TBI and Concussion

TBI and The Most Common Type of TBI: Concussion

According to the Center for Disease Control, a traumatic brain injury is brain damage caused by a bump, blow, jolt, or other trauma to the head. Not all bumps to the head result in Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI concussions); however, if you have injured your head and experienced any changes in your normal behavior, it is highly likely that you have experienced a traumatic brain injury.

Traumatic Brain Injuries are classified by type and severity. There are two main types of Traumatic Brain Injuries: Closed and Penetrating. Most Traumatic Brain Injuries are closed head injuries caused by a blunt force that does not break through the skull. Penetrating Traumatic Brain Injuries involve injuries that pierce through the skull and damage the brain directly, but these injuries are much less common. Traumatic Brain Injuries are also classified by symptom severity, ranging from mild to severe. Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries may include short-term changes in mental status or consciousness, while severe Traumatic Brain Injuries may include extended periods of unconsciousness or memory loss. The Glasgow Coma Scale is often used to assess whether a Traumatic Brain Injury is mild, moderate, or severe.

MRI Scan Report
Human brain model on doctor hand. Neurologist demonstrating brain MRI on computer monitor.

The Mayo Clinic also recommends using the following questions when assessing the severity of a Traumatic Brain Injury:

How did the injury occur?
Did the person lose consciousness?
How long was the person unconscious?
Were there any changes in alertness, speaking, or coordination following the head trauma?
Where was the head or other parts of the body struck?
How forceful was the injury? For example, what hit the person’s head, how far did they fall, or were they thrown from a vehicle?
Was the person’s body whipped around or severely jarred?
The answers to these questions, in combination with imaging tests and scores on the Glasgow Coma Scale, inform a doctor’s assessment as to whether the Traumatic Brain Injury is mild, moderate, or severe.

Concussions are the most common type of TBI. The medical field has defined concussion in a number of ways. A recent review of the concussion literature indicates that a concussion refers to changes in brain function that follow a force to the head, which may or may not be accompanied by a temporary loss of consciousness. Additionally, these symptoms must be diagnosed in awake individuals by measuring their neurologic and cognitive functioning (Carney et al., 2014). The CDC expands on this definition, explaining that concussions can be a result of either direct blows to the head or by situations where someone’s brain moves quickly back and forth (i.e., whiplash), such as during a fall or car accident.

Because concussions are typically not life-threatening, they are usually classified as “mild” forms of Traumatic Brain Injury. While not life-threatening, concussions can affect a person’s ability to think, engage in physical activity, manage emotions, and sleep.

Brain MRI Report

The Anatomy of a Traumatic Brain Injury

When experiencing a traumatic brain injury (TBI), a person suffers damage to their cranial structure. The cranial structure of the brain is made up of bones, fluids, and other elements designed to protect the brain. When the cranial structure is functioning properly, the movement of the cranial bones helps to pump cerebrospinal fluid throughout the brain and spinal cord. The glymphatic system removes metabolic waste products, such as tau proteins and beta-amyloid proteins, from the cerebrospinal fluid.

Traumatic Brain Injuries (i.e., concussions, whiplash, or overexposure to toxic substances) disrupt the movement of the cranial bone, which in turn inhibits glymphatic system function. Without optimal glymphatic system function, metabolic waste products remain in the central nervous system and slowly begin to deteriorate brain tissue.

More specifically, Traumatic Brain Injuries cause cranial faults in the skull. Three specific cranial faults directly result from traumatic brain injury and concussion:

  • Inferior lesser wings of the Sphenoid
  • Sphenobasilar Faults
  • Abnormal movement of the greater wings of the Sphenoid

These three cranial faults cause many of the symptoms resulting from a concussion, such as eye-tracking problems, headaches, short-term memory issues, inhibited left-brain function, and overstimulated right brain function.

When these cranial faults are never addressed, they can manifest into Cranial Injury Complex (CIC). CIC can cause a variety of weakened brain functions, including eye-tracking and short-term memory deficits. Specifically, CIC impacts the cognitive functions of the brain’s left hemisphere and the emotion regulation processes of the brain’s right hemisphere. As such, people with CIC commonly struggle with school and/or work because of emotional instability, depression, fatigue, concentration difficulties, and memory problems.

At Simkovich Concussion Institute, we utilize Cranial Movement Therapy to restore normal cranial bone movement. In doing so, we correct the cranial faults associated with TBI and concussion, as well as stabilize the functionality of the glymphatic system within the brain, so it can begin to heal properly. Because we address the TBI at its source, our patients see a decrease in their injury-related symptoms, which allows them to start regaining their pre-injury quality of life.

4 Categories of Concussion Symptoms

After suffering a head injury, a person can experience a wide range of difficulties such as: cognitive decline and difficulty thinking and remembering, physical deficits and migraines, emotional health and changes in emotion and mood, and sleep disturbances and disorders.
For some, these symptoms can last a short period of time. For others, though, TBI and concussion symptoms can last weeks, months, or even years, and unfortunately for some, chronic life long symptoms become their new way of life.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention identifies four categories of concussion symptoms: (1) cognitive deficits in thinking/remembering, (2) physical deficits, (3) changes in emotion/mood, and (4) sleep disturbances.

Cognitive Concussion Symptoms

When suffering a TBI or concussion, it is common for people to experience difficulties with their ability to think clearly. These symptoms include feeling foggy or slowed down, poor concentration or inability to focus, and difficulties remembering new information. Because of these difficulties, those who have suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury often have problems with reading that can impact their work and school performance.

icon---closed-head-injury-640w

Physical Concussion Symptoms

After a bump to the head, it is common for people to experience a headache, dizziness, blurry vision, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to noise or lights, and balance problems immediately following their injury. Unfortunately, many of these symptoms can get worse over time, resulting in migraines, fatigue, and poor hand-eye coordination. This decrease in hand-eye coordination can be especially difficult for the injured athlete who wants to return to their pre-injury level of ability.

Emotional Concussion Symptoms

Most people do not realize that TBI and concussion can impact a person’s mental health. Often, people recovering from TBI experience extreme mood swings, depression, anxiety, or irritability and frustration that result in angry outbursts toward family, friends, or co-workers. These symptoms occur in people with and without a history of mental health problems. This means that people who have never experienced mental health problems prior to a concussion may have difficulties with mental health following their head injury.

04

Sleep-Related Concussion Symptoms

One of the biggest ways that TBI and concussion can disrupt a person’s life is through sleep-related symptoms. Some people experiencing a TBI or concussion may start sleeping too much, while others begin to sleep too little. Still, others experience restlessness or difficulty falling asleep. No matter which of these sleep-related concussion symptoms a person has, too much or too little sleep can keep a person from returning to their pre-injury work, school, and social routines.

Because these symptoms can be mild, people will sometimes underestimate the possibility that they may be dealing with a TBI or concussion. These people may experience a bump on the head and choose to “push through” symptoms, thinking they will feel better in time. Often, it may take several minutes, hours, or days for TBI or concussion symptoms to surface. Indeed, this delay in symptoms has been the driving force behind limiting same-day return-to-play for athletes experiencing blows to the head as a part of their sport.

If you have hit your head and experience any of the signs or symptoms listed above, contact us today for an examination and assessment.

Bob-Cieslinski-150x150

“I suffered a concussion a couple of years ago from a student who hit me in the head with a bass drum mallet. I had memory issues and constant dizziness along with pressure and fullness in the head. I saw Dr. Simkovich and I am amazed at how awesome I feel after just a week of treatments. He really cares about his patients and their well-being. The whole staff is very friendly and I plan on telling everyone I know this is the place to go for treatment. I was having balance, memory, and focus issues after I suffered a concussion. I feel like a new person now after Dr. Simkovich’s concussion therapy. I can remember things now and I am back to being a musician again. He changed my life.”

Bob Cieslinksi

Leechburg, PA