries


Sports-related injuries are the leading cause of concussions in people under the age of 18. Football is the leading cause, with a rate of approximately 10 concussions per 10,000 players, followed by ice hockey and soccer. While padded protective gear, helmets and other protective measures have resulted in a decrease in concussion prevalence and severity across sports, it’s important to keep in mind that a helmet alone cannot always prevent a concussion.


Young athletes are particularly susceptible to concussion due to their still developing brains and neck muscles. When they receive a traumatic blow to the head or body that causes the head to jerk quickly back and forth, the brain may be injured from either direct impact or from movement within the skull caused by rotational forces. The exact cause of concussion is not understood but research suggests that symptoms may be caused by biochemical changes in neurons, including impaired functioning within pathways involving glutamate transmission. Women tend to report higher numbers of concussion symptoms than men despite receiving similar blows; one hypothesis for this gender discrepancy is differing levels of hormones and neurotransmitters associated with estrogen found within female brains.

Non-sport related causes of concussions can include motor vehicle accidents, recreational activities such as skateboarding or cycling injuries, slips and falls as well as physical violence or abuse between individuals. Many people can also experience mild impairments after experiencing less than blunt trauma from exposure to loud noise (for example briefly flashing bright lights).


Car accidents


Car accidents are one of the most common causes of concussions. Even minor collisions can cause the occupant’s head to jolt, resulting in a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). In severe cases, a car accident can even cause skull fractures and severe brain trauma leading to permanent disability or death. It’s important to understand that anyone involved in a car accident may be at risk of incurring a concussion, whether they were driving or riding as a passenger.


In situations involving motor vehicle accidents, cyclists and pedestrians are also at serious risk of sustaining mTBI. Collisions between vehicles and cyclists or pedestrians often result in great force being absorbed by the body, including the head and shoulders, which can lead to concussions or other forms of traumatic brain injuries.


According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly two-thirds of all deaths from non-fatal TBIs associated with physical recreation activities involve motor vehicle incidents such as bike accidents. The same holds true for unintentional falls – more than half involve motor vehicle related incidents like falling from an ATV or running into an object while walking near moving vehicles on roadways. It’s therefore very important for everyone using roads and highways to pay attention when walking, biking, skating, scootering or even driving near vehicles on the roadway in order not to become another OTSC – one too soon counted in those mTBI statistics.


Falls


Falls can be a major cause of concussion, particularly in young children and older adults. Even falls from smaller heights can have an impact, as the sudden change in acceleration/deceleration combined with the head’s contact with a hard surface puts large amounts of pressure on the brain.


Parents may need to be extra cautious when their small kids are climbing on furniture or ascending and descending stairs. Also, those with physical impairments or mobility problems should always take precautions to avoid slipping and falling, as these falls can often lead to injury.


Taking safety measures, such as positioned handrails or utilizing a wheelchair or walker for older individuals is essential to avoiding potential head trauma from falls.


Traditional Treatments


When it comes to treating concussions, traditional treatments offer a range of options. These treatments may include chiropractic care, physical therapy, massage therapy, nutritional counseling, and acupuncture.

In this blog, we will explore the pros and cons of traditional treatments for concussions, as well as how they can be used to help relieve symptoms and facilitate healing.


Over-the-counter medications


For mild concussion symptoms, such as headache, confusion, and light sensitivity, you can often help relieve the symptoms with some over-the-counter medications. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) is great for easing headaches and other pain that can accompany a concussion. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is also frequently used as an analgesic (painkiller). Many physicians also recommend Tylenol to help reduce post concussion fever. If vomiting is an issue, talk to your physician about antiemetics such as promethazine or ondansetron.


In general, people with a diagnosed concussion should not take aspirin due to risk of bleeding in the brain and potential for further complications. Large doses of vitamin C are generally not recommended for concussions either due to potential toxicity and side effects when combined with other prescription medications related to a concussion.


Finally, although many patients recovering from a mild concussion have found some relief from using over-the-counter medications in the days following their head injury — it’s always important to check with your physician before taking any medication or supplement during the recovery period.


Prescription medications


Prescription medications are another tool used to manage concussion symptoms. Medications that have been recommended may include anti-seizure and/or anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, sleep aids, or pain relievers. It is important to follow the dosing instructions carefully and side effects should be monitored closely by a physician. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help with headaches and other aches and pains associated with concussions, but consistently taking them may lead to organ damage in some cases so they should only be taken as directed by a physician.


Commonly prescribed medications for concussions also include progesterone and amantadine, which are hormones that may help treat problems with memory, attention span, problem solving, fatigue and even depression. Amitriptyline is an antidepressant often used for treating excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) caused by multiple traumatic brain injuries; this medication carries warnings about usage during pregnancy. Modafinil is used mainly for treating EDS without interfering with nighttime sleep; however it has an amphetamine-like effect and can cause serious cardiovascular side effects so its use must be closely monitored.


Finally, certain drugs such as memantine are being studied for possible use in managing post traumatic cognitive symptoms; the drug works by regulating levels of the chemical glutamate so it must be used with caution since changes in glutamate levels have been linked to psychiatric problems such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.


Non-Drug Treatments

Non-drug approaches to treating a concussion can be just as effective as traditional medicines, but with fewer potential side-effects. Acupuncture in particular has been studied and found to be an effective treatment for managing concussion symptoms.


In this blog, we’ll discuss some non-drug treatments for concussions, why they work well, and how you can get started.


Acupuncture


Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice involving placement of needles at specific points on the body in order to stimulate the flow of energy. This can help restore balance and alleviate pain. Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat physical and mental conditions, and many physicians are now including it as part of their concussion treatment plans.


Evidence has suggested that acupuncture may be effective in reducing some of the symptoms associated with concussions, such as dizziness, headaches, light sensitivity, disrupted sleep patterns and cognitive impairment. A 2017 study concluded that combined with conventional treatment approaches (e.g., rest, neck exercises), acupuncture is able to reduce pain intensity after mild head trauma more effectively than conventional approaches alone.


The way acupuncture works to improve symptoms varies depending on the individual needs of each case; which points are used depend totally on your particular situation. An experienced acupuncturist will assess your condition carefully before deciding which needles go where and how often they should be stimulated. While most patients experience a positive response long-term after a few treatment sessions, it is important to continue treatments at regular intervals. This will help you manage symptoms more effectively and prevent them from returning or worsening in the future.


Conclusion


When it comes to treating a concussion, understanding the signs and symptoms is key. The longer the injury is left unaddressed, the more long-term effects can be seen. If you’ve experienced a head injury, it’s important to get medical attention as soon as possible.


In these cases, looking to non-drug treatments like acupuncture and craniosacral therapy are a great option for healing. These methods provide natural assistance with pain and side effects while allowing your body time to properly heal itself without interruption.


At Venice Acupuncture & Functional Neurology in Venice, Florida, we specialize in treating all kinds of head injuries with our comprehensive care plans that are tailored specifically to your individual needs. No matter what level of your recovery you’re at, we here at Venice Acupuncture & Functional Neurology are here to do everything we can to make sure that you have a safe and speedy return back to health following this often-serious injury. Give us a call at (941) 218-4664 to schedule your appointment today!


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