The brain is often compared to a bowl of jelly - firm jelly. It can usually survive some mild knocking around, thanks to the cerebrospinal fluid; a layer of shock-absorbing liquid between the skull and the brain. That in mind, there are two reasons you may suffer from a concussion:
- The brain hits the skull in a forceful way, such as being tackled in a football game.
- The neural tissue strains from excessive force, often indirectly such as whiplash in a car accident.
Symptoms of a concussion may be mild, including headache or nausea. More severe symptoms such as poor memory or concentration, fatigue, mood changes, blurred vision and more could also be experienced. It’s important to note, approximately 85% of concussions don’t result in a loss of consciousness. The common belief that concussions only happen when a person is knocked out can be dangerous, as people don’t seek treatment when it’s needed. Additionally symptoms of a concussion may take several days to appear.
THE ROAD TO RECOVERY
You can expect to need 7-10 days of rest. Resting is very important, not getting enough will likely extend your recovery period. Post-concussion Syndrome is also possible, causing symptoms to last months, even years.
SPEEDING UP RECOVERY
Once your doctor has determined how severe your concussion is, he or she will have specific instructions for healing - including rest. There are a few other things you can do during the resting period that will help speed recovery.
- Reduce your screen time: The bright lights cause eye strain which will enhance your symptoms, especially headaches.
- Avoid unnecessary movement: Your neck and head need to remain as still as possible, especially for the first week. Walking, even sitting in a moving vehicle will cause a bit of movement. These motions mimic what caused the concussion, and prevent your brain from recovering.
- Limit loud sounds: You’ll probably find you’re a bit more sensitive to loud noises, especially immediately following the accident. Keeping the radio and tv on low will help reduce the sensitivities.
- Drink water: Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do to speed up your recovery. More and more evidence is showing that dehydration increases the risk of a concussion in the first place, and slows the recovery process too.
- Eat more protein: Branched-chain amino acids, found in meats, fish, beans, and nuts help improve the cognitive symptoms from a concussion such as poor balance or inability to concentrate.
- Increase your omega-3s: It’s been proven that these fatty acids improve cognition and the recovery of neurons. Taking a supplement, or eating fatty fish, flax seeds, and soy will help.
While these tips promote healing after a concussion, the most important thing you need to do is follow your doctor's orders. Every brain and every accident are different. Pay extra attention to your body during this time, and new or worsening symptoms should be brought up immediately.
GETTING BACK TO NORMAL
Once your doctor has given the permission to resume your regular activities, remember that you need to ease into it. Start with a little and if it feels okay then take a break and do a bit more. If your concussion symptoms return, or worsen, then you’re pushing yourself too hard. Use energy conservation techniques and rest often. Listening to your body and communicating with your doctor is the most important thing to do during this time.