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The Cognitive FX Blog

Your source for everything you need to know about traumatic brain injury and concussions.

What Makes Cognitive FX Unique

What Makes Cognitive FX Unique?

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Cognitive FX Team

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.

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How to Help the New Driver in Your Home Stay Safe

How to Help the New Driver in Your Home Stay Safe

Image of Ashley van Biljon
Ashley van Biljon

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.

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Understand the Differences Between Your Car Seat Options for Child Passenger Safety Week

Understand the Differences Between Your Car Seat Options for Child Passenger Safety Week

Image of Ashley van Biljon
Ashley van Biljon

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.

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Diagnosing Concussion with functional NeuroCognitive Imaging

Diagnosing Concussion with functional NeuroCognitive Imaging

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Cognitive FX Team

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. 

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What to do when concussion symptoms last a long time

What to do When Concussion Symptoms Last a Long Time?

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Cognitive FX Team

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.

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Connection Between Concussion Symptoms and Brain Function

Connection Between Concussion Symptoms and Brain Function

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Cognitive FX Team

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.

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10 Summer Self-Care Tips

10 Summer Self-Care Tips

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Cognitive FX Team

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.

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Shifting from Post-Concussion Syndrome to Post-Concussion Symptoms

Shifting from Post-Concussion Syndrome to Post-Concussion Symptoms

Image of Dr. Christiane Paney PhD
Dr. Christiane Paney PhD

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.

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The Traumatic Recovery Process

The Traumatic Recovery Process

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Cognitive FX Team

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.

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Journaling Techniques and Ideas After a Brain Injury

Journaling Techniques and Ideas After a Brain Injury

Guest Author - Aimee Mortensen

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.
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Letter to My TBI Self

Letter to My TBI Self

Guest Author - Aimee Mortensen

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.

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Perspective After Brain Injury Throughout Recovery

Perspective After Brain Injury Throughout Recovery

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Cognitive FX Team

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. 

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Acceptance After a Brain Injury

Acceptance After a Brain Injury

Guest Author - Aimee Mortensen

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

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Bargaining After a Brain Injury

Bargaining After a Brain Injury

Guest Author - Aimee Mortensen

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.

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