Hi and welcome to part 2 of the Head Injury and Concussion Blog. If this is the first you have read my blog, please review Part 1 where I gave a brief explanation of the ongoing physical repercussions to the whole body after a head injury.
Part 2 will look at the impact to the brain and the ongoing neurological emotional issues that can result.
When the brain strikes the skull, damage to the brain itself can occur. Not only at the site of impact but also between the different types of brain matter. Grey matter and white matter.
These two types of matter have a different density. When struck at just the right angle and speed a sheering effect can occur between these two types of brain matter, causing further damage.
There is a further complication with a blow to the head.
If the blow is hard enough it can result in the victim being rendered unconscious.
Blows to the head can induce a form of nervous system overload, causing you to lose consciousness.
Loss of consciousness can also be caused by a change in blood flow to the brain. A reflex area in the brain regulates the flow of blood and oxygen to the head, a knock to the jaw can jolt this reflex. This lightning fast altering of the blood and oxygen flow can be enough to cause a blackout.
Suffering repeated blows to the head, it is possible to lose brain volume as white matter dies.
Personality changes and dementia are some of the risks contact sport athletes face.
In addition to this when you are unconscious it is only your conscious mind that is knocked out. The other part of the mind – the Subconscious - is wide awake and recording everything, without the normal filtering process of the conscious mind. Why is this important to know?
When you are conscious your conscious mind is your analytical, logical, rational mind. It analyses information coming in and forms logical conclusions based on that information. When you are unconscious this ability is offline.
As an example, if you were playing football and an opposing player intentionally poleaxes one of your team members, you hear another team member scream out, “you idiot!” You can hear and see and deduce that the insult is aimed at the offending player on the other team. Five minutes later that opposing player does the same thing to you. You are now out cold. Your team member screams out again, “You idiot!” and a few other expletives. This time however, your ability to analyse where the insult came from and who it was directed at is offline. The information just gets recorded by your subconscious mind. i.e. you are an idiot.
You come to a few minutes later, feeling confused, and for some reason you feel really stupid for letting yourself get knocked out. Information comes into the mind but does not get categorised correctly. The meaning of it can get dramatically confused by your own mind which can lead to all sorts of issues later on. (Please note when you are naturally asleep you are not unconscious. Sleep and being unconscious are two vastly different states)
As an aside: this is one of the reasons Hypnosis is possible. The basic starting point is to distract the conscious (the criticising part) part of the mind, to gain access to the recordings in the subconscious.
Once awake and conscious you will likely suffer from the following symptoms:
double or blurry vision
sensitivity to light and noise
fatigue or drowsiness
changes in sleep patterns
trouble comprehending and/or concentrating
irritability, nervousness, or sadness
feelings of being "just not right" or in a "fog"
These are the symptoms of a concussion!
Symptoms can occur within minutes or hours of the incident. Some of these symptoms can last for many years.
So now that you understand this, what does this mean for the person going forward?
The brain smashes around inside the skull
Damage to the brain occurs
White matter and grey matter sheer apart
Nervous system overload.
Changes to blood flow occur
You suffer a concussion or are knocked unconscious
The subconscious brain continues recording unfiltered information
Now go back and have look at the first list of original symptoms. Is it any wonder that these occur?
These symptoms can last for many years. Studies have shown the cognitive effects of concussion can still be measured 30 years later.
One study on teenage concussions points to the risk of MS in later years
In some cases personality can change quite considerably, resulting in out of character behavior such as mood swings, apathy, depression, foggy thinking, confusion, loss of balance, and physical coordination. For some people this will settle down and life returns to normal, for others it is a whole different ball game. The symptoms can persist over years and the person is never truly themselves. These people can develop personality or emotional problems and sometimes turn to substance abuse to cope.
How do we cope with this?
First and foremost, medical intervention and first aid.
After the initial recovery there is still significant help that can be provided to minimise the risk of the ongoing symptoms of a head injury and assist with a fuller recovery.
In my clinic I work with head injury victims. There is a tremendous amount of beneficial work that can be done that can release the neurological reflexes that hold the body in the compensated state. i.e. the muscle imbalance of overly strong and weak muscles. This alone can prevent years of insidious physical side effect.
In addition to this, using emotional and energetic balancing techniques can help release the anxiety and emotional stress caused by the concussion, and also help re-energise the pathways in the brain for better recovery.
Typically my clients have reported a remission of physical pain, becoming clear headed, emotionally much more stable and being able to function more effectively again at school, in their jobs and at home.
My name is Martin Carson. I am a Professional Kinesiologist with more than 10 years experience. I am passionate about helping people recover from these injuries.
If you have suffered a blow to the head or are a parent of a child involved in contact sports and you are concerned about ongoing effects, then please contact me for more information.