Diagnosing a concussion can be a challenging process. There is no definitive test to confirm the diagnosis with 100% certainty. Instead, doctors often rely on subjective descriptions of symptoms and simple neurological examinations to check systems such as vision, balance, and cognition.
You’d think a family of eight with the foresight to pull their children out of school earlier than the rest of the nation would be safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, seven out of the eight family members contracted the coronavirus at the very beginning of the pandemic, back when testing was frustratingly difficult to obtain, and our knowledge about the disease was limited.
Concussions, a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), pose potentially significant health issues no matter their severity. Despite this, as many as five in 10 concussions aren’t reported or detected.
If you’ve been feeling fuzzy-headed and have been struggling to concentrate since you’ve had COVID-19, you’re not alone. Even months after the disease, some patients still can’t shake the feeling that their brain is lost in a maze. Many describe it as walking through a fog, unable to see where they’re going.
Have you ever gotten stuck in a task, set it aside for a while, and then discovered that it somehow seemed easy when you came back to it? If so, you’ve experienced the power of strategic breaks to re-energize your brain. If you’re recovering from a traumatic brain injury, these breaks play a vital role in revitalizing your brain throughout the day.
Sustaining a traumatic brain injury can be a challenging experience. You probably felt angry, demoralized, helpless, and even hopeless in the days following your injury. For some people, these feelings eventually subside and disappear — but that didn't happen for you.
If you’ve been struggling with lingering symptoms after a brain injury and even a mild jog is enough to trigger misery, then you might flinch at the idea of high-intensity interval training as a recovery method. But there is a way to exercise while keeping your symptom levels down.
If you have post-concussion syndrome (PCS), then you likely know how difficult it is to get an accurate diagnosis and comprehensive treatment. Many medical doctors don’t have the resources to treat PCS effectively, or they rely exclusively on pharmaceuticals that help some symptoms while making others worse. So when you find a healthcare provider who (a) actually knows what post-concussion syndrome is, and (b) claims to treat it, then it’s worth following up.
Many people have neck pain after a concussion or whiplash injury. It may show up immediately after your injury or weeks to months afterward. That pain may involve stiffness, tension, sharp pain, and pain associated with certain movements or behaviors (e.g., looking at your phone). The pain may feel deep or superficial.
Tingling hands following a concussion (mild traumatic brain injury, or mTBI) might sound relatively minor, but for anyone who’s had the misfortune to experience this symptom, it can be painful, puzzling, and disruptive to daily activities.
Receiving a concussion in a car accident can be an extremely traumatic experience, regardless of whether you were at fault.
Any head injury — including concussion — can cause symptoms that last for years after the injury. Up to 30% of post-concussion patients experience symptoms beyond the expected three-month recovery window. Other types of brain injury, such as severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), transient ischemic attack (TIA), certain viral or bacterial illnesses, carbon monoxide poisoning, surgery, and chemical exposure can result in lingering symptoms, too.
The type of head injury doctor you need to see depends on the type of injury you’ve experienced and how long ago the injury occurred. Doctors who excel at concussion treatment, for example, are often not the doctors you would see for a skull fracture.
Brain injury recovery is hard. The severity of your injury, which parts of your brain were affected, and how they were affected, all factor into things such as how much you can recover and how long it will take.
If you’ve experienced a concussion or traumatic brain injury, you may already know that a bewildering array of symptoms can occur days, months, and even years after the injury.
Severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion (mild traumatic brain injury or mTBI), and other head trauma can cause high blood pressure, low blood pressure, and other circulatory system changes. Head injury may lead to dysfunction in the autonomic nervous system (a condition known as dysautonomia), which in turn can cause blood pressure dysfunction and other symptoms to persist for months or years after the injury. Some patients experience a particular type of dysautonomia known as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), which we discuss further in the post.
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!
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.
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.
Low energy, difficulty concentrating, brain fog, anxiety, depression, memory problems...
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.”
Anxiety. Depression. Irritability. Dramatic mood swings. Difficulty sleeping and concentrating.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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:
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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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.
Over the last few months our team has been working on a new booklet to raise the level of awareness and education around concussions.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.”
About a year ago I did an interview over the phone with a sports-talk radio show in Texas. The topic was concussion in high school football (Texas is all about high school football). I talked about treatment for long-term concussion effects and how new therapies are available that can be extremely effective. I also mentioned research that shows treatment effectiveness even when the concussion (or concussions) happened years earlier.