Our nationally known brain injury specialists have helped set care guidelines for the NFL and U.S. military veterans who have suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBI). And we have one of central Virginia’s only centers to assess brain function for patients living with conditions such as traumatic brain injury, seizure disorders and infections of the brain.
The Challenges of Concussion
Concussions are a mild type of brain injury; traumatic brain injuries have symptoms that are more severe and last longer.
Concussions and brain injuries tend to be invisible; even CTs and MRIs (brain scans) typically don’t show damage.
But failing to recognize when a concussion has occurred and not getting appropriate rest to allow the brain to heal leaves people vulnerable to more concussions. A second impact within a very short period of time can cause exponential problems.
How the Brain Reacts After a Concussion
The neurochemical reactions following a physical blow of any kind, not just to the head, are responsible for the symptoms of a concussion. The brain operates on glucose. A severe impact can stop the body from delivering glucose to the brain. This results in an energy crisis in the brain.
The lack of glucose, or energy, in the brain can cause a person to experience:
- Dazed feelings
- Double or blurred vision
Symptoms start to disappear as the chemicals in the brain return back to normal.
How to Recover from a Concussion
The first thing a concussion requires for healing: Rest. Not only does the brain need to reset, but people should avoid physical activity that could risk another injury while recovering from the first.
- Get good rest
- Eat well
- Avoid alcohol
- Gradually return to exercise under the supervision of an athletic trainer
Recovery time depends on gender and age, but is usually 5-10 days for a healthy adult. Both the very young and the very old tend to take as much as 30 days or longer to fully recover.
When concussions have prolonged symptoms and slower recovery, complicating factors may be at play, like:
- History of multiple concussions
- Learning disabilities