3 Myths About Head Injuries
In January 2019 I was rear-ended on the way to work. I have gained first-hand knowledge on how a collision can change your life. I have always told my patients after a collision, they have a part-time job taking care of themselves. I have now learned, it is another full-time job. From the moment I was hit, my brain felt scrambled, I knew it wasn’t right but I didn’t recognize I had a brain injury. I had people I knew and trusted saying; of course, you don’t feel right, you were just in an accident. One would assume I should know what to do, after all, I am a chiropractor that treats car crash victims every day. That’s just the thing…I didn’t know what to do. I realized, if I don’t know what to do, how can my patients know what to do.
I went to urgent care the day of the crash; without even evaluating me, they told me to go to the emergency room. I knew enough to know I wasn’t having a brain bleed and I also knew they would want to do a CT scan or MRI, which has been shown over and over to not be reliable for diagnosing a concussion/head injury but these are still the go to tests in hospitals. Three days later I went to a different urgent care, with ringing in my ears and horrible vertigo, a doctor finally diagnosed me with a moderate concussion. He gave me an order to see a neurologist, nothing to mitigate the symptoms or to help healing. To make a long story short, my issue wasn’t urgent to any neurology department (although the order had been written as urgent). I couldn’t get an appointment until three to four months later. Needless to say, I was frustrated. I was suffering from vertigo, ringing in the ears, inability to problem solve, fatigue and difficulty with memory, all of which I was trying to treat myself. I couldn’t work at the capacity I needed to, I could only drive short distances, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t do any of my normal activities to help around the house, let alone any recreational activities.
I finally found “alternative” practitioners that had experience with brain injuries and would treat me. It is ironic that these practitioners are treating me following researched protocols for brain injury. I recently saw a post about someone needing to see a “real doctor”, evidently naturopaths, acupuncturists and chiropractors don’t fit their definition. The supposed “real doctors” won’t accept concussion patients until at least 12 weeks after a head injury. Just like a stroke, in the first three months an incredible amount of healing occurs, it seems logical to have the best environment for healing. If, at 12 weeks post-concussion, there are still symptoms present, the patient is at a point called post-concussive syndrome (PCS). PCS is extremely disruptive to patient’s lives, from missing school and work to interfering with patient’s personal lives. Why wait when there are many researched, easily prescribed ways to improve healing and recovery from TBI??
If you have been in a collision or suffered a blow to the head, no matter how insignificant it may seem (see the myths of head injuries below), get checked by someone who specializes in head injuries.
The 3 Myths
MYTH 1: I didn’t get knocked out, I can’t have a concussion
FALSE! You do not have to be knocked unconscious to have a head injury! Any kind of jarring motion to the head can cause a brain injury. I like to compare a tomato in a jar, it doesn’t take much to bruise the tomato with a quick change of direction of the jar, the brain moves similarly in the skull.
MYTH 2: You don’t look sick
FALSE! Head injuries are silent to everyone except the person injured. Common symptoms include: headache, fatigue, dizziness/vertigo, ringing in the ears, sensitivity to light/sound/temperature, agitation, depression and loss of memory or problem-solving skills. People often have difficulty with tasks that previously seemed easy. For me, even reading a menu was overwhelming.
MYTH 3: The injury only occurs during the moment of impact
FALSE! A head injury causes a barrage of chemical changes to occur in the brain, some of these chemicals are beneficial to healing, some cause more injury to occur. These changes begin at the moment of impact and last for weeks or even months. It is vital after an injury to rest (from activity and from screen time) and to have good nutrition. Avoiding food that can increase inflammation (sugar, diary, alcohol, processed foods) and increase food that can decrease inflammation (fruits, veggies, organic meats, nuts). It is important to get adjusted. Right after an adjustment was the only time my head felt clear for weeks after the crash.