Treatment for Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injury
Many in this country have awakened to the sometimes irreversible damage of concussions (or Mild Traumatic Brain Injury), especially in high-impact sports. With much of the attention focused on the National Football and National Hockey leagues, Village Voice Media conducted a nationwide investigation into the consequences of concussion on youth athletes. They found the following on Traumatic Brain Injury.
- The effect of a concussion on kids can be much more devastating than on adults. Doctors say that until a person reaches his early to mid 20s, his brain is not fully developed and can’t take the same level of trauma as an adult brain can.
- An athlete who doesn’t exhibit headaches, dizziness, vomiting, temporary amnesia or other outward signs of concussions still can experience changes in brain activity similar to those in a player who has been clinically diagnosed with a concussion.
- Thus far in 2011, 20 state governments and the District of Columbia have signed concussion legislation that prohibits an athlete from returning to play until cleared by a licensed physician. To date, 28 states have concussion laws in place, including Arizona.
- As attorneys debate how the new concussion laws will play out, parents are struggling with a growing awareness that if they push their children to be standouts in athletics — sometimes the key to a better future — the cost might be irreversible damage.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 1.7 million people are seen in emergency rooms for concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the United States every year. Of those 1.7 million approximately 50,000 adults and 2,685 children die; 235,000 adults and 37,000 children are hospitalized; and 1.1 million adults and 435,000 children are treated and released from an emergency department. (Center for Disease Control, 2010; Finkelstein et al, 2006)) Many times, however, those who sustain a head injury are never diagnosed. Some don’t report the injury and never go the emergency room. The symptoms of brain injury can be subtle and therefore ignored. Sometimes the symptoms of a TBI may not appear until days or weeks later. (Langlois, 2004) TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes that can affect thinking, sensation, language, and/or emotions. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age. (Robinson et al, 2004)
Here is the list of symptoms to look for according to the CDC:
- Headaches or neck pains that do not go away;
- Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions;
- Slower thinking, speaking, acting, or reading;
- Getting lost or easily confused;
- Feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation;
- Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason);
- Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping);
- Light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance;
- Urge to vomit (nausea);
- Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions;
- Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily;
- Loss of sense of smell or taste;
- Ringing in the ears.
Often children are a little harder to diagnose with TBI as it is harder for them to let adults know how they feel. Here is a list of symptoms to look for in children following a blow to the head:
- Tiredness or listlessness;
- Irritability or crankiness (will not stop crying or cannot be consoled);
- Changes in eating (will not eat or nurse);
- Changes in sleep patterns;
- Changes in the way the child plays;
- Changes in performance at school;
- Lack of interest in favorite toys or activities;
- Loss of new skills, such as toilet training;
- Loss of balance or unsteady walking; or
We know that healing or compensating for the damage to the brain is just part of the recovery for TBI patients.
Many of our TBI patients report that they feel as if they were “reborn” after their accident. The old personality is gone. A new person now sits at the helm. They may look the same, but they are not the same person and that is part of the difficulty.
Once the physical side heals, others think that the injured person is back to normal. Much of the time, however, the cognitive and emotional difficulties can be even more devastating and take much longer to heal. Often the system has been sufficiently disrupted for long enough that the symptoms are not yet completely relieved. Disorganization of thoughts, problems with planning and short-term memory disturbances can continue to be an issue.
Anxious to heal, TBI patients often push themselves to try and take on those things they were doing before the accident. This can cause more problems because they have not let the brain heal. Some say they feel fatigued, as if they have been without sleep for days. They sometimes liken it to a constant meditative state. During these times there is no inner chatter, just quiet darkness. During these times the brain is trying to heal itself and therefore goes “offline.” When this happens they can be physically unable to stay connected mentally.
Counseling becomes more difficult because patients can’t track everything that’s being said. They don’t remember conversations and often require others to re-explain things they’ve already been told. This is devastating to many who were used to having a smart, sharp mind and being in control.
The brain fatigue that occurs with these injuries is devastating. Patients are no longer able to do all the things they did before. To make matters worse, often people in their lives don’t understand the full implications of the injuries, especially those used to being cared for by the brain-injured individual. The inability of the patient to think clearly and act quickly can seem to be a personal affront to them. Perhaps this person is withholding from them purposely or faking their injuries to gain sympathy.
These reactions can be devastating to the injured patient. Not only is the patient struggling with physical problems, he or she is now stressed and frustrated, trying to explain the realities to those who are closest to them. The real absurdity is thinking that a brain-injured person will have the wherewithal to put into words the physical symptoms, anxiety, depression and frustration he or she feels.
Although neurotherapy can shorten the recovery by years, it is still takes time and work to recover completely
So What Can Be Done?
Neurotherapy makes TBI recovery much faster and easier. (Duff, 2004; Thornton, 2000).
Many times MRIs and CT Scans do not pick up traumatic brain injuries. They only show anatomy, not function. SPECT scans, fMRI and Pet scans can show function, but they require either a radioactive isotope or dye to be injected in order to see brain tissue. In our experience, these isotopes and dyes can also disturb brain function. We recommend a brain function test known as QEEG (Quantitative Electroencephalogram). It is a non-invasive way to clearly see brain function all over the brain and in each frequency.
BrainAdvantage has BCIA-certified clinicians that we refer our clients to if this test is necessary. Our BrainAdvantage integrated system of neurotherapies has been clinically proven to be highly effective in helping the brain to rewire and heal itself, eliminating long-term issues. Call us today to have a comprehensive evaluation completed to see if there is an injury, and if so, what can be done to repair it.