Wednesday, April 27, 2022

How Do Concussions Affect The Brain

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Are My Nerves Injured Too

How do concussions affect the brain?

In rare cases, nerves in your head and neck can be injured during a concussion. ;;There are a dozen sets of nerves ;that come from your brain and brain stem called the cranial nerves. ;These nerves are involved in important things like smell, sight, sensation, taste, hearing, balance, speaking and swallowing.

  • Blurred vision, double vision and dizziness might be caused by cranial nerve injury

  • Sometimes people experience changes in smell and taste as well if these nerves are injured.

  • Facial and scalp pain and numbness might also happen if some of these nerves are injured or irritated. ;

  • Hearing can also be affected

  • If you notice any symptoms like this, its important to see a doctor for assessment to see if cranial nerves are involved. ;Your PT should also screen cranial nerves to make sure theyre working well.

What Does The Human Brain Look Like

There are three main parts of the brain: the cerebrum, the cerebellum and the brain stem. Each part is in charge of different things. Parts of the brain work closely together and send messages to each other and to other parts of the body to control everything we do, feel and think.

The brain has a texture like firm jelly. In most cases, a minor hit to the head does not cause any lasting problems. This is because the brain is well protected by shock-absorbing liquid called cerebro spinal fluid, layers of tissue called meninges and the hard part of the head, called the skull.

The brain is also made up of chemicals and nerve cells that send messages to different parts of the brain and body.;The brain uses these messages to do important things such as:

  • Control the way our body moves
  • How we think, make decisions, learn and remember
  • How we speak
  • Our personality and behaviour
  • Our vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch
  • Things we dont think about, such as breathing, heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure

Concussions: How They Can Affect You Now And Later

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A concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury that affects how your brain functions. These effects can be short-term, lasting only a few hours or a couple of days, or cause long-term problems.

Concussions occur as the result of a traumatic blow to the head that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth in a whiplash-like fashion. The sudden movement causes the brain to bounce and twist around inside the skull, stretching and damaging the delicate cells and structures inside your brain. This damage can cause physical and chemical changes in your brain to affect how it functions.

While medical professionals usually describe concussions as a mild form of TBI, even the mildest concussions can cause serious effects.

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How Can I Help A Student Return To School And Academic Work After A Concussion

Every concussion is different, and therefore, some students may need to miss school to help heal for varying amounts of time, while others will be able to continue their work with some accommodations.

In general, a full return to school may be completed in five phases. Because symptom severity and length of recovery vary from student to student, some students may not need every phase. The purpose of each phase is to identify what the student can do without increasing symptoms and avoiding the triggers that do worsen symptoms. Examples of common school-related symptom triggers are reading, computer use for class work, and prolonged concentration, although triggers are variable and will differ from student to student.

What Does Concussion Do To The Brain

Science Project by Palmer Wilson

The 2015 film;Concussion;examined;the effects of repeated head injury.;In the film, Smith plays the real-life neuropathologist Bennet Omalu, who first discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of professional American football players. CTE results in dementia-like symptoms, and Omalu suggested that long-term concussive hits were the likely cause.

Repeated concussion has long been associated with neurological dysfunction, and was first described in boxers as ‘punch drunk‘;syndrome in 1928. A growing body of evidence now suggests the damage sustained over multiple hits, even when they are ‘sub-concussive’ apparently symptomless may increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons and CTE.

The link between concussion and irreversible brain injury is particularly troubling, especially given the dominance of Australias contact sporting culture.

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Repeated Concussions In Athletes

Athletes especially those who play contact sports like football and hockey are at higher risk for multiple concussions than the general population. If youre an athlete recovering from a concussion, do not return to your sport until you are fully healed. Follow the return to play protocol found on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Whether youre a high school athlete, college athlete, a retired athlete, or still competing later in life, the dangers are the same.

Unfortunately, sustaining one concussion means that you are at risk for more. During recovery, your brain needs time to heal. Head trauma could affect coordination, balance, and other skills needed to keep you safe during practice. Youre more likely to get another concussion when those abilities are compromised.

Its worth noting: if you sustain a second concussion while recovering from the first concussion, you risk longer-lasting symptoms and brain damage. In extremely rare cases, some patients die from second impact syndrome, a condition we dont fully understand, that involves a rapid swelling reaction in their brains. Never return to sports before your concussion has healed.

Above all, dont let anyone be it your coach, your teammates, or yourself push you into doing something youre uncomfortable doing. Its not worth the risk to your safety.

What About Dementia Risk In Athletes

If youre a serious athlete who has sustained multiple concussions, you may have been told youre at a higher risk of developing a neurodegenerative disease later in life. Recent studies have shown a link between multiple sports concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy , a kind of dementia. Some researchers have found that traumatic brain injuries can be a trigger for changes in the brain present in those with Alzheimers disease.

While there may be a link between sustaining head trauma and developing Alzheimers later in life, there is much we still dont know. We also dont know if treating lingering post-concussion symptoms could decrease the risk of developing dementia as a result of previous concussions.

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How Do Concussions Affect The Brain

During the traumatic blow to the head which causes a concussion, the brain rapidly moves back and forth, bouncing and sometimes twisting inside the skull. The brain can become bruised from being pushed against the skull.

Moreover, different parts of the brain move inside the skull at different speeds, creating shearing forces which could stretch and tear brain tissues. This causes physical injury, such as stretching and breaking of the neurons , as well as physical and chemical changes in the brain which could affect its function.

Although a concussion is called a mild traumatic brain injury, even a mild concussion could have serious health consequences.

What Is A Sub

How can hormones and concussions affect your brain?

First, every person is different. Many people can take a blow to the head without feeling or showing signs of sustaining a concussion. This is called a sub-concussive blow. In theory, one would think that taking several blows to the head would potentially add up to the point that the blows would cause concussion or brain injury. However, this has not been shown to be true.

There is no set number of blows and no exact or collected degree of force from blows over time that has been shown to result in a concussive injury. However we do know if you experience a blow and have shown or felt symptoms of concussion or have been diagnosed with a concussion and you continue to participate, you are at increased risk of permanent brain injury if you were to experience another concussion before you have fully healed and are 100% symptom-free.

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What Treatments Are Available

No person should return to sports or vigorous activity while signs or symptoms of a concussion are present. Treatment for a mild brain injury is usually rest and medication. The best treatment is time to allow the brain to heal.

Get plenty of sleep. Avoid physical exertion as well as activities that require mental concentration, such as playing video games, watching TV, texting or using a computer. School workloads should also be temporarily reduced.

For headaches, use acetaminophen . Avoid other pain relievers such as ibuprofen and aspirin, as there is a possibility these medications may increase the risk of bleeding.

Common questions & answers:

Long Term Effects Of A Concussion

Some symptoms of a concussion develop hours or days after the traumatic brain injury occurred. These symptoms include:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability and other personality changes
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Depression and other psychological problems
  • Disorders of smell and taste

Long-term effects of concussion are rare. In fact, the vast majority of people see any symptoms resolve within a few weeks. Only about 20 percent of people might suffer from post-concussion syndrome, where they continue to experience symptoms after six weeks. However, the more concussions you get, the more likely you are to suffer long term consequences, especially if you dont give your brain enough time to heal between injuries.

At some level, concussions result in a brain injury, so were certainly worried about the accumulative affects of concussions, says Gregory Hawryluk, MD, neurosurgeon and concussion specialist at University of Utah Health. Were starting to learn that perhaps these seemingly minor blows to the head, when theyre accumulative, can lead to depression and behavior change. In fact, we think that some suicides may be linked to the brain damage that results from multiple concussions.

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Number Of Total Concussions

The number of concussions that you endure is often an important factor of influence in predicting long-term outcomes. Even if you endure just one minor Grade 1 concussion, any subsequent concussion can do serious damage. If you end up with several Grade 1 concussions, the cumulative effect and toll on the brain is very significant. The more concussions you have, the more likely you will be to endure unwanted, and potentially irreversible long-term effects. This is why it is important to make a conscious effort to minimize concussion risk in all circumstances.

How To Treat Post

What You Need To Know About Concussion

Even if youve sustained multiple concussions over time, the kind of treatment you need is the same as for someone who has only sustained one concussion. However, that doesnt mean your treatment regimen will look the same as another persons. The specific therapies you need depend on where the damage in your brain is along with what kind of suboptimal signaling youre experiencing.

Lets back up for a moment. In the section above, we explained that your brain might create suboptimal pathways in order to avoid injured sections of your brain. Those areas could be hypoactive or hyperactive . From a symptoms perspective, the two often look the same. But from a treatment perspective, theyre completely different.

We use that information to create a custom treatment plan to target the areas of your brain that need help. Patients spend the next week doing physical and cognitive therapy designed to repair the damaged pathways in your brain. Currently, there is no other method that successfully repairs brain damage from post-concussion syndrome. Whether youve had a history of concussions or just one, this treatment repairs lingering damage from the concussion.

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So What Happens On The Field Now When A Player Is Hit

All codes have different protocols but they all use the diagnostic SCAT-5 . First, a club doctor approaches the player and asks questions such as Who are you playing on?, Whats the score? and What day is it? These are known as the Maddocks questions because they were devised by David Maddocks of the University of Melbourne in 1995 after his seminal paper,;Neuropsychological recovery after concussion in Australian rules footballers.

A cognitive screening then tests memory and recall. The doctor might read aloud a series of words ;finger, penny, blanket, lemon, insect; and ask the player to repeat the string of words, in any order. The doctor does the same with digits, the list of numbers growing progressively harder to remember. They also perform a balance examination . All of this contributes to a subjective read on their state of mind. If they are deemed to have been concussed, they are removed from play.

Brain Injuries And Movement

A common effect of a traumatic brain injury is damage or loss of balance and feeling dizzy. Some individuals lose visual depth perception. Depending on the severity of the traumatic brain injury, the problems may last seconds, minutes, or lifelong. Rehabilitation techniques, similar to those used for stroke patients, can help individuals improve balance and regain many aspects of normal life.

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Activity And Thinking Changes

The amount of physical and cognitive activity we do, and the thoughts we have all affect our brains on the chemical and connection level. ;This is true for a uninjured brain and one after concussion. ;The actions we take after injury can influence the biochemistry of the brain including how energy is used, how connections are made and the balance of neurotransmitters.

Looking To The Future

What Happens To The Brain During A Concussion?

A mild concussion can be treated with rest or exercise. All concussions should be followed up with chiropractic care and lifestyle changes.

If you or a loved one are experiencing these post-concussion symptoms, seek medical attention right away. The sooner your concussion is treated, the more likely you will avoid the long term effects of concussions.

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What If The Student Is Still Struggling Even With These Management Techniques

Students with ongoing problems may need special assistance to continue their schoolwork. A supervising person, such as a guidance counselor or school psychologist, can be used to track the students progress and initiate the following accommodations, if necessary:

  • One-on-one tutoring sessions
  • Use of a note-taker or scribe for lectures and/or tests
  • Use of a reader to read aloud assignments or examinations
  • An individualized education plan or 504 plan necessary for those with severe or prolonged symptoms

Concussion Treatment And Home Remedies

If you donât need hospitalization, the doctor will give you instructions to follow. Experts recommend follow-up medical attention within 24 to 72 hours if symptoms worsen. To recover at home, you should:

  • Take a break. If your concussion was sustained during athletic activity, stop play and sit it out. Your brain needs time to properly heal, so rest is key. Definitely do not resume play the same day. Athletes and children should be closely monitored by coaches upon resuming play. If you resume play too soon, you risk a greater chance of having a second concussion, which can compound the damage. The American Academy of Neurology has issued guidelines about resuming activities after a concussion.
  • Guard against repeat concussions. Repeat concussions cause cumulative effects on the brain. Successive concussions can have devastating consequences, including brain swelling, permanent brain damage, long-term disabilities, or even death. Don’t return to normal activities if you still have symptoms. Get a doctor’s clearance so you can return to work or play with confidence.
  • Treat pain with aspirin-free medications. Your doctor will prescribe a medication to relieve pain or recommend an over-the-counter option.

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Does A Concussion Occur Exactly Where The Blow To The Head Occurs Are There Worse Areas Of The Brain To Have A Concussion

The force of a hit can cause a concussion on the part of the brain that was directly hit or on the opposite side of the brain .

Different areas of the brain control different functions, so blows to your head can predict your symptoms. A concussion to the back of the brain causes balance issues, fogginess, neck pain and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms usually predict a longer recovery from a concussion.

When Can A Student Athlete Return To Play After A Concussion

Kids are more susceptible to head injury than previously ...

Student athletes are ready to return to play when they are:

  • 100% symptom free at rest.
  • 100% symptom free with normal mental activity.
  • 100% symptom free with exercise.
  • No longer taking any medications for concussion symptoms.
  • Fully back to school and able to tolerate school work.
  • Have a post-concussion neurocognitive test score that is at least as good as the pre-concussion score or pass certain criteria set by the school or athletic board.
  • Have a physical exam and balance test that are within normal limits.
  • Have been cleared for play by a healthcare provider trained in evaluating and managing concussions.

The thinking used to be that the student athlete needed to be symptom free for 24 hours before starting the multiphase process of physical activity toward the goal of returning to play. However, research has now shown that if the patients concussion symptoms are improving each day and they are able to attend a full school day with a few breaks for symptoms, they can begin to add very low level cardiovascular activities. These activities should consist of walking or biking on a stationary bike at an intensity that doesnt make symptoms worse.

Following this approach, most student athletes are able to return to play within about three weeks after their symptoms began.

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