There are several myths surrounding concussions, including the following …
Myth: A concussion is a bruising of the brain.
It is now believed that stretching of the brain cells is the primary mechanism that causes a concussion. Each cell contains a long pathway, called an axon, that extends out and allows one brain cell to connect to another. Think of it as a long arm reaching out to grab another cell. When the axons undergo enough stretching, a concussion occurs. The brain may still experience bruising (cerebral contusion), however this is no longer the dominant theory behind what leads to a concussion.
Myth: You should not exercise with a concussion.
Exercise is a key therapy for improving both concussion and post-concussion syndrome. When choosing a routine, it is important to start with the appropriate exercises and follow a gradual routine. Beginning with ‘jumping jacks’ would not be ideal. This would bounce your brain within your skull, which would likely make you feel worse. Starting with stationary biking or treadmill walking would be more appropriate than trying to run, jog, or jump. Monitoring your heart rate is a vital component in both concussion and post-concussion syndrome rehabilitation. Appropriate rehab programs control how high your heart rate goes to avoid the onset of unwanted symptoms. Your exercise intensity can increase as you become better at handling rises in heart rate.
Myth: You have recovered once concussion symptoms have gone away.
This is wrong. Symptom recovery does not match physiological recovery. In other words, just because symptoms have disappeared, it does not mean that you have recovered from your concussion. On average, symptoms resolve by 10 to 14 days, while recovering from a concussion can last anywhere from 22 to 45 days.
Myth: ‘I can return to sport once my symptoms have gone away’
Concussion management has grown over recent years. The recovery process differs greatly from when parents and coaches took part in sport. Gone are the days of sitting out for one play before returning to action. There are specific guidelines that must be followed before returning to sport. The Buffalo Concussion Treadmill Test and Blackhawks Physical Exertion Test are advancements in concussion management that allow for objective testing to determine when an athlete can return to practices and games.
Myth: ‘I have had symptoms for years, I cannot recover’
While it is more difficult to recover from a concussion the longer you have had symptoms, it is not impossible. This is especially true if you have not undergone treatment. Many avenues can be explored. Persistent symptoms are often improved with proper care and management. The first step is finding the right health care professional with the right training that understands your needs.
It can be challenging to maintain a positive outlook after suffering a concussion. A major factor in your recovery is the desire to want to improve. If you are interested in having your concussion assessed and treated, visit www.profunction.ca to book an appointment with our concussion management practitioners.
Submitted by Pro Function Sports Injury Clinic