APEX Brain Centers

Navigating the Road to Recovery: Concussion Treatment Essentials

Navigating the road to recovery following a concussion can be challenging, but at APEX Brain Centers, we are dedicated to helping individuals regain their health and wellness after a brain injury. Concussions and other head injuries can result in a wide range of symptoms, making proper care crucial for effective recovery. With our comprehensive approach, we strive to provide the highest quality care for those affected by concussions and other forms of brain injury.

In our practice at APEX Brain Centers, we focus on providing comprehensive care to address the needs of individuals with brain injuries. Our approach in our Day of Discovery includes an emphasis on proper assessment of your signs and symptoms through a thorough patient history, neurological examination, state-of-the-art diagnostic testing procedures, and laboratory analysis. Services we provide to correct neurological dysfunction and imbalances include functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neurofeedback, balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, frequency-based modalities, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and home care programs to support recovery and promote optimum mental health.

Concussion Recovery Essentials

Understanding the complexities of head injuries and the journey towards recovery is essential for both patients and their support networks. By focusing on our 3 primary areas of admission – brain injury (traumatic and acquired), cognitive impairment, and learning and behavioral disorders (OCD, anxiety, ADHD, addiction, etc.) – we can provide targeted, evidence-based strategies to help our clients regain their health and improve their quality of life.

Understanding Concussions

The Science Behind Concussions

Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth (whiplash). This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, damaging brain cells and pathways, and creating chemical changes in the brain.

Common Causes of Concussions

The most common causes of concussions are falls, motor vehicle accidents, and sports-related injuries. Other causes may include physical altercations, direct blows to the head, blast injuries, and whiplash related events such as those sustained in motor vehicle accidents. While each concussion is unique and individuals experience a wide range of symptoms, it’s important to recognize the signs and seek medical help after any of these types of injuries.

Some common symptoms of a concussion may include headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and sensitivity to light or noise. In more severe cases, individuals may experience a loss of consciousness or have trouble with memory and concentration. Other symptoms, which many may not realize are related to concussion, include gut dysfunction, hormonal dysregulation, and disruptions in mood and mental health. No matter the severity, it’s essential to be cautious and follow a proper recovery plan to avoid complications and ensure the best possible outcome. Active recovery is necessary in all concussion cases, and the outdated  “wait and see” approach will not serve you well.

Seeking professional care and taking a proactive approach in the management of concussions helps to mitigate the risks associated with this type of brain injury. We at APEX Brain Centers are dedicated to delivering effective therapies and interventions for individuals with concussions, tailoring our treatment plans to meet the specific needs of each individual for optimal results.

Recognizing Symptoms

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the importance of recognizing concussion symptoms promptly for effective management and recovery. Concussion symptoms can be classified into physical, cognitive, emotional, and metabolic symptoms. Being aware of these symptoms can help individuals and their support systems provide appropriate care.

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms can vary and may include:

  • Headache: This is one of the most common symptoms of a concussion.
  • Nausea: A feeling of uneasiness or sickness in the stomach, sometimes accompanied by vomiting.
  • Dizziness: A sense of lightheadedness, imbalance, or unsteadiness.
  • Loss of consciousness: Although not all concussions cause a loss of consciousness, it can happen in some cases.
  • Seizures: A rare but possible symptom following a concussion.
  • Vertigo: A sensation of spinning or movement, even when still.
  • Vision/Auditory problems: Double or blurry vision may occur after experiencing a concussion. Also, tinnitus or sound sensitivity may occur.
  • Drowsiness: Feeling excessively tired or fatigued.

Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive symptoms may not be as easily noticeable but are just as important to recognize. These include:

  • Memory problems: Difficulty recalling information or events before or after the injury, or simply in general with day-to-day activities.
  • Confusion: Feeling disoriented or having trouble concentrating.
  • Aphasia: Difficulty with speech or language comprehension.
  • Slowed thought processing: Taking longer to answer questions or perform tasks.
  • Attention/Focus: Inability to stay on task throughout normally routine activities.

Emotional Symptoms

Emotional symptoms can be quite subtle and are sometimes overlooked. They may include:

  • Irritability: Becoming easily frustrated or angry.
  • Mood swings: Rapid changes in emotions or emotional stability.
  • Depression: Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or a loss of interest in activities.
  • Anxiety: Excessive worry or nervousness, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, or shortness of breath.

Metabolic Symptoms

Metabolic/Organic symptoms are often thought unrelated to concussion; although, research shows there are mechanisms at play after these injuries that can result in mild-severe metabolic distress.

  • Gut dysfunction: Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, abdominal pain, inability to digest food appropriately, and more.
  • Fatigue: Often due to impaired energy production and thyroid issues.
  • Menstrual Irregularities: A common side effect – including abdominal pain and irregular/absent menstrual cycles.

In our practice at APEX Brain Centers, we focus on providing comprehensive care to address the needs of individuals with brain injuries. Our approach includes an emphasis on functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and neurofeedback. We also utilize balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, frequency-based modalities, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and home care programs to support recovery and promote optimum mental health.

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The Role of Age and Activity Level

Concussions in Children and Adolescents

Children and adolescents are more susceptible to concussions, especially when engaged in contact sports or high-impact recreational activities. According to the CDC, there has been a 60% increase in emergency room visits for sports and recreation-related concussions among children and adolescents in the last decade. In our practice at APEX Brain Centers, we focus on providing comprehensive care to address the needs of individuals with brain injuries. Early intervention and careful management of concussion symptoms are critical for promoting optimum mental health and recovery in younger populations so that these injuries do not “compound” over time.

Concussions in Adults

Adults can also experience concussions from contact sports, accidents, falls, and other life-related events. It is essential for adults to understand the appropriate steps to take following a concussion, as recovery processes and timelines may differ from those of children and adolescents. As part of our comprehensive care at APEX Brain Centers, we provide adults with the necessary tools, therapies, and support required to achieve a healthy recovery and improved cognitive function.

Impact of Physical Activity on Concussions

Physical activity during the recovery process plays a crucial role in concussion management, especially for those aged 14-25 years. However, it is essential to strike a balance between rest and activity during the initial phase of recovery, as excessive physical exertion can worsen concussion symptoms. A moderated exercise routine, coupled with our foundational neurological and metabolic rehabilitative therapies at APEX Brain Centers, can make the return to normalcy significantly more impactful.

The Importance of Proper Diagnosis

Clinical Examination and Diagnosis

Proper diagnosis of concussions is crucial in order to manage symptoms and facilitate a safe, effective recovery process. The first step in the diagnosis process is a thorough clinical examination, which typically involves a detailed interview to gather information about the injury, including its cause, any past medical history, and the presence of any current symptoms.

During the clinical examination, we also perform a comprehensive neurological exam to assess cognitive, sensory, and motor function. This may include testing for balance, coordination, strength, reflexes, sensation, eye movements, electrical brain activity (EEG), memory, and more. These tests help us identify any potential issues and allow us to tailor our recovery strategies to address the specific needs of each individual.

The Role of Healthcare Providers

At APEX Brain Centers, our team of healthcare providers plays a vital role in the diagnosis and management of concussions. Our multidisciplinary approach ensures that individuals receive the most comprehensive care possible throughout their recovery journey.

Our healthcare providers work closely with each other, and other providers a patient works with, to develop a cohesive plan that includes functional neurology strategies, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and neurofeedback. Additionally, we incorporate balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, frequency-based modalities, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and home care programs to support recovery and promote optimum mental health. We will also coordinate care strategies with existing healthcare providers our patients are working with.

By accurately diagnosing concussions and collaborating closely with our team of experts, we are able to provide the best possible care for individuals on their road to recovery.

Effective Treatment Strategies

Rest and Recovery

One of the most crucial steps in treating concussions is to ensure proper rest and recovery. In the initial days following a concussion, individuals should alter physical and cognitive activities to prevent worsening symptoms. This approach helps the brain to heal and reduces the risk of further injury1.

Managing Symptoms

We focus on providing comprehensive care to address the needs of individuals with brain injuries. In our approach, we consider managing symptoms initially to be an essential aspect of effective treatment plans. Pain relief can be achieved with over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, as well as specific nutritional supplements and changes in activities of daily living. It is crucial to ensure the proper dose and follow a doctor’s recommendations to avoid potential complications2.

Patients should also be closely monitored for any worsening symptoms or signs of complications, such as severe headaches or repeated vomiting. In such cases, brain imaging may be recommended to determine if the injury has caused bleeding or swelling in the skull3.

Rehabilitation and Exercise

In our practice at APEX Brain Centers, we focus on providing comprehensive care to address the needs of individuals with brain injuries. Our approach includes an emphasis on functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and neurofeedback.

We also utilize balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, frequency-based modalities, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and home care programs to support recovery and promote optimum mental health. With the growing evidence supporting the early introduction of physical activity, we encourage our patients to engage in slow, controlled exercises, such as walking or riding a stationary bike, as long as it remains below their symptom threshold4. This method of rehabilitation supports the healing process and helps individuals achieve their recovery goals.

The Emotional Impact of Concussions

Dealing with Depression and Anxiety

Concussions can result in a variety of emotional symptoms, including irritability, depression, and anxiety. These feelings can be challenging to manage and may impact an individual’s daily life, relationships, and overall well-being. Addressing these emotional symptoms is essential, and in our practice at APEX Brain Centers, we focus on providing comprehensive care to address the needs of individuals with brain injuries. Our experience for the past 2 decades is that mental health services become significantly more impactful when combined with functional neurology assessments and interventions.

Support from Family and Loved Ones

The support of family members and loved ones plays an integral role in the recovery process for those dealing with concussions. Individuals may require assistance in various aspects of their lives, from managing day-to-day tasks to attending medical appointments. Ensuring that loved ones understand the symptoms, challenges, and emotions associated with concussions can help create a supportive, compassionate, and effective recovery environment.

We encourage open communication between individuals and their support networks, and we can help with that education, as it is crucial for maintaining strong connections and fostering emotional well-being. By working together and sharing the responsibility of recovery, families and support systems can help individuals overcome the emotional impact of concussions and forge a path toward healing.

Navigating Life After a Concussion

Returning to Normal Activities

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand that recovering from a concussion can be a challenging process. Our primary focus is on helping individuals regain their neurological balance, memory, and concentration after experiencing head trauma. In order to facilitate recovery, it is important to gradually return to normal activities. However, the pace of this process should be closely monitored to prevent any setbacks.

One recommendation for a successful recovery is to break down tasks into smaller steps, allowing for easier management and completion. Adequate rest, along with proper sleep and a well-balanced diet, plays a critical role in regaining mental and physical stamina. Furthermore, incorporating balance and vestibular therapies along with carefully prescribed eye movement exercises can significantly improve dizziness, balance, and visual  issues commonly experienced post-concussion.

Preventing Future Concussions

Protecting yourself and your loved ones from future concussions is a top priority. While accidents are sometimes unavoidable, there are numerous precautionary measures that can be taken:

  • Wear Protective Gear: Ensure that you are wearing suitable head protection, such as helmets, during sports or other potentially risky activities.
  • Follow Safety Rules: Abide by sport and recreational safety guidelines to reduce the likelihood of accidents.
  • Create a Safe Environment: Eliminate potential hazards in your living space that could cause falls or head injuries.
  • Drive Safely and Defensively: Put your phone away, keep your eyes on the road and on the motorists around you, and drive appropriately for the road conditions.

In our practice at APEX Brain Centers, we focus on providing comprehensive care to address the needs of individuals with brain injuries. Our approach includes an emphasis on functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and neurofeedback. These techniques help expedite concussion recovery and provide a solid foundation for physical and mental health. Additionally, we also utilize eye movement rehabilitation, frequency-based modalities, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and home care programs to support recovery and promote optimum mental health. By emphasizing a well-rounded and individualized approach, we strive to provide those recovering from concussions with the tools they need to re-establish a healthy, balanced life.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_recovery.html
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/concussion/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355600
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5119544/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6140182/

Dr. Michael S. Trayford is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and Neurofeedback Specialist with over 20 years of experience in the practice of advanced functional neurology. He is one of the most highly sought-after brain rehabilitation specialists because of the life-changing outcomes his patients consistently experience. After over a decade in private practice and working alongside other pioneers in the field, Dr. Trayford developed his multimodal intensive brain training and rehabilitation program built around the science of Neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to learn and grow dependent upon the stimulation it receives from its environment. He later founded APEX Brain Centers to combine his ground-breaking rehabilitation approach with a unique patient and caretaker-centered care model. Under Dr. Trayford’s leadership, APEX Brain Centers has successfully treated thousands of patients and earned the reputation of a world-renowned brain training and rehabilitation practice. Since its inception, Dr. Trayford has been a leader of the Brain Training revolution treating patients worldwide. In addition, he is a published journal contributor and international lecturer. His experience with various patients of all ages and neurological conditions has given him a unique perspective on brain health and human performance. He is also well-versed in collaborating with other health care professionals, making him an invaluable asset to any care team. Dr. Trayford was awarded the Functional Neurologist of the Year distinction by the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation, where he is a proud member and conference lecturer. Currently, he serves on the Advisory Council for the Dementia Society of America and the Board of Directors for the International Society for Neuroregulation and Research. He is also a servant leader who has dedicated his adult life to serving multiple communities through Rotary International and other notable causes. When he’s not treating patients, Dr. Trayford usually reads or researches anything related to the brain, human performance, and leadership. He also loves spending time outdoors with his wife Denise, their two daughters, and dogs in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. https://www.linkedin.com/in/drmichaeltrayford/

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