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Concussion Treatment

If you’ve hit your head recently, or even experienced a sudden and jerking movement in your head and body, and are experiencing pain, you could be suffering from a mild traumatic brain injury, known as a concussion. In this case, it is important to seek care from a doctor as soon as possible. Concussions are often mild and resolve on their own, but they can also be serious in cases where the impact was intense. You may not even realize that a blow to the head was severe enough to cause a concussion. At AICA Atlanta, our doctors will be able to look for signs of a brain injury and help you develop a concussion treatment plan.

What Is a Concussion?

A concussion is a form of mild traumatic brain injury that impacts the function of your brain. The condition is caused by a direct impact to the head or a jerking movement that is enough to cause the brain to hit against the skull internally. On a daily basis, the brain is protected from normal movements or jolts by a protective spinal fluid and the protective shell of the skull. When an impact is more than these measures can protect against, a concussion occurs. It is similar to getting a bruise on your brain.

There is almost always an identifiable incident that is the cause of a concussion. Common examples are car accident injuries, falls, sports injuries, or hitting your head on an everyday surface. Violent shaking is also a possible way to sustain a concussion. You may not always think the initial impact is enough to cause a concussion, but a blow at the right angle can be just enough to create this condition.

Do I Have a Concussion?

Signs and symptoms of a concussion can range from extremely obvious to very subtle and hard to recognize, especially in yourself. One thing that makes them tricky to identify is that, like many car accident injuries, the symptoms of a concussion may not become apparent until hours or days after the inciting event. While the injury occurs on impact, it may not be until after your body has relaxed from the shock and adrenaline of the event that you begin to take note of anything different about yourself. In severe cases, you may lose consciousness for a brief moment at the initial impact, even if there are no other symptoms for some time. Once they appear, symptoms can last for days, weeks, or even longer when untreated.

Signs of a concussion can be physical, cognitive, mental, or behavioral.

Physical signs of a concussion include:

  • Headaches
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue, drowsiness, or lethargy
  • Blurry vision or other visual disturbances
  • Trouble with physical coordination

Cognitive, mental, or behavioral symptoms may include:

  • Confusion, or the feeling of being “in a fog”
  • Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
  • Dizziness and seeing stars
  • Slurred or impacted speech
  • Trouble with memory or concentration
  • Irritability and personality changes
  • Sleep disturbances

You may notice some of these items in yourself, or loved ones may point them out to you.

When to See a Doctor

In any case where your head suffers an injury or blow, treatment should be sought within 1 to 2 days. While it may end up being very mild, it is always important to rule out any more severe brain injuries, like swelling or bleeding, that could potentially become emergencies. Even if you remain alert and normal, going through the proper diagnosis process is the safest bet.

If the original event is accompanied by more serious symptoms, emergency care is extremely important.

Signs that require emergency attention include:

  • A loss of consciousness that lasts for more than 30 seconds
  • Repeated and severe vomiting
  • Fluid or blood draining from the ears or nose
  • Visual disturbances, like abnormally dilated pupils
  • Weakness in the arms or legs
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Obvious mental or physical impairment
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Large bumps or bruises on the head

If you are alert and not in pain, you may be able to monitor concussion symptoms at home, but it is important to have someone else observe you as well to identify things you may not.

Diagnostics

CT scan

If you are suffering from a concussion, your doctor will likely want to confirm their suspicions with various tests such as the CT scan, which will create a composite image of the brain using different angles of cross-sections.

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MRI scan

MRI scans can provide images of the brain using magnetic field technology and radio waves without the use of radiation. They show very detailed visuals of brain injuries like concussions.

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What Happens Without Concussion Treatment?

Without serious symptoms, most people will try to monitor a concussion at home and may never seek treatment from a qualified doctor. In the majority of cases, a concussion will go away with proper rest, avoidance of screens and physical activity, and home remedies for pain. However, mistaking a severe concussion for a mild one can mean the issue worsens over time or even leads to other conditions that may cause more problems in the long run.

Some of these prolonged issues are considered post-traumatic symptoms. Post-traumatic headaches occur when concussion-related headaches occur for more than seven days after a brain injury; post-traumatic vertigo can last up to months, when sufferers experience prolonged bouts of spinning and dizziness. A small number of people also experience post-concussion syndrome, where headaches, dizziness, and cognitive issues persist for longer than three weeks.

It is also possible for brain injuries like concussions to compound. Some research indicates that suffering multiple concussions, even with large gaps between events, can cause cumulative impacts down the line. Experiencing a second injury before the first one has fully healed can also cause second impact syndrome, which can cause fatal issues like brain swelling. For this reason, you should not return to any sports or risky activity while recovering.

Treating a Concussion

The most important part of treating a concussion can be a diagnosis. This is because it allows a doctor to rule out more serious brain injuries and determine the severity of the concussion, which can guide their plan for your treatment. At AICA Atlanta, both neurologists and chiropractors will be able to your symptoms and physical signs to determine if a concussion is the proper diagnosis. This is typically possible through a conversation and some simple tests, like reflexes and balance, though advanced imaging may be used if further information is needed.

Once it has been determined that what you need is concussion treatment, doctors will likely begin with instructions on simple recovery methods. Physical rest, including sleep and naps, may be necessary throughout the day. Physical activities, sports, screen time, and additional medication should usually be avoided. Based on your case, the doctor may have other recommendations to aid recovery as well. You may even be told to avoid things that are mentally strenuous, like work or school, reading, or intense discussions.

In rare, extreme cases, invasive treatment like surgery may become necessary to resolve damage to the skull or brain. If that is the case, orthopedic surgeons and other specialists can be brought in for specialized concussion treatment.

At AICA Atlanta, our team of multidisciplinary specialists is available to diagnose your injury and determine the best course of concussion treatment. No matter the severity of your injury, we have specialists who are able to create the proper path forward for you. Because all of our experts and diagnostic technology are in one location, they can work together to take a holistic approach to your treatment. If you suspect you may have suffered a concussion, or have suffered a blow of any sort, contact AICA Atlanta today to schedule your evaluation.