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Let’s talk about concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). I think this is important stuff to have a baseline knowledge of this because you truly never know if someone in your life will have an accident and you might not have immediate access to doctors.

The first thing people think of when they hear the word concussion is probably football or car accidents. From all of my years of being on dance teams at various football games, it’s always a serious matter when you see someone take a hit and everyone on the sidelines starts whispering the word concussion but I remember many times being on the sidelines and wondering how all of these people knew right away to say “Oh it’s probably a concussion”. My mind always thinks “but how do we know if it’s a concussion?”

In case you have not heard the term traumatic brain injury (TBI) before, a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury and concussions usually fall into the category of mild TBIs. It’s not as serious of a TBI as one where there is a brain hemorrhage, but the soft tissue of the brain has bounced against the hard surface of the skull fairly hard. It can have a long list of consequences if left untreated.

For people who might have experienced a concussion many years ago, there are still restorative things you can do if you still experience symptoms many years later which I’ll also talk about.

Causes: 

• car accidents

• sports 

falls at home or at work

• playground accidents

falling on ice

endless other scenarios

Most people who’ve had a concussion don’t know they’ve had one because most don’t have a full workup with a qualified doctor to find out. You don’t have to slip into full loss of consciousness to have a concussion.

If you or a loved one do have a hit to the head, there’s no harm in implementing some protective protocols, lifestyle measures, anti-inflammatory supplements, and nutrition in order to take measures to be on the safe side. Plus, if you find yourself in a position where you simply cannot afford a doctor, today’s info can serve as a starting resource for action steps that you can further look into on your own or share it with someone you know who maybe had a possible concussion but is too stubborn to see a doctor.

The reason I say anti-inflammatory supplements is because a traumatic brain injury IS basically a cascade of many types of inflammation in the brain and also throughout the entire body…it can affect mood, gut health, sleep, basically most functions in the body because our brain is obviously like the control center for the whole body.
Concussions can even be a trigger for autoimmune diseases or the perfect storm of pre-existing factors might have already existed and then the trauma of a concussion could push it over the top. The reason that head injuries can lead to autoimmune issues is that it can damage the blood-brain barrier, allowing toxins in and also allowing antibodies to take over, causing a lot of long-term damage.

What does it feel like to have a concussion? 

It’s important to know there are acute symptoms, which happen right away, and there are long-term symptoms that can continue weeks, months, years, or decades later. 

Symptoms (acute): 

dizziness

confusion / disorientation

nausea

blurry vision 

sound and light sensitivity

not being aware of events that happened immediately before/after impact 

can’t answer basic questions

unusual eye movement 

eyes glaze over 

Acute symptoms can also become long-term symptoms. On top of that other long-term symptoms might be…
 

Symptoms (long-term): 

• anger issues

• depression 

• leaky gut, digestive issues, food sensitivities that weren’t there before

• paranoia

• dizziness or balance issues 

• can’t get organized

• sleep issues

• brain fog

• neck pain

• trouble with crowds or busy situations 

• various autoimmune conditions

 

 

What’s happening in the body?

Aside from what a person feels right away, now let’s talk about what actually happens in the body that you won’t be able to outwardly see.
 

Primary injury:

• damage to neurons

• tearing the meninges (3 membranes that line the skull and enclose the brain and spinal cord)

• white blood cells rush to the area (Immune cells get put on high alert in the area that got hit and can basically attack anything close to them they don’t like)

• it gets tender and swollen as a protective mechanism

Secondary injury:

• inflammatory response

the nerves change how they fire and fire too much and can fizzle out

the pituitary gland and pituitary function can get messed up. This can affect other organs and feedback loops

• oxidative damage 

glucose deficit; the brain is not being fueled adequately

 • leaks of glutamate and calcium

 

 

Treating Concussions:

 So how do we treat concussions? This list is very NON-MEDICAL. It’s important to note that this list is if you can’t get to a doctor or you’re one of those stubborn people who simply won’t go to a doctor.

I am NOT saying “do these things to heal your concussion”. What I AM saying is that these are somethings you can do on your own IN ADDITION to true medical treatment to help further reduce symptoms or longer-term damage to your cells.

  1. Sleep and rest
  2. Fish oil, Omega 3s (12-16 grams)
  3. Creatine
  4. Turmeric
  5. Antioxidant-rich foods
  6. Caffeine (because it’s a vasoconstrictor)
  7. liposomal Co-Q10 
  8. green tea or green tea extract
  9. CBD (with some THC, ratio of 12:1 to 20:1 which is not enough to cause a psychoactive experience)
  10. NAC (N-acetylcysteine)

I don’t have doses listed because I don’t want to prescribe, but it can also vary from person to person. It also makes a difference in your body size and how hard you were hit. Please consult a doctor or take at your discretion.

 

Nutrition:

Once again I’m not saying “Eat these things and your concussion will be healed”. Nope. I’m saying if you want to make the smartest choices possible in order to optimize recovery time, it really comes down to eating nutrient-dense, non-inflammatory foods for a while. We should be doing that anyway, but in case you’re not, post-concussion is really a time to take it seriously. 

• No alcohol or sugar

• low starch

• low glycemic-index

• anti-inflammatory foods

• no gluten

• no trans fats

• no dairy

• lots of cruciferous vegetables. 

• lots of Omega 3s

Keep this up for at least 8 weeks right after the injury you’re going to probably reduce your symptoms and recovery time. 

 

When is it too late?

It’s never too late to try to heal a brain injury. Sooner is better obviously, but it’s never too late to try to improve any issues.

The brain is very resilient but also very fragile. As we get to the bottom of things in any aspect of health and put the puzzle together, it isn’t unusual to see several parts being affected.

I’m Kelly Wilson, owner of fitfizzstudio.com and I’m a personal trainer, nutrition coach, behavior change specialist, autoimmune disease educator and I’ve worked in the health and fitness industry for over 25 years.

I’m here to help you ditch the gimmicks, finding strength through your struggles, give you the knowledge for making the smartest choices for your own health and to remind you to celebrate victory all along the way. 

 

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The information shared is for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be interpreted as an intent to diagnose, treat, cure, heal or prescribe.

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Ep. 80: Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injury