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How to Treat a Concussion

by | Jun 29, 2020 | Conditions, Health & Wellness

What are Concussions

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth in the skull. This sudden movement of the brain in the skull creates chemical changes and alters brain cell function.

Often, this may mean that a concussion is an “invisible” injury. In other words, you may feel different, but on the outside you look the same. A concussion can affect you in several different ways.

  1. Physical: headaches, fuzzy or blurry vision, nausea/vomiting, dizziness, sensitivity to light/noise, balance issues, fatigue.
  2. Emotional/Mood: irritable, sad, nervous/anxious, more emotional overall.
  3. Sleep: sleeping more or less than usual, difficulty falling asleep.
  4. Thinking/Memory: feeling of being “in a fog,” difficulty concentrating, difficulty remember new information, difficulty thinking clearly, forgetting what you are doing.

In most cases, you may be symptom free in about 3 days, however on imaging studies, there are still changes in nerve signal transmission and risk of injury for up to 30 days. If you have experienced a concussion and notice an increase in symptoms, you should stop the aggravating activity and seek medical attention.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics

Returning to Normal After a Concussion

If you have experienced a concussion, know that it takes time to return to your normal activities. Some people may feel symptom free in about 3 days, but the brain continues to show nerve signal changes for up to 30 days.

Think of your brain as a train or bus station with a lot of incoming and outgoing traffic. Without an injury, your brain can handle rush hour traffic conditions – lots of noise, moving parts, a flurry of activity. With an injury, your brain can only handle off-peak conditions –overall quieter and fewer things happening at once. Simply put, your brain needs time to heal and build up the ability to handle the traffic that comes in and out.

The key to returning to normal is graded exposure.  Here are some ways you can ease your way back in to your normal activities

At Home

  • Limit visual activities such as TV or computer time to 30-45 min and take frequent breaks if you start to feel a headache or other symptoms come on. If you can’t handle 30 minutes at a time, start with shorter intervals and build up your endurance.
  • Listen to audio-books instead of reading a book to reduce eye strain/fatigue.
  • Space out your errands throughout your week so your brain is not overwhelmed with all the input.
  • Enlist the help of a loved one if the daily activities are overwhelming.

At Work

  • Work in a quiet space without fluorescent lighting.
  • Avoid busy visual backgrounds including vertical/horizontal blinds or bookshelves.
  • Use your lunch to decompress and give your eyes and brain a break.

In Your Social Life

  • Keep in contact with friends who are supportive of what you are experiencing.
  • Limit social activities to small groups or 1 to 1, and limit the time to one to two hours. Eventually you can increase this time as you feel better.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics

If you are experiencing any issues with a concussion injury or would like to learn more please contact us.

Aiko Araki, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist at Vida Ravenna

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