With the increasing intensity of our sporting events and activities, as both adults and youth, we are seeing much greater frequency of head injuries. These injuries have a typical anticipated sequela of symptoms that will follow and can be painfully life altering if left untreated.
Here is a short list of things to look for with a head injury:
PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS: headache, fatigue, nausea, light or noise sensitivity, balance problems, numbness/tingling, dizziness, changes in vision, ringing in ears, sleep issues.
EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS: irritability, sadness, enhanced emotions, nervousness, anxiety, personality changes.
LONG TERM SYMPTOMS: difficulty concentrating or remembering, mental fog, slow mental and physical responses, confused or forgotten recent information, vision issues.
It is imperative to seek help as soon as you experience a head injury. DO NOT WAIT. The inflammatory process that begins after a head injury will last for roughly 6 weeks after the first event. Sadly many folks fail to care for themselves during this period of time and may continue the offending activity. If you experience a second blow to the brain within the healing period (roughly 6 weeks) after the first incident then you may prolong the inflammatory process by up to 6 months. If you experience a 3rd blow to the head within this period of time it is now understood that in some cases the inflammatory process known as Glial Cell activation my remain perpetually.
This is what has become known as CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. This has been made well known by movies like “Concussion” as well as the vast amount of information and stories that have come out of the NFL and the horrible latent effects of CTE that many of the retired players are now experiencing.
In our office we address Concussion, TBI, and CTE from a Functional Medicine / Functional Neurology model.
The first step is to provide the tools necessary to arrest the inflammatory process affecting the brain. This may include labs to determine metabolic and genetic factors that may predispose a patient to inflammation and require support to mitigate the process.
Next we assess the brain and its function with a detailed neurological exam combined with QEEG (Quantitative Electro Encephalography) and LORETA (Low Resolution Electroencephalographic Tomography).
Finally we implement the plan. This will always be unique to the patient and their specific situation and needs but it will include continued neuro-metabolic support to get inflammation as low as possible while supporting neural repair pathways. Then neurologically to retrain the brain and facilitate new neural pathways to replace those that have been damaged and stimulate those that may be dormant to a greater state of function.
The potential for the human brain to repair is amazing and in my opinion only limited by our willingness to create the environment where repair can occur and then doing the work!
This I must say, after over 20 years in practice, is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work. I love seeing brain injured patients regain parts of their lives that they and their loved ones thought were gone forever.