The previlence of head injury and the lack of effective treatments are hot topics in the news. The country's awareness that concussions can cause serious damage, particularly in growing brains and the prevalence has led to movies like Concussion with Will Smith, and to a national debate about whether children should play concussion-prone sports. Time magazine recently published an article: Concussion Diagnoses in Teens Reach Record High. A new study shows from 2010-15 teen concussions have increased 71%, in part because of laws that now require childrens' sports programs to report head injuries. So how do we spot and treat head injuries?
Next is a summary from a recent study showing most common signs of a concussion and in the following section we'll turn to brain-hacker extraordinare Dave Asprey's tips for how to support concussion/ traumatic brain injury (TBI) recovery.
Most Frequent Head Injury Symptoms
A group of head injury experts just reviewed all the major studies on concussion symptoms to come up with a concise list of most frequent symptoms. These signs appear within 1-2 days of the injury.
- Slowed reaction time
- Impaired verbal learning and memory
- impaired balance
- disorientation or confusion
Other immediate symptoms that occur in over 50% of concussions, many of which persist if it is a more severe injury or is a second or third injury:
- Headaches (75%)
- Blurred vision (75%)
- Dizziness (61%)
- Nausea (61%)
- Sleep disturbances (60%)
How to Recover From a Head Injury
What helps a concussion? Celebrity bio-hacker, Dave Asprey, has spent the last two decade and hundreds of thousands of dollars exploring and testing treatments, brain training equipment and technologies, and best health practices to improve IQ, performance, and quality of life. In consultations with experts, his main guinea pig has been himself.
In a recent podcast, Dave shared what he did to help himself recover from a concussion. Given his vast knowledge of the latest brain health interventions, his list is an intelligent one. And far more thorough than what you'll get from a neurologist. Typically neurologists just prescribe "cognitive rest" for a few days or a week.
Here's Dave's list of to dos if you have been diagnosed with a concussion.
- Get sleep and refrain from cognitively and physically demanding activities. Darkness is also recommended if the TBI sufferer has sensitivity to light.
- Apply topical progesterone. Progesterone has been shown in studies on TBI treatment to have neuroprotective and neuroregenerative abilities and reduces inflammation. Some studies show the effects are improved if vitamin D is also taken.
- Take high quality krill oil or fish oil, high in DHEA and Omega 3s. The brain is 30% Omega 3 fat so when you supplement with high quality fish or krill oil you are giving the body the building blocks to repair the brain.
- Neurofeedback. He is a big proponent of neurofeedback equipment for peak performance but here he used the brain training for post-concussion to allow his brain to see it's damage and repair it. At our neurofeedback clinics the first symptoms we see improve from concussions are sleep problems, headaches and dizziness.
Here's a neurofeedback testimonial from a concussion client who had to take a medical leave.
Dave Asprey: what do you do after a concussion to recover from it, and what do you do when you have long-term issues from concussions? Part of the answer is always the same. It’s neurofeedback, showing the brain where it’s broken. The brain is amazingly plastic.
Various other therapies: light therapy, infared sauna, high does glutathione (the "mother of all antioxidants") are other helpful interventions on his list. Refer to his podcast transcript for more.
What if you haven't recently had a concussion but play sports or activities where bumps to the head are likely? Don't do nothing. There is evidence that taking high quality fish oil and other brain "building blocks" help prevent TBIs from occuring when you sustain a blow to the head.
Another reason to take brain supplements and train with neurofeedback is that many of us have alredy had concussions and these interventions can help the brain re-wire damaged areas. Often people are re-introduced to old concussions when they have MRIs done for unrelated reasons many years later. The damaged areas are still visible and pointed out by the neurologist, prompting people to remember head injuries long forgotten!
Your brain is a precious organ essential for our happiness, success and quality of life. Take care of it!