APEX Brain Centers

The Silent Injury: Concussions Uncovered and Their True Impact

As a leading provider of brain injury care, at APEX Brain Centers we understand the serious effects of concussions and the imperative need for proper management. Concussions, which are considered a mild form of traumatic brain injury, occur when the brain is jarred within the skull as a result of sudden impacts or forces, often caused by sports accidents, falls, or vehicle collisions. Make no mistake, these injuries are often never mild, and their classification as such can be misleading and lead to unnecessary suffering for countless individuals each year. The invisible nature of these head traumas and their potential long-term consequences make it crucial to raise awareness about this silent 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 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.

Through our expert knowledge and years of experience, we aim to dispel common misconceptions surrounding concussions. Awareness and understanding of the varied symptoms, proper prevention strategies, and rehabilitative efforts are crucial for individuals, their families, and the broader community in order to better recognize and address the reality of concussions.

Understanding Concussions and Their Effects

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that can result from a blow to the head, a jolt, or rapid acceleration and deceleration (whiplash), which causes the brain to move inside the skull. At APEX Brain Centers, we focus on providing comprehensive care to address the needs of individuals with brain injuries, including concussions.

The effects of a concussion can have a significant impact on an individual’s brain function, causing issues with memory, coordination, and balance. Often referred to as the “invisible injury,” concussions can be challenging to diagnose, making it essential for individuals to understand the signs and symptoms.

When a concussion occurs, the brain can undergo several changes, such as temporary interruptions in neural network communication. This can result in an array of symptoms that may not always be easily recognized, including headaches, dizziness, and nausea.

The primary means of helping with concussion recovery are 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.

In conclusion, concussions are a complex and often misunderstood type of brain injury that requires proper care and attention. At APEX Brain Centers, we strive to provide the most effective and comprehensive care for those affected by concussions to ensure the best possible outcomes for recovery.

Causes and Risk Factors

Concussions, also known as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), occur when the brain moves inside the skull due to sudden impacts or forces. At APEX, we recognize that concussions are a significant issue, especially among athletes, children, and those participating in certain sports activities.

The primary cause of concussions is direct or indirect external trauma to the head, which can result in shear stress to brain tissue from rotational or angular forces. Falls are a leading cause of concussion, and they’re particularly dangerous for children. As children grow and develop, they’re more susceptible to falls and related injuries. Additionally, individuals who play contact sports like football and soccer are also at a higher risk of sustaining a concussion.

An important risk factor for concussions is participation in sports activities. As athletes push themselves to perform better, or have lower skill levels, they may inadvertently expose themselves to higher risks of injury. It’s crucial for those involved in sports to be aware of the risks, take appropriate precautions, and seek prompt assessment and management if a concussion is suspected.

Prevention strategies to reduce the risk of concussion include wearing appropriate protective gear, such as helmets, during sports activities. Additionally, proper training and teaching of safe techniques, along with the enforcement of sports rules, can help minimize injury risk. Educating athletes, coaches, parents, and others about concussion symptoms, risks, and management strategies can also play a significant role in contributing to safer sports environments and promoting brain health.

Symptoms and Signs

At APEX Brain Centers, we often encounter clients experiencing symptoms of concussions. These symptoms can manifest in various ways, making it essential to recognize the common signs. Some of the most prevalent symptoms our clients report are headaches, nausea, and confusion. Dizziness is also common, as are memory and speech difficulties, and visual distress. Some might experience difficulty with balance, leading to an increased risk of falls and further injury.

Many individuals with concussions experience physical signs such as vomiting, ringing in the ears, and even loss of consciousness. Fatigue and drowsiness can impair one’s ability to function normally in daily life. Concentration can become a significant challenge, with some clients seeing stars, slurred speech, and disorientation.

There are other symptoms one might encounter, such as double vision or sleep disturbances. The wide range of symptoms can make it difficult to identify a concussion without a proper assessment.

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Diagnostic Evaluation

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the importance of accurately diagnosing and evaluating concussions to ensure the best possible care for our patients. Our diagnostic evaluation process includes a variety of assessment methods to help us determine the severity and extent of a concussion.

Monitoring pupil size and eye movements through video oculography (VOG) is another important aspect of our diagnostic evaluation. Changes in pupil size and reactivity of eye movements can indicate the presence of a concussion, as well as potential underlying brain trauma. This valuable assessment can provide critical information about the severity of a concussion and help guide our approach to care.

In some cases, we may recommend advanced imaging techniques such as CT scans or MRIs to obtain a more detailed view of the brain. These imaging tests can help identify structural damage or more severe forms of traumatic brain injury that could be contributing to a patient’s symptoms.

Our comprehensive approach to concussion diagnosis and evaluation allows us to gain a better understanding of each patient’s unique condition, helping us develop a tailor-made brain rehabilitation plan that incorporates functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neurofeedback, and other research-supported therapies. By focusing on these core components, we aim to provide the most effective care to promote recovery and improve the overall quality of life for our patients.

Management and Treatment

When it comes to managing and treating concussions, our initial focus is on proper rest and monitoring the symptoms. It is essential for individuals to avoid activities that may provoke symptoms and delay their recovery; while understanding that movement and light exposure to sensory stimuli will aid in recovery (active recovery). Rest includes both physical and cognitive rest, giving the brain time to heal and recover from the injury.

During this period, we closely monitor patients to ensure they are progressing as expected. In many cases, additional therapeutic interventions are often necessary to help with the recovery process. At APEX Brain Centers, our expert care is centered around a comprehensive approach that addresses the needs of individuals with brain injuries.

As the patient starts to show improvement in symptoms, we will gradually reintroduce activity levels and monitor for any recurrence of symptoms. This careful reintroduction, known as the return-to-play process in sports, ensures that the patient can safely resume activities without causing further harm to the brain. It’s essential to follow these guidelines and not rush the process, as doing so could lead to more severe and long-lasting issues.

In conclusion, managing and treating concussions involves a multi-faceted approach that combines rest, monitoring, and comprehensive therapeutic interventions to help individuals recover and return to a full and active life. By working closely with patients and employing a wide range of treatment options, we at APEX Brain Centers are committed to helping those affected by this silent injury regain their health and well-being.

Prevention and Safety Measures

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the importance of preventing concussions and implementing proper safety measures. It is essential for parents, coaches, and trainers to be well-informed about concussion prevention strategies and protocols to reduce the risk of brain injuries in sports and other activities.

One of the most critical aspects of prevention is the use of appropriate protective gear. This includes helmets, mouth guards, and any other equipment designed to provide a barrier between athletes and potential impact forces. Encouraging athletes to use high-quality, well-fitted gear can significantly reduce the likelihood of sustaining a concussion.

Education is another key component of concussion prevention. We recommend that coaches, trainers, and athletes participate in programs that provide information on concussion signs, symptoms, and management. This can help raise awareness of the risks and ensure everyone knows how to respond appropriately if a concussion occurs.

Adhering to proper concussion protocols is crucial for ensuring the safety of athletes. This entails evaluating athletes who may have sustained a concussion, providing necessary medical attention, and implementing appropriate return-to-play guidelines.

In conclusion, concussion prevention is a shared responsibility among athletes, parents, coaches, and trainers. By actively promoting safety measures and adhering to proper protocols, we can help reduce the occurrence and severity of concussions, enabling individuals to continue participating in sports and activities while minimizing potential risks.

Concussion in Popular Sports

Concussions have long been a significant concern in popular sports. In recent years, the spotlight has been on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease often found in athletes who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. This condition has been widely reported in relation to the National Football League (NFL) and its players.

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the critical nature of addressing concussion-related injuries in popular sports. Our focus on providing comprehensive care aims to support individuals with brain injuries, including those sustained in sports like football, soccer, rugby, and ice hockey.

In popular sports, the risk of concussion is especially high due to the frequency of high-impact collisions. For example, it is estimated that 1.6 to 3.8 million sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occur every year, with many mild TBI cases never seeking medical attention (source). As we recognize the increasing incidence of sport-related concussions (SRC) in recent decades, efforts must be made to sustainably reduce this risk for athletes around the world.

Implementing effective prevention strategies is one method to decrease concussion incidences in popular sports. Ideas include better education for athletes, coaches, and medical professionals, enforcing rule changes to minimize head contact, and introducing new protective gear that can reduce force absorption.

Our experience for the past 2 decades demonstrates that mental health services become significantly more impactful when combined with functional neurology assessments and interventions. Through this integrated approach, we aim to provide specialized support to address the unique cognitive and emotional challenges faced by athletes suffering from concussions or repeated head injuries.

Long-Term Effects and Research

At APEX Brain Centers, we are dedicated to understanding the complex, long-term effects of concussions on memory, brain and body function, and mental health – including anxiety, depression, and the impacts of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Research indicates that repetitive concussions can have severe consequences for cognitive decline and neurobehavioral changes1. Even seemingly mild concussions can have serious, long-lasting effects – including an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease and dementia2.

Through our work, we have observed that individuals with a history of three or more concussions are at higher risk for developing long-term cognitive problems3. This serves as a critical motivator for us to provide comprehensive care that addresses the needs of individuals suffering from brain injuries. 

We aim to enhance the effectiveness of mental health services by incorporating functional neurology assessments and interventions into our approach. This has resulted in positive outcomes for clients over the past two decades.

We are committed to staying updated on the latest research in the field of traumatic brain injury (TBI), cognitive impairment, and learning and behavioral disorders, such as OCD, anxiety, ADHD, and addiction. By doing so, our primary goal remains focused on helping individuals with brain injuries achieve the best possible outcomes for their health and well-being.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5384827/
  2. https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2018/10/412006/dangers-everyday-concussions-revealed-scientists-race-find-solutions
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2023/jan/31/three-or-more-concussions-add-up-to-long-term-cognitive-problems-study-suggests

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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