3 Things You Need to Know if You Have a Concussion

by: Dr. Fiona Lovely

Concussions can happen anytime to anyone. We are learning quickly just how far reaching the effects of a mild traumatic brain injury can be. Unfortunately, they can last way beyond the original injury. There is much you can do when you have a recent concussion and getting this info into play in a timely fashion can go far into resolving the symptoms of a concussion.

There are three things you should know if you have a concussion. Here is that critical info for you:

1. Rest is the most important factor in whether your symptoms last a week or 6 months or more. Get serious about rest during this time! Take a week off of work, school and all recreational activities. Yes, I’m serious! Your brain needs this rest. But please don’t fill up your time with screen time - smart phone, tablet, laptop or TV. The bright lights, loud sounds and rapidly moving graphics on a screen are deadly to your brain at this sensitive time. Listen to quiet music, a podcast, read a paper book or magazine in natural lighting, play a board game or cards. Yes, this sounds boring but lots of us grew up without devices and turned out just fine! Embrace the quiet. Sleep as much as you want to. Give yourself permission to rest.

Just to hit this point home a bit more - taking time off now will absolutely make the difference in whether this injury continues to make you miserable for months (or years even) or for a week. Rest like your life depends on it, because the quality of your life after concussion, does.

2. Food is the second critical piece to getting yourself back to your life after a concussion. First - eat like an athlete. Lots of protein and healthy fats. Eliminate processed foods and sugar. Eat smaller more frequent meals - nuts, free range eggs, avocado, natural raised meats, veggies and fruit taking extra care to include fatty fish like salmon, tuna, etc. Brain foods!

Drink plenty of water - 2-3 litres daily if you are an adult, half of your body weight in ounces if you are uncertain exactly how much. No sugary drinks. Milk is intended by Mother Nature to fatten up a calf and any health benefits from it are mollified by the pasteurization process. Please don’t fool yourself into thinking that drinking milk is healthy. Drink water.

There are 3 supplements I recommend for everyone with a traumatic brain injury - omega fats, vitamin D and probiotics. Omega fats rebuild the structure of the brain (along with the fish, avocado, nuts and coconut oil you are eating). Vitamin D acts to help the brain structure clean up the cellular debris from the physical injury. Liquid vitamin D is the only one worth spending money on. Finally, probiotics. These are the healthy bugs that reside in our gut and make up a big portion of our immune system and contribute massively to our overall health. Turns out there is constant communication from these bugs in our gut via the Vagus nerve to the brain. Let these bugs be the healthy ones (not just the pathological bugs we pick up along the way without proper probiotic innoculation.)

Now, if you have managed to do a good job of 1 & 2, you won’t need number 3. If your symptoms persist beyond a week or two, refer to number 3:

3. Rehab for a concussion is sometimes the only way to feeling well again. If you have applied rest and good food principles and you still don’t feel well, you may require some help getting your brain firing on all cylinders again. Functional Neurology, often called Chiropractic Neurology can help. After completing a thorough assessment of your specific brain function, we can create a rehab plan specifically for your brain and it’s needs. Using adjustments, movement and the 5 senses, we can re-wire the parts of your brain that are broken. It’s called neuroplasticity and basically it means that the neurons that fire together, wire together. Reinforcements of these connections over time mean you get your brain back to normal!

Neuro rehab is fun and will teach you a great deal about how your brain functions and how it can function optimally. There are few in the country who are trained properly to assess and rehab your brain functionally after injury. If you have questions about a concussion please reach out to me: drlovely@calgarybrainandspine.com. I am proud to be a part of the wellness team at Active Sports Therapy!