Post-concussion syndrome occurs when concussion symptoms persist for weeks, months, or years after sustaining a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Typically when someone hears post-concussion syndrome they think, “Can this condition be treated?”If you or a loved one received a post-concussion syndrome (PCS) diagnosis, you're probably wondering if it's treatable.Read More
The fight with cancer is difficult enough, so it’s understandable if you’re frustrated and confused by the cognitive symptoms that can crop up after chemotherapy. Memory problems? Clouded thinking? Fatigue? No thanks!
If someone you love breaks their wrist, it’s easy to know what’s next. A doctor will tell you how long the injury needs to heal, what to do, and what not to do. Helping out could mean braiding hair or carrying books. While it’s not a fun experience for anyone involved (and you might tire of being on dish duty every night), there’s always an end in sight. No one struggles to understand why they’re in pain from a broken wrist.
Dizziness. Nausea. Balance problems. Car-sickness. These are a few of the unpleasant symptoms of vestibular dysfunction after a head injury. Fortunately, they don’t have to be permanent; most patients make rapid improvement with a good therapist.
Recovering from a head injury is an emotional, difficult journey whether you’re male or female. On that journey, women face a few hurdles that men do not. Today, we’d like to talk about those hurdles and a few ways you can handle them as they come.
Here’s something you probably won’t hear in the emergency room: A transient ischemic attack (TIA, or mini-stroke) can have symptoms that last for months or years afterward. Many healthcare providers think these symptoms are rare or at least short term, but a 2013 survey from the UK Stroke Association showed otherwise. Seventy percent of respondents reported long-term after effects such as cognitive difficulties or poor mobility. And sixty percent had emotional changes after the incident.
Neurofeedback is a confusing topic for patients to decipher on their own. Many clinics use big words and brief explanations, and they claim that neurofeedback can cure any number of conditions, from ADHD to post-concussion syndrome.
What you eat affects your health, whether you’ve sustained a traumatic brain injury or are in perfect health. But nutrition is especially important after a brain injury. Diet can be the difference between your brain getting “just enough to squeak by” vs. being powered up for healing.
Dry needling and acupuncture can help relieve certain post-concussion symptoms. They are not a cure-all, either for acute concussion or post-concussion syndrome, but if you suffer from headaches, neck and back pain, or nausea, keep reading.
At our post-concussion treatment clinic, patients sometimes present with short- or long-term hormone dysfunction after brain injury. While we don’t treat hormonal imbalance at our clinic, we often make referrals for it and communicate with our patients’ physicians about their condition.
Oxygen is good for the brain. A lack of oxygen is bad for the brain. So is getting more than normal levels of oxygen better for the brain?
Low energy, difficulty concentrating, brain fog, anxiety, depression, memory problems...
Some doctors say it’s absolutely unsafe to drink liquor when you’re recovering from a concussion. Others say it’s safe, but it might set back your recovery. Still others say, “Why not substitute a fancy coffee for your favorite cocktail on your next night out?” (Please don’t do this. We’ll explain why later in this post.)
Persistent symptoms after a head injury (post-concussion syndrome) can be confusing. They don’t always seem like problems an injured brain should cause. Symptoms like memory problems, trouble reading, or light sensitivity make sense; your brain is closely involved in those processes.
“It’s like there’s molasses in my brain.”
What should you do when your concussion symptoms don’t go away?
The Hariri lab at Duke University recently published a review that questions the reliability of task-based fMRI as used to examine individual patients.
Between 80,000-90,000 of people who suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) each year develop long-term disabilities related to their TBI. Many others suffer from a variety of long-term, problematic symptoms that continue to interfere with their lives. When they try to get help for these issues, they are often told there’s nothing more that can be done — or worse, that there’s nothing wrong with them at all. Here’s the good news: Recovery can and does continue for patients who find the right help.
Anxiety. Depression. Irritability. Dramatic mood swings. Difficulty sleeping and concentrating.
There is a whole world of hurt and pain for patients who experience mental health symptoms after a concussion. Not all of them realize that concussions can cause anxiety, and those who do know it don’t know why it’s happening or how to fix it. Many visit psychiatrists who prescribe medication that may just make things worse (something we’ll explain in depth later in the post).
“No one ever told me my concussion could cause depression.”
It should come as no surprise that COVID-19 — both the illness itself and all the situational changes that come with the coronavirus pandemic — is messing with our minds. Many people are experiencing heightened anxiety in response to the pandemic, and not just people who have experienced anxiety before.
While the world wrestles with the COVID-19 pandemic, most news coverage is focused on what’s before us: death tolls, the emergence of new signs and symptoms, and the search for viable treatments. And this is as it should be. However, there’s something you should know that the news does not often emphasize: Of the many people who recover from COVID-19, a small percentage will have consequences of the disease that will outlast acute infection.
Note: While this quiz will give you some insight into your current conditions, your results are only as good as your answers. It is not a substitute for seeing a doctor and is not official medical advice. If you’re experiencing any of the signs of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), seek medical attention immediately. Otherwise, feel free to use this quiz as a starting point to determine if you need further care. Also note that, while we may record your responses, it is not linked with any personally-identifying information.
There is no exact time frame for recovering from a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), otherwise known as a concussion. The majority of people who sustain an acute concussion recover within a few weeks. For a small percentage, however, concussion symptoms persist for weeks, months, or even years after their brain injury. This condition, known as post-concussion syndrome (PCS), leaves frustrated patients searching for answers and concussion treatment options that might help.
[Note: This article was written during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We recommend that you check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for travel advisories and health information when making travel decisions.]
"All I remember is hearing screeching and then blackness," Anthony Loubet said as he talked about the car accident that changed his life.
If you’ve had a concussion (or two, or three … ), there’s a good chance someone told you to rest in a dark room and do nothing until your symptoms go away. But research over the past few years has revealed that resting in a dark room (known as “cocooning”) is not the best way to treat a concussion.
Post-concussion syndrome occurs when concussion symptoms persist for months or years after sustaining a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). If you or a loved one received a post-concussion syndrome (PCS) diagnosis, you're probably wondering if it's treatable. (Short answer: yes!) You may also want to know how long recovery takes, what you can do to alleviate symptoms, and whether what you're experiencing is "normal." We treat post-concussion patients every day and regularly answer these questions for our patients. This guide will help you understand post-concussion syndrome in depth by answering a number of questions, including:
We can all agree that nausea is terrible. If it’s a one-time thing because you ate expired yogurt, well, it’s not the end of the world — you’ll be back to normal in a day or two. But nausea that lasts for days? Or comes back every time you exercise? It’s awful.
The topic of football concussions is a controversial one. If you’re a football player worried about the long-term health of your brain, it can be confusing to wade through all the information out there. Opinions range anywhere from people claiming that all the worry about football concussions is ruining the game to those who want to ban tackle football, at least for children, permanently.
Modern traditional medicine has transformed the way we diagnose and treat disease and injury. And in most cases, it is extremely effective. But it doesn’t always provide the solutions patients need to improve their quality of life, especially when they suffer from poorly characterized ailments (such as unexplained chronic pain, fibromyalgia, or movement disorders).
If you’re struggling to recover after a brain injury, dealing with healthcare providers is often a frustrating process. Unless you have a clear, severe injury, they might be dismissive of your symptoms or just may not have enough treatment options to help you. Oftentimes, they’ll order an MRI or a CT scan.
Brain fog is one of the most common symptoms of a concussion. On lists of warning signs of a concussion, it might be listed as “trouble concentrating,” “slowness in thinking,” or even “difficulty remembering and learning new information.”
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is difficult enough to handle alone. When you add concussions into the mix, it can feel overwhelming. The relationship between ADHD, concussions, and post-concussion syndrome is still being researched, but that doesn’t mean there’s no good info or treatment options for patients who need them.
Light sensitivity (photophobia) can manifest in different ways for different people. For example, you might:
Personality changes (or what feels like them) are common following a traumatic brain injury. Even a concussion can affect the brain long after it’s healed from the initial injury. The way we process and understand information can change as a result of the injury, so it’s not surprising that our emotions are affected, too.
I started figure skating competitively when I was eight years old. I loved the feeling of flying across the ice, the “wind” racing across my skin, vaulting into the air and sailing through a landing. Like many, I dreamed of the Olympics, and I poured every ounce of energy into training.
If you ask the average American which sport causes the most concussions, they’re probably going to say, “football.” It’s a contact sport with violent collisions on many plays. Football players take repeated hits to the head and often suffer concussions.
Dealing with a concussion can be a confusing and frustrating experience. Unlike straight-forward illnesses that can be diagnosed by a simple lab test, there is no easy, one-size-fits-all test to diagnose concussions. Not everyone experiences the same symptoms, and the road to recovery is unpredictable.
Chris Nicastro’s head was pounding. He opened his eyes, wincing at the bright lights from the bathroom vanity. It took a few moments for him to remember where he was: sprawled on the floor after fainting out of the blue. As he realized he hit his head — now for the fourth time — his heart sank. Another concussion.
If you’ve been reading about concussion diagnosis and symptoms and feel confused, that’s pretty normal. Most advice about concussions feels vague. It’s hard to know what applies to you. And if you’re like most patients, you may be second-guessing yourself and unsure of whether to see a doctor after your injury.
If you speak to him today, you’d never be able to guess that Nathan “Nate” Benson is a brain injury survivor. The Bountiful, Utah native is in his final year of undergraduate school for a Neuroscience degree at Brigham Young University (BYU).
It’s not uncommon for people in today’s society to be tired. The demands on our time seem to be never ending. However, there’s a difference between being tired from being on the go all of the time and the feeling of extreme fatigue.
If you’ve recently suffered a concussion, you might be confused about when and how to return to exercise. Maybe you were told to avoid all physical activity until you feel better. But what if that time never comes?
When you get a concussion, you may worry about when it’s safe to sleep. You might even have a friend or a family member wake you up every few hours. And while that is sometimes necessary (if you have a severe injury and have not yet received medical attention), most of the time, it’s better to sleep as much as you can while you heal.
Many people who have a concussion suffer from some kind of vision problem as a result of the concussion. However, except for “blurry vision” or “sensitivity to light,” the vision problems people often experience after head trauma are not usually listed among the most common concussion-related symptoms. These symptoms are often overlooked and left untreated, or they are not treated as effectively as possible.
Are you still experiencing post-concussion syndrome symptoms even after resting like your doctor recommended? If you’re frustrated, tired, and in pain because your concussion symptoms won’t go away, you’re not alone.
If you’re searching for answers and think you might have post-concussion syndrome (PCS), the path to diagnosis can be challenging. Few medical professionals are experts on the condition, and many lack the most sophisticated diagnostic tools. Many doctors will make a diagnosis based on concussion symptom history and a quick physical examination. Others will supplement their findings with imaging or computerized testing.
“I feel like there’s a tight band around my head.” “My head feels like it’s blowing up like a balloon.” “I have a constant pressure headache.” “I feel like my head is being pulled apart between the eyes.”
When Sam Pembleton arrived at Cognitive FX for post-concussion syndrome treatment, she was shaking. Her nerves were so bad that she couldn’t speak to the other people in the waiting room. When they put her in the MRI machine, she panicked. It took several tries just to get through the scan.
Quirien Willemsen is a happy, busy mother to three young girls in Loenen aan de Vecht, The Netherlands. She works as a legal counsel for a bank, loves going skiing on holiday, and embraces life to the fullest. But just six months prior to this interview, it seemed like that lifestyle was lost forever.
Memory loss is a common concussion symptom. But what many patients don’t know is that it comes in multiple forms and might not go away with time.
A regular MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) looks at brain structure and integrity. While it is helpful for diagnosing structural brain damage, it can’t often be used to detect post-concussion syndrome (PCS). However, a specialized form of MRI called functional neurocognitive imaging (fNCI) can detect PCS.
In post-concussion syndrome (PCS), a patient with a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) experiences persistent symptoms from the injury. The symptoms might last months, years, or even decades after the event if left untreated.
Whenever we hold a new patient consultation, we discuss the medicine and supplements that patient has been taking for concussion symptoms. We see a variety of medications for concussion that doctors throughout the U.S. and Europe are prescribing. We also see if they’ve been helping or hindering our patients.
If you notice symptoms after a concussion, it’s best not to wait to seek treatment. If you’re the type to “wait it out” and see if things get better, then we recommend waiting no longer than three months. After that, it is very unlikely your symptoms will improve, so it makes sense to pursue active rehabilitation of concussion and post-concussion syndrome (especially if those symptoms interfere with your everyday life).
After a brain injury, survivors and family members often describe having difficulty adjusting to life’s changes and losses. Survivors oftentimes face post-injury challenges that make can recovery difficult. They may have trouble paying attention, communicating, or having the energy to complete day to day tasks. Going to doctor’s appointments, handling financial issues and coping with conflict within the family can seem to take up all of their time. To make matters worse, having trouble with handling stress and easily feeling overwhelmed are quite common for survivors.
Neuroplasticity, from a clinician’s view, is the ability of the brain to change and heal itself. From a scientific perspective, neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to affect the synaptic transmission of information in response to external stimuli.
Did you know that folate comes from the Latin word folium, which means leaf? Folate is a naturally occurring form of the vitamin B9. Folate is a water-soluble vitamin that has many important functions in your body. Some of the important functions folate aides in are the creation of DNA and RNA, formation of neurotransmitters, and the formation of the nervous system during pregnancy. Folate is also known to help with depression, mental fatigue, and irritability because it can be quickly broken down and supply the body with energy. (this is why drinks like 5-hour energy contain B9 along with other B vitamins).
The medical community can be painfully slow to adopt best practices, and concussion care is no exception. Many doctors and clinics recommend “cocooning” — i.e., rest and inactivity in a dark room until symptoms disappear — even though research shows that is not the best way to treat a concussion.
A concussion and multiple concussions can cause symptoms like depression, trouble focusing, irritability and other symptoms that make your child feel like seem like they are not themselves. Brain damage from a concussion can cause emotional symptoms that do not resolve on their own. As a parent, you may have noticed that your child did not to act out or have behavioral problems before the concussion. Understanding that the behavior or complaints you recognize in your child or teen are unusual for them, it is safe to assume it is due to the concussion. While some symptoms like moodiness, rudeness, or anxiety may come from other possible sources, it is possible that they’re coming from a concussion they sustained. Your child does not want to be grumpy or suddenly outburst over simple occurrences. It is not uncommon for children and teens to have behavior difficulties resulting from a concussion diagnosis, associated behavior symptoms/changes include:
Samuel Gray spent his entire life trying to push past an invisible wall. His symptoms — things like brain fog, noise sensitivity, short-term memory loss, anxiety, and depression — made every day a challenge. And for most of the thirty-three years he suffered, he had no idea that his challenges stemmed from a childhood traumatic brain injury.
In her youth, Myrthe van Boon loved playing sports and being outside. On breaks from school, she loved going sailing or teaching others how to sail. Her favorite holiday destination was going to the mountains to hit the slopes. But that life disappeared in an instant when she fell during a skiing trip at age 22.
Brain fitness has two basic principles: variety and curiosity. When you do something so frequently that it becomes second nature, it is time for a change. If you can do the newspaper crossword puzzle with your eyes closed, it's time for you to find a new challenge to get the best workout for your brain. Being curious about the world around you, how it works, and how you can understand it will keep your mind working fast and efficiently. The tips below will help you on your quest for mental fitness.
If you’re like the majority of people who have had a concussion, then you likely recovered a few weeks afterward and have felt fine ever since then. Concussive symptoms typically resolve in 7 to 10 days (sports-related concussions) or within 3 months (non-athletes). But not everyone is that fortunate: up to 30% of post-concussion patients have lingering symptoms that don’t go away with time and rest. And even if you do recover and walk away with no long-term symptoms, it isn’t without consequence: You will always be more susceptible to another concussion than someone who hasn’t had one, particularly during the first year after your concussion.
If you visit a healthcare professional for a concussion, you’ll probably be told to lie down in a dark room until all your symptoms go away. If you get any other advice, it’s usually just another way of saying, “Rest.” But in most cases, that’s not the best way to treat a concussion. And in our experience treating hundreds of patients, many of whom have had symptoms that lasted for months or years, we know that it can be frustratingly ineffective.
Concussion symptoms can be confusing. They don’t always show up right away, they can come and go, and they don’t always go away without extra therapy. We treat concussion patients every day and answer these questions for our patients regularly. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to concussion symptoms, including:
Parents love their children and want to provide the best possible support and care for their children. When your child or teen has a concussion or is trying to cope with long-term concussion symptoms, it can be challenging to know what to do and how much to do for your child. We understand watching your loved one be in pain, sort through the frustration and changes that come with experiencing a brain injury is not an easy adjustment for you. Naturally, we want to reduce the suffering of those we love, we begin to do more things for them with the intention to help them get better faster, or to reduce their level of stress. Sometimes the desire to take care of them can shift the relationship dynamic to a more codependent relationship. As children become young adults, it is important to instill a sense of interdependence, a space that encourages the teen to learn to be independent with support, guidelines, and a safety net. This empowers them to grow into healthy independent adults. This is also true for those who have a concussion and are learning what they are truly capable of.
Did you know the scientific name for an Avocado is Persea Americana? The avocado is prized for its high nutrient value and is added to various dishes due to its flavor and texture. The avocado has become an extraordinarily popular food among health-conscious individuals. It is known as a super-food, which isn’t surprising because of its health properties.
Going to school can be tough for any child or teen during this phase in their lives. They’re discovering themselves and where they fit in a sea of opportunities. Attending school can be especially tough when they are experiencing concussion symptoms. These symptoms can make your child or teen feel socially isolated because other children or teens don’t understand why they can no longer participate in gym class or why their class schedule has changed. It can be tough for your child to explain why things have changed or they might feel embarrassed about the changes that happened at school.
If you're like most people whose mood is impacted by the winter season, chances are you've woken up on a gray, winter day and wanted to stay in bed. We understand a case of the winter blues is likely to develop like the common cold. We have come up with a couple of ways to overcome this season's case of the winter blues, and we hope you can find the sunshine even on the rough days.
Did you know that concussions are among of the top injuries sustained while skiing and snowboarding? Beginners and professionals alike need to be equipped with the tools to stay safe on the slopes.
Parents who support their children recovering from post-concussion syndrome or symptoms (PCS) are in challenging circumstances. Many times parents and their injured child, are not fully supported throughout recovery. Often they are left with unanswered questions, and they are left searching and seeking resources to help them to help their child. We have asked parents of our patients, and parents of those who take care of individuals with PCS for things that would help others in their journey and this is what we gathered. The Recovery Rollercoaster We know this process can be frustrating, overwhelming, and it is a roller coaster of emotions for all involved. Throughout this process, you may experience feelings of frustration, empathy, and in some cases even heartache, hopelessness, and fear. It’s hard to watch your child suffer and feel you can’t do anything about it.
A concussion is a result of the head receiving a significant blow or jolt causing the brain to impact with the skull. This sudden movement will cause the brain to bounce or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging brain cells. The severity of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can range from mild (a short change in consciousness) to severe (a long period of unconsciousness or memory loss after injury).
What Is The Ketogenic Diet? The Ketogenic diet was developed in 1921 to treat epileptic children. This diet was originally designed for 80 to 90 percent of calories to come from fat, 5 to15 percent to come from protein, and 5 to 10 percent to come from carbohydrates.
Concussions occur as the result of a rapid movement of the head and neck which causes the brain to shift and impact the skull. This sudden movement causes injury to the delicate structures, cells, neurons and blood vessels inside your brain. The impact of the injury can cause both physical and chemical changes in your brain and affect how it functions because it alters the systems in your brain. Medical professionals usually describe concussions as a mild form of TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury or mTBI) but, even the “mildest” concussions can cause serious effects and impact a person’s quality of life.
Oxford Dictionaries defines stress as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Everyone is very familiar with experiencing stressful events in their life. Stress occurs every day and comes in various forms. Stress from trying to juggle family, work, friends, and school commitments can be overwhelming. Stress can also develop from issues like health, money, and relationships.
Quite often we are asked what makes Cognitive FX unique in relation to clinics that have a background in functional neurology, including Brain Plasticity Centers. Here we review 8 key ways we are unique. 1- Our key founders have a degree in neuroscience or have been to medical school. Two of our founders hold a PhD and two of our founders is an MD. The founders brought together a team of multidisciplinary accredited therapists and trainers, each in their own discipline, to standardize a unique imaging and treatment protocol to effectively treat post-concussion symptoms. This includes neuroscientists, speech-language pathologists, psychologists, athletic trainers, licensed massage therapists, occupational therapists, and other professionals. 2- The thing that makes us the most unique is our objective imaging. Functional Neurocognitive Imaging (fNCI) looks at different regions of the brain and gives you a clear view of which brain regions are working correctly and which ones are not working as they should. This imaging is looking directly at your brain, not at any other parts of the body. When a doctor only looks at symptoms to try to figure out what is going on in the brain, things can be missed or misdiagnosed. The fact that we treat the source of symptoms rather than the symptoms alone is very important. This empowers our multidisciplinary therapists and trainers to have a clear direction and create a plan to help you make significant improvements.
It is that time of year, time to set back your clocks by an hour. The end of daylight savings time is a time of year that many people look forward to for that extra hour of sleep. This one-hour change can have some negative impacts when it comes to driving safety.
This week is Teen Driver Safety Week, and we want to share some statistics and tips on how to keep your new driver safe in the car. Your teen being a newly licensed driver is a big milestone for you and your teen. Handing the keys to the family car to your teen might make you nervous, bringing to mind the dangers broadcasted at you from every media outlet. Not to fear, taking the right steps and supporting your teen to drive safely can make a difference. Below are three of the most common safety issues and tips on how to address these issues with your driving teen. No.1 Distracted Driving It’s no secret that distracted driving is dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that distracted driving is responsible for 15% of all crashes resulting in injuries and 10% of all crashes that concluded in fatalities. Unfortunately, many of these fatal accidents involve teen drivers. Teens are aware that distracted driving is dangerous. Over 90% of teens have admitted that they are aware of the dangers of texting while driving. Despite being aware, about a third of teens admitted they send or check texts while driving.
Essential fatty acids seem to be a big fad right now. BCC Research states, “The global market for natural fatty acids sourced from vegetable oils, animal fats is projected to reach more than $25.7 billion in 2019.” But why? What is so important? What is so essential about them? Here’s the low-down.
This week is Child Passenger Safety Week, and we want to share more about ways to keep your kids safe in the car. Car seats and boosters protect infants and children in a car accident, yet car crashes are a leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 13 years old. Car accidents often lead to traumatic brain injury for the driver and passengers, including children. The most important way to keep kids safe is by using the right car seat for them. Below are the different types of car seats on the market and the age recommendation for each type.
What imaging is used to diagnose a brain injury? After a concussion or any hit to the head, you go to the doctor, and they tell you might have a concussion, but that it is no big deal because your symptoms will just go away with some rest right? Sometimes, but not usually. It would be nice to know exactly how you are feeling to provide the best overall treatment and a new imaging technology can do that. A Functional Magnetic Resonance Image (fMRI) is an imaging technique used to diagnose concussion and recognizes changes in the brain while you are asked to engage in cognitive tasks. Most people have heard of an MRI and but fewer have heard of a functional MRI (fMRI). So what are they and what is the difference between them? MRI produces static images of the anatomy of the brain and a functional MRI produces images of what is going on inside the brain as it is working. Functional NeuroCognitive Imaging (fNCI) fNCI is a unique form of a fMRI that uses specific tests to measure how the brain is functioning. fNCI is over 98% accurate at diagnosing concussions. In the past, concussions have been subjectively diagnosed by either giving the individual a post-concussion symptom scale (PCSS) to rate the severity of their symptoms or by asking the patient if they went unconscious after getting hit.
Currently, many doctors and other medical professionals tell their patients that the majority of people who have a concussion will recover in a short amount of time (under a month). However, new studies are showing that the risk for long-term symptoms is much higher than doctors and concussion specialists previously thought. Before seeking treatment at Cognitive FX, the majority of our almost 1,000 patients struggled with their symptoms for years. We have treated patients who suffered needlessly from post-concussion symptoms for many decades. Among the oldest concussions we’ve treated was a concussion from 60 years ago. Many of these patients had given up hope that recovery was possible. They saw their symptoms as a permanent part of their lives and futures. However, our research and patient improvement reports continue to prove that patients can drastically improve from their post-concussion symptoms. So what should you do if you fall into this growing percentage of the population with long-term PCS? Below are the first steps you can take toward your recovery.
The brain loves taking the path of least resistance. This is true for blood flow and also for sending the communication signals in the brain when neurons are firing. Even a simple task requires different brain regions to work, or function, together at whatever you are trying to accomplish, be it reading this post, driving, writing, singing a song, or doing something as simple as opening your eyes, yawning, or breathing. Overall, when we are talking about brain function, we are talking about the ability for the neurons, the blood flow, and other systems in your brain to work and communicate with one another to do their job. After mTBI, injured regions of the brain can swell. Because the brain wants to take the path of least resistance, it will use different neuronal pathways to avoid the areas where there is inflammation. This change restricts blood flow in one or more regions of your brain, causing other regions to compensate for the regions that are injured. This means that different regions are over-exerting themselves to complete the work of the injured brain regions. Think of it as a receptionist who, on top of completing her own responsibilities, now has to do the job and work of the accounting department and the CEO. This imbalanced blood flow is what we call dysregulation, or dysfunction.
Over the last few months our team has been working on a new booklet to raise the level of awareness and education around concussions.
Self-care is something we all forget about—until we push ourselves too far. We want to give you a new perspective on self-care as you continue to enjoy this summer. Often, we see or hear that self-care is taking a bubble bath or taking a nap, which could be part of self-care for you. These are relaxing, but here when we talk about self-care we are not just talking about relaxing. Another way to see self-care is taking care of your well-being. When we see the connection between self-care and well-being, we can recognize it as the foundation to have a life we want. This adds a new level of importance to taking care of ourselves and those we love. When creating a summer routine, here are 10 things to consider incorporating into your life to support you and your family. When we take care of our well-being this makes us available to support others in their well-being as well.
When someone you love sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion, your whole world can change. You are launched into a world of uncertainty about the injury, recovery, and, perhaps, even who your loved one is anymore. So much can change after a TBI.
What comes to mind when you think of the word “syndrome?” Many commonly known syndromes are often associated with genetic factors or medical diseases that are often lifelong or have lasting effects. Because we know that many post-concussion symptoms are treatable, Cognitive FX agrees with the recent change in terminology and diagnosis that replaced post-concussion syndrome with the more accurate title of post-concussion symptoms. What was post-concussion syndrome? According to the latest International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), post-concussion syndrome included “subjective physical complaints (i.e. Headache, dizziness), cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes. These disturbances can be chronic, permanent, or late emerging” (King, Crawford, Wenden, Moss, & Wade, 1995). More specifically, post-concussion syndrome referred to a cluster of problems that emerge or worsen after receiving a concussion, with symptoms lasting longer than three months.
The EPIC Treatment method often brings about a significant amount of brain change in a short period of time, causing new blood flow regulation in your brain that can be drastically different than where it has been for a very long time. As with any sudden changes, the effects of this process, while overwhelmingly positive, can have some associated challenges. We call this the Traumatic Recovery Process. Every brain is unique. Every injury is unique. Thus, every recovery is unique. Understanding what to expect in the time after your week of EPIC Treatment can help you prepare for and successfully overcome these challenges.
Journaling is one of the greatest therapeutic techniques available. Journaling is free, confidential, and convenient. It offers you the opportunity to be your own therapist. You might think journaling must be done sitting down and writing in a diary-type book. If that doesn’t sound appealing, you may be excited to learn there are numerous types of journaling. You can find a style of journaling that is fun and stress relieving at the same time. Journaling offers you a way to process something and let it go. It can be incredibly helpful after a brain injury! After a brain injury, it can feel hard to express yourself and journaling is one way that can empower you to share yourself in a creative way. Discover some of the different types of journals below. Try several. If you find one you love, stick with it. If one doesn’t necessarily click for you, don’t force yourself into it. Keep experimenting until you find one that gives you emotional expression, release, or relief. Types of Journaling Write it Out Daily life and experiences: This is the type of journal many typically think of when discussing journals. Write about your day chronologically. The entries don’t have to be exhaustive. Try writing a little bit each day. Just put a pen to paper and write for a specified length of time or for a certain number of pages. Quick journal: Write one sentence a day. One word essence journaling: Write one word to summarize the day. Question a day: Answer your own questions or be guided by prompts or predetermined topics. I loved my “Q&A a Day: 5 Years Journal” I purchased on Amazon. Meditation or transition journal: After work, before you transition to home, write out all your thoughts to assist you in letting go of the stresses of the day and transition into a more relaxed state.
Water. Something we don’t really think about until we are hit with a gigantic wave of what feels like an unquenchable thirst. We then spend the next few minutes chugging water like it is the last thing we will ever do. We are all really good at coming up with excuses for why we haven’t had enough water.
A Tool to Support You in Healing After you have received treatment, or are feeling better, and are no longer feeling like your concussed/traumatic brain injury (TBI) self, you may find yourself still holding back or saying the words “I can’t.” It was a traumatic injury, sometimes the recovery can feel traumatic as well. You may have had many months while healing from your TBI where you struggled with various aspects of your life, including but not limited to, calling in sick to work because of headaches, forgetting important events, not remembering a word during an important presentation, inability to run on your treadmill due to dizziness, and feeling too tired to take care of your kids. Subsequently, you learned to set limitations for yourself. For this reason, once you’re feeling like yourself again, it can be a difficult transition to the new you.
Everything Changed After My Brain Injury Past patient, Anna Empey shares her experiences in a series of blog posts including "10 Things I Wish I had known Before my Brain Injury", "Journaling Through Recovery" and here in this post. I lived with post-concussion symptoms, from two separate brain injuries, for almost five years. It was one of the hardest periods in my life, trying to make it through each day, dealing with the migraines, and fighting to live a somewhat typical life. My second injury, which was about three years into recovering from the first injury, had pretty intense impacts on my life. I pretty much quit everything I was doing. I had to keep my job and focus on working 40 hours a week, dealing with constant exhaustion and fatigue. I started avoiding crowds and people in my daily life, and, eventually, I stopped communicating much with anyone because finding words was hard. I also lived with light and sound sensitivity along with short and long-term memory problems. At this point, it was hard to see the glass half full, and I pretty much lived like my glass was half empty.
Acceptance is the ultimate goal with regard to the stages of grief, your TBI or concussion, and the new you. Acceptance is accepting who you are, where you are, how you are. This is it. This is YOU. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And you are truly amazing. Struggles and all. You are a survivor. No one can do it better than you! Acceptance may mean distancing from people who don’t understand, give you ultimatums, enforce deadlines for healing, or get upset with you when you aren’t who you once were. You are worthy. You are deserving. You are brave and amazing. You are different than you were before your injury, but different can be good.
Headaches can be a tricky symptom to address. They are often one of several symptoms that may present itself after a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI). On another hand, headaches are not a requirement to support an actual diagnosis in a TBI or post-concussion symptoms (PCS).
Many believe the five stages of grief last weeks or months, but according to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler, the stages of grief are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. As a reminder, we do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may experience one, then another, and back again to the first one. Let each stage happen. Embrace it, learn from it, and then keep going. What is bargaining? Bargaining is a stage in the grief process that is helpful when you feel powerless over circumstances, especially after a brain injury. Bargaining is an attempt to regain control. Bargaining is frequently done with God, or a higher power, that you feel has some control over the situation. Bargaining is similar to negotiation. “I promise I’ll do this, or be this, if I can just go back in time—or have five more minutes or have one more day.” It’s interesting because you know all the bargaining in the world won’t help, but it doesn’t prevent you from trying, begging, “Please? I’ll do anything. I just want my brain back. I want me back! The way I was.” You want to go back in time—stop the accident from happening, put on protective gear, yield to that stop sign, put on your seatbelt. If only, if only, IF ONLY.
Did you play sports growing up? Hands down, my favorite sport as a kid was soccer. I loved participating in a sport where I could do something I enjoyed with teamwork involved. There was nothing better than stealing the ball and dribbling down the field past every opposing player, to score the winning goal! While soccer was an important part of my life as a child, I did not realize the implications it could have caused me. According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 3 (31%) concussions among girls and 1 in 4 (28%) concussions among boys happens in soccer while heading the ball.
Depression, one of the five stages of grief, may be the most familiar, and frustrating, feeling experienced after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion. And it’s not a fun one. Depression is a feeling of loss, emptiness, sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, and/or confusion. Depression as Part of the Five Stages of Grief After a TBI, typically you’re told to rest for days, weeks, maybe even months. A forced withdrawal from society, family, friends, work, school, everything. Then, once the rest period is over, you still may not instantly go back to the activities you’ve done in the past. You may find yourself getting lost driving to familiar places. You put food that belongs in the refrigerator in the pantry. You leave things in a very specific place to prevent losing them—only to forget where that place was! You read the same sentence seven times and still don’t understand what you read. You find yourself yelling at your spouse/children/friends for no apparent reason. You get a headache just walking across the room. The activities you used to enjoy may now cause you pain. You get dizzy running on your treadmill, and staring at your computer screen feels like torture. You may find yourself questioning your faith, your choices, your mindset, your abilities, questioning everything. Your TBI has changed your life. All of it.
Helmets are worn in countless sports and activities to protect the head from injury, specifically brain injury. We all wear helmets frequently in our lives, whether it is for something as as simple as biking or as adventurous as zip-lining. Answer this question for yourself, honestly. Do you wear a helmet 100% of the time while riding a bike or participating in a sport or an activity that requires a helmet? I remember when I was a young child I did not like wearing my helmet, especially when riding a bike. As a kid, you don’t think about the what ifs. I thought my helmet was inconvenient and uncomfortable. I was under the impression that I looked “cooler” without it. Clearly I wasn’t thinking about the consequences that could occur if I were to fall off my bike.
According to the CDC, “Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for all children ages 0 to 19.” Each day, there are about 8,000 children who are admitted to emergency rooms due to falls. This amounts to a tragic number of 3 million children each year. Think of your own child, niece, nephew, or a child you care for. Children are energetic, loud, and curious as they are constantly learning and trying to figure out who they are in this world. They bring so much happiness to our lives with their optimism and genuine spirits. When it comes to protecting your children, preventing a brain injury is more important than it may appear.
Adults 65+ years have the highest rates of traumatic brain injury (TBI) deaths, according to the New York Department of Health. Regardless of your age now, we all get older, even if we don’t want to. You can also think about your parents and grandparents, and the importance of helping those you love prevent an injury. Through these tips, you can learn how to reduce the risk of the elderly, or yourself from a concussion or brain injury. While a brain injury cannot fully be prevented here are some suggestions. Here are some tips to help prevent falls, specifically for the elderly:
The Cognitive FX Foundation is excited to present an afternoon about Brain Injury Awareness with TBI Survivor and Advocate Rekha Iyer. More Speakers include: Stephanie Kifowit, Illinois State Representative along with TBI Survivor, Amy Zellmer, Dr. Ryan Edwards and Dr. Lindsey Stull from the Dynamic Center for Vision Therapy, Chrys Chrysanthou the CEO of ClearEdge Brain Health Toolkit and Jash Desai. Please joins us this Saturday, March 31, in Oak Brook, Illinois from 3-5 pm. Donations of $25 per person to attend are encouraged but not required. RSVP Here This event will kickstart efforts to advance industry changing brain research, make treatment available to more people, and deliver to the masses the correct education to inspire impactful legislative changes.
After a traumatic brain injury or concussion, relationships can become strained. Communication can be difficult. Let’s be honest, thinking can be difficult. Sorting out your feelings and sharing them in a healthy way may feel impossible. After a TBI, the areas of your brain that affect processing, language, and word retrieval, can be affected. It takes extra energy and effort to communicate after a TBI. It may feel overwhelming or exhausting. The good news is it is possible to have healthy communication after a brain injury. It may take more effort and practice, but it is a real possibility. My memory struggles didn’t make communicating more difficult, but it did require me to come up with some simple tools to remember how to communicate effectively.
Anger is a stage in the grief process. Many times when we experience loss, or trauma, we experience anger, irritability, frustration, or even frequent annoyance. Anger is a healthy emotion, one we don’t necessarily like, but it’s not wrong to feel angry. Experiencing anger doesn’t say anything negative about us. We feel like just about anything could be the “straw that breaks the camel's back”. Anger is a common emotion most of us are familiar with, prior to injury. We frequently pretend we have control over it. After the injury, we recognize we may not be able to control it. Why do we have anger? Anger can cause us to do, or say, things we don’t mean, we later regret, and can’t take back. Anger isn’t the problem, it’s what we do with those feelings that matters. Anger can cause us problems, but anger is also beneficial.
Written by the Brain Injury Alliance of Utah
What is Denial? Denial is a stage in the grief process. Many times it just doesn’t feel real. We may believe we’re imagining the pain or trauma we’re currently experiencing. It’s a bad dream, a nightmare. We’re in shock and we’re anxious to wake up and go back to our normal reality.
As we start a new year, now is an excellent time to implement a new routine to help you live the life you want. Not sure where to start? Begin by thinking about these questions:
If you have had a recent brain injury and are unsure how to deal with the symptoms and changes you are experiencing, then this post is for you! To begin with, we encourage you to find a doctor and work with them throughout your recovery. Finding the right doctor to be on your team is very important to a successful recovery. Typically, you will follow the return to play protocol, starting with rest and self-care. Then you can use the following suggestions to help you adjust to the changes after a concussion or TBI. I wish I had a list things to do to support me in my mntal health when I experienced my TBI.
Past patient, Anna Empey shares her experiences in a series of blog posts including "Perspective After a Brain Injury" and here in this post. I sustained my first concussion in July of 2011, playing broom hockey. My roller skates slipped out from under my feet, and I hit the back of my head on the right side on cement. I didn’t know how severe my concussion was until I went to the doctor a week later with symptoms such as: Blurry Vision Headaches Fatigue Not Feeling Like Myself Difficulty remembering things including locations, words, names, and more. Problems sleeping and waking up At the time, it was diagnosed as a "grade 3" concussion, which means I also had lost consciousness for more than 30 minutes. I was told to rest for a few months, and slowly I got back into my life over the next six months. I came to Cognitive FX in 2015 about 9 months after I sustained another concussion on the front right side of my head in a car accident. It has taken me time to be grateful for both of my injuries, but most importantly I am thankful for who and where I am now. I wanted to share 10 things I wish I would have known before I had a brain injury.
Grief and loss are a part of life, but they are the least talked about part of life. Have you ever wondered why that is? It is because grief is HARD. Going through it is difficult. We seem to feel if we avoid talking about it, we will avoid feeling grief entirely. Wrong. Maybe you have heard of the Stages of Grief, and maybe you haven’t. Either way, you are experiencing grief, due to a recent brain injury, concussion, TBI, or trauma. Learning about the stages of grief gives validation and understanding. But, know that there is no wrong way to grieve. There is only your way. Grief is unique. You may experience all of the stages, or you may not. In what order, for what length of time, or how severe it will be is unpredictable. Stages may last minutes, or months. Not knowing is the irritating part! Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler developed the Five Stages of Grief as a framework to deal with death, dying, and loss of a loved one. More information can be found at grief.com. I believe these stages apply to all loss, including brain injury.
Out of all of the injuries a person can suffer in an automobile accident, brain injuries are probably one of the worst. The consequences of a brain injury are often severe and long-term. Brain injuries can be as minor as concussions, headaches, and dizziness or involve more serious conditions like memory loss or physical damage to brain tissue. Brain injuries can be difficult to detect and should be treated immediately by a medical professional.
Everyone’s experience is different. Anyone experiencing a concussion or TBI has a different story, different outlook on life, and different symptoms, their experience of EPIC Treatment is going to be different as well. With that said, here’s my experience. I was injured 17 years before I received treatment, and you can read more about how I got my injury in another post here if you are interested. Hopefully, my story validates some of your experience, gives hope, and provides direction. To begin with, I was surprised my schedule wasn’t more packed with activities. I questioned if this would work. I received over 25 hours of treatment during the week when I was expecting a 40 hour week. By the end of the week, I appreciated that I didn’t have a 40-hour schedule because I don’t think my brain could have handled it. Day One: I walked into the office on Monday morning. I was handed the check-in questionnaire. I filled out the Post Concussion Symptom Scale (PCSS) check-in and check-out questionnaire each day of treatment. CFX uses the questionnaires to monitor symptoms throughout the week, and is used as a measurement in their research. As I sat down to complete the simple form, I started to cry. I’m not against crying, but it takes a lot to push me to tears. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I called my husband. He said a quick “Focus, give it your best, and I love you.” Then I met Porter. Porter is one of the Patient Care Coordinators and I really felt support from him while I was at Cognitive FX. I didn’t have any idea what to expect. I was nervous. He gave me a tour, and we got started. *Sometimes you might also have an fNCI on your first day. I got my first scan done before I started treatment for my brain injury.
I was in an auto accident on January 2, 2001. I received a severe TBI, broke my back, pelvis, jaw, ribs, and pretty much every bone in my body. I was grateful to be alive, but after a few years I had accepted the fact that I was going to be deficient for the rest of my life.
A concussion is defined as “the result of the forceful motion of the head or impact causing a brief change in mental status (confusion, disorientation, or memory loss), with or without a loss of consciousness.”
During the holidays it gets hectic and extremely stressful, particularly for those who already are trying to cope with everyday life with post-concussion syndrome or a concussion.
As Susan A. Connors said, “No brain injury is too mild to ignore or too severe to lose hope, but all brain injuries – including concussion – should be taken seriously.” Yes. a concussion is considered a brain injury. Many may not realize a concussion is a brain injury because it is called "mild," but it is vital that we recognize that ANY damage to the brain is a brain injury. We take concussions very seriously here at Cognitive FX and we specialize in concussion treatment along with treatment for other neurological diseases. No matter how normal a person with a concussion may appear, a concussion can have significant impact on an individual’s life and their ability to function. We are finding that the right treatment protocols can bring improvement, even for individuals who have been diagnosed with Post-Concussion Syndrome.
Drowsy driving prevention focuses on "Stay alert, arrive alive." The national sleep foundation is helping to raise awareness of drowsy driving and the risks of driving when you are tired.
Booster Days are designed to help previous Cognitive FX patients obtain additional support after EPIC Treatment if needed.
It’s getting to be that time when children’s obsession with all things strange and maybe slightly scary is reaching an all-time high. They are picking out costumes, eagerly awaiting the sugar high they’ll inevitably have, followed no doubt by a SERIOUS sugar crash. It’s an exciting time; they get to be somebody else for just one night. Let’s go over some safety tips and tricks to ensure that the worst parts about Halloween are sugar crashes and an increased chance of cavities.
When it comes to multitasking, we all think we’re great at it, but really only about 2% of people can successfully multitask, according to Psychology Today. Even if you think you MIGHT be one of these people, chances are, you’re probably not. Yet it seems that we all like to test out that theory in inappropriate places, specifically when we’re on the road. Most of us have sent a text or talked on the phone while driving, but we also all have been in or know someone who has been in an accident involving distracted driving. You’d think we would have gotten the hint by now, especially with driving laws being the way that they are. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, “ 15 states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving”, and “all states except 2 include at least one category for distraction on police crash report forms.”
Amber received her Bachelor’s Degree in Athletic Training from Brigham Young University in December of 2016. She is a certified and licensed athletic trainer. She also works at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, where she responds to and helps rehabilitate missionaries in training who hurt themselves during their recreation time. While she was a student at BYU, she participated in clinical rotations with local sites, including BYU’s football team, BYU’s softball team, and Provo High School’s athletics.
Dr. Mark Allen, and Dr. Alina Fong presented at Pink Concussions 4th conference Pink 4 hosted in Rome, Italy after the Pediatric Aquired Brain Injury Conference. This presentation explores important topics related to concussion research and development which leads to better concussion treatment, and treatment outcomes.
According to the CDC, “there are around 2.8 million TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths each year in the United States. TBI contributed to the deaths of almost 50,000 people. TBI was a diagnosis in more than 282,000 hospitalizations and 2.5 million ER visits. These consisted of TBI alone or TBI in combination with other injuries.”
Past patient, Anna Empey shares her experiences in a series of blog posts including "Perspective After a Brain Injury," "10 Things I Wish I had Know Before my Brain Injury," and here in this post. When I first was recovering, I felt like I couldn’t find words to write about my experience. I couldn’t explain either written or vocally how I was feeling or what I was going through. Over time, writing became something that helped me learn how to gather my thoughts and express myself. I focused more on the act of writing something down rather than if it was written perfectly or exactly accurate. Continually writing helped me find ways to get better at it.
Long before Cognitive FX was created, Dr. Mark Allen, PhD, and Dr. Alina Fong, PhD began searching for a greater understanding of the brain. Their focus has been on how the brain works and how each region of the brain contributes to functionality. As they began searching for answers, they began to understand how the brain functions, and its subtle but powerful abilities. Over time after collecting a wealth of data, they established a strong foundation of what a normal brain should function like and created an objective scale where we can measure where individuals should be for optimal brain functioning. Clinical Application of fNCI Begins After years researching and applying the technology of fMRI and adapting it they started a company with key partners called Notus, which provided the technology known as Notus Functional NeuroCognitive Imaging or fNCI. Notus started applying this technology in the clinical setting as interest grew in the community. This technology is now used in military hospitals, clinics, private hospitals, and more. Clinicians see that fNCI is useful as a diagnostic tool to understand what is happening with their patients in ways they could not understand before. fNCI inspects over 60 distinct regions of the brain. For example, physicians can better understand a complex brain injury by understanding which brain regions are not working instead of using a one word summary "concussion".
Sleep: something we tell ourselves we don’t have time for, yet we always seem to need more of it.
The new school year is just around the corner; kids are preparing for another year of learning, friendships, and experiences, and mothers are rejoicing everywhere! Whether it’s vocabulary tests, after school clubs, or sports, your kids are going to be kept pretty busy, and you want them to have the best and safest year possible. The benefits of getting children physically active at a young age are numerous. According to The Aspen Institute, physically active children are 15% more likely to attend college, score up to 40% higher on tests, and are 1/10th as likely to be obese. Whether this is their first year or their last participating in sports, every child wants to perform the best they can. Every parent wants their child to have a good time while also staying safe so they can keep playing the sports they love now and lead healthier and more successful lives later. http://youthreport.projectplay.us/the-solution Here are some tips on things to help you keep your athlete safe and have a successful season.
The brain is the most important organ in the human body. It regulates the profuse amount of information that the body needs to regulate itself. This includes comprehending pain levels, regulating blood pressure, controlling nervous response, creating and secreting hormones, assisting digestion, along with coordinating the countless other signals the body sends to the brain to help our body function. It is so important to give your brain the vital nutrients it needs to keep your body running in tip top shape.
Ariel is a Neurological occupational Therapist at Cognitive FX.
The Cognitive FX EPIC Treatment program is designed to help patients recover from a concussion in a week. Centered around the specific deficits and symptoms of each patient, this week is intense for the mind, brain, and body, and uniquely customized to each individual. We use standard modalities that have been amplified for our patient’s specific needs such as Neurological Occupational Therapy, NeuroMuscular Therapy, Vision Therapy, Brain Games, De-stimulation and more. Our team focuses on giving the “Just Right Challenge” to help our patients know when to push through an exercise or when to rest or slow down a bit. The “Just Right Challenge” is simple. As you start the day you work to get to your optimal activity level. We often try to push through the mental and or physical challenges. Instead of pushing through pain and symptoms to the point of crashing, we have you slow down or take a short break , with the goal to get back to your optimal activity level again. As you move forward with this challenge, the goal is to need and take fewer breaks.
On a regular basis, we’re asked if gender and/or age influence one’s ability to recover. We are also asked if how someone was injured, or how long it has been since their injury will influence their ability to recover. Our research has found that while it is important to understand these demographics, these factors don’t deter the ability to recover in a short period of time.
Any good scientist knows that in every good data set there must be a way to look at the data objectively and subjectively. Without both types of data, it can be hard to have a full picture and understanding of what is being studied. What Does Objective Measurement Mean? Objective measurement is something that is measured consistently. For example, measuring how well someone can perform a set number of tasks in a controlled environment. There are no other factors that can alter the data gathered with this measurement.