Traumatic Brain Injury/Concussion
Living with a past Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be very difficult. It is often called the invisible injury, meaning, to the outside world the challenges are often misunderstood. If someone injures their face, arm, or leg, you can see it, but when you injured your brain, you are living in a space that no one else can see. Regardless of when your TBI happened, the brain can change at any age.
Concussions are mTBIs
Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries. Concussions are caused by a blow, bumps, pushes, or shakes to the head causing the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth inside the skull. Sudden movements or impacts cause the brain to hit the skull at many different angles that lead to tissue stretching, that lead to damaged brain cells, that cause chemical changes in the brain.
Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries
A severe traumatic brain injury is similar to the description above, however, the mechanism of injury is typically more severe. Most severe TBIs occur from car crashes, falls, assaults, and/or a blow to the head. In addition, severe TBI always includes a period of unconsciousness.
Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
- Cognitive – attention, reaction time, memory
- Ocular-motor – headaches, reading, eye strain, judging distances, sensitivities
- Headache/Migraines – Nausea, sensitivity to light, sound, and smell
- Vestibular – dizziness, light-headed, nausea, vertigo
- Anxiety/Mood – nervousness, overwhelmed, irritability, fatigue
The brain can change. The brain can learn to change and adapt because of interacting within an environment, which means inside the body and on the outside of the body. You can have positive or negative changes. For example, after a head injury there is an increase in a neurotransmitter called glutamate. Glutamate is a normal excitatory neurotransmitter but not at an excessive level. Changing the internal environment to a low inflammation diet, supporting the body nutritionally with foods rich in antioxidants, and supplements to off-set deficiencies and support the healing process would generate a positive neuroplastic change. However, a diet loaded with fast-food, processed food, and/or empty calories would be a negative plastic change.
TBIs lead to short- and long-term changes in neuronal circuits. The neuronal changes lead to an imbalance within the brain’s messages to either excite or slow down. This imbalance can have a profound impact on your healing brain. Post-traumatic glutamate increase is responsible for long-term damage to the brain because it becomes an excitotoxin. If this pattern is not disrupted it will lead to cognitive and motor dysfunction
Break the Pattern
Support the gut-brain-axis. Identify your current state of health. Through functional lab testing you can identify what foods work or don’t work; are you prone to inflammation; are your vitamins and minerals in balance; and what do you need now to move into a positive neuroplastic state. The gut and brain are connected. The gut brain axis links the thoughts and feelings to our intestinal tract. The health of your gut will directly influence your healing process following an injury, even if it is years later.
Next, include your brain in the healing process. It is not just about learning to focus again, retrieve memories, run, coordinate motor skills, or even drive. Your brain is part of this equation and needs retraining. Our brains are responsible for how we think, feel, move, act, and so much more. Following a TBI your brain needs new training. Neurofeedback (link back to podcast) is a type of brain training used to address injuries and imbalances. Through a positive reward system your brain can learn to create new pathways and improve overall performance.
The CMB Difference:
At CMB, we have a 3-tier approach to evaluate your unique story.
- Brain – A comprehensive approach through QEEG will identify how your brain has been impacted by your injury
- Chemistry – Evaluate your internal biology through functional labs to promote healing
- Mechanical – Educate you on the power of movement in helping you redirect your brain and your body
We begin with a brain map. A brain map is a road map that identifies how your brain is wired. We use QEEG (Quantitative electroencephalography) which allows us to see how the brain is organized and if a brain wave is under- or over-aroused.
When a brain is injured, slow brainwaves, such as delta and theta increase to promote healing. Delta and theta brainwaves are typically seen in babies and toddlers because their brains are in active development. If this becomes the pattern, delta and theta waves become locked and habitual, which prevents growth out of the injured state.
Neurofeedback is a practice that allows you to tap into your brain’s reward system. Practicing neurofeedback is like learning to ride a bike. At first you had to get up on your bike and practice riding. In time you will be able to inhibit the slow waves and return to a state of self-regulation.