Concussion injuries

There are some myths

Our understanding of concussion injuries has grown a lot over the last 15 years. Research is being conducted and published at such a rate that it’s almost hard to keep up, which is a good thing because those with a concussion injury  are getting much better evidence-based care. For the average person not looking at the research, you might still believe in some of the old myths about concussion that have since been disproven.

These myths are things like:

• You have to lose consciousness in order to sustain a concussion.

• You have to sit in a dark room for 3 days and avoid sleeping for longer than 20 minutes after sustaining a concussion.

• You have to take a direct hit to the head in order to sustain a concussion.

• A concussion in a child is not as severe as a concussion in an adult, etc.

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What happens in a concussion injury?

Most people don’t know how to clearly define what a concussion injury is, let alone wrap their heads around the consequences of improperly managing one. A concussion is classified as a “minor traumatic brain injury” (mTBI). It is most common for people to sustain a concussion through an impact (ex: slip and fall, contact sport, motor vehicle accident) in which their brain hits one side of their skull and then the other; this is known as the “coup/contre-coup effect”. On a microscopic level, the brain’s tissue (which has a gelatinous consistency and is sensitive to external force) is “stretched”; this in turn causes what researchers call the “neuro-metabolic cascade”. Essentially, the brain experiences a chemical imbalance/misfiring that results in impaired function.
Impaired function can look different from person to person, but often concussion symptoms include:
• Nausea
• Dizziness
• Fogginess
• Sleep disturbance
• Light/sound sensitivity
• Decreased cognitive function
• Visual disturbance
• Mood disturbance, etc.

Any one of these symptoms on their own would seem manageable to the non-concussed person- the problem is that these symptoms are often overlapping and vary in intensity. It is also important to know that sometimes symptoms will show up a few weeks after sustaining the initial injury, which can be very alarming to a person if they weren’t told that this could happen. With proper intervention, most patients recover fully in about a month’s time after sustaining a concussion. Children and adolescents with concussion need special consideration in their rehabilitation due to their developing brains. The consequences for not understanding and knowing how to navigate your (or your loved one’s) concussion can range from inconvenient (ex: experiencing symptoms after being in a stimulating environment for too long) to dangerous (ex: the controversial “second-impact syndrome” in children and young adults).

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What should you do if you think you have a concussion injury?

If you suspect that you have sustained a concussion, it is important to be properly assessed, treated, and rehabilitated by someone who has had formal concussion training. These can be healthcare practitioners like chiropractors, physiotherapists, and massage therapists (to name a few). While some of these practitioners cannot formally diagnose (you should always consult your primary care physician first) most often they will be overseeing your treatment and rehabilitation. Anyone who has suffered a concussion can tell you how debilitating some of the symptoms can be – there is no point in “letting it fix itself” when you can have a trained professional help you manage those symptoms.
At Rehab1, we offer concussion management and we have a number of practitioners on our Team that are willing and happy  to help you.
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The above blog was written by:
Ashley Brzezicki, Registered Massage Therapist

Ashley prides herself on providing every one of her patients with the best client-centered care possible. Her evidence-based approach to massage therapy comes from a love for continuous education and research. She likes to incorporate a lot of movement-based techniques in her practice in order to offer her patients the most efficient and effective care.

Ashley graduated with Honours from the Atlantic College of Therapeutic Massage in Fredericton. She has experience working with a varied patient base, including: elite athletes, post-operative patients, individuals with degenerative and neurological conditions, and peri-natal patients.

When Ashley isn’t in her clinical practice, she is teaching continuous education courses to other licensed practitioners with Ontario-based clinician Conor Collins. Investing her time in continuous education means that she stays informed on new developments and patient management strategies in the field of massage therapy.

In her spare time Ashley enjoys reading, hiking, travelling, dogs, nature, and exploring good wine/food/coffee and culture

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