Living with concussion can have long term negative consequences on your mental and physical health, changing both your personality and your body. While many head injury sufferers may look normal, there are noticeable emotional traumas such as outbursts of yelling or crying which cause the concussed to feel like they have “lost a part of themselves.”
Often, concussed women see their lifestyles decimate from active and healthy to withdrawn, placing significant strains on social life, family life, and physical fitness. After a concussion the body finds itself varying from fight or flight, to a frozen state, making it difficult to do more than satisfy the most basic requirements of work, eat, sleep.
What happens when you are concussed?
The brain is wired for us to run from danger (flight) and if caught, play dead (freeze) which is the most primitive and widespread state in the human and animal kingdom. A physical trauma can switch on the stress response in the limbic or instinctual part of our brain, and it can get stuck there.
It is my experience that patients who have suffered a head injury or trauma almost always experience weight gain. Other symptoms include anxiety, depression, insomnia, waking often, brain fatigue, memory loss, frustration, tinnitus, hearing loss, blurred vision, dizziness, migraines or constant low-grade headache.
With much focus on assessment, there is little emphasis on treatment. Often medical practitioners prescribe medications to treat symptoms without getting to the root cause of the head injury, causing chronic stress and compression of the cranial nerves, leading to an increase of symptoms.
Some frequently prescribed medications after head trauma include:
- Antidepressants – often have little effect as the brain is physically traumatized
- Anti-anxiety medication – has side effects, while the anxiety can also be increased due to fascial restrictions
- Sleeping pills – often do not give quality sleep and the person is lethargic upon waking
- Pain pills – often necessary short term but long term changes the brain even more
Often women are being told that their innate sense of disrupted function “is all in their head” and that they need to see a psychologist. While it is true that it is all in your head, physiologically, the fascia and muscles of the head and neck are compressing the skull as if in a vice, leading to unregulated emotions and metabolism.
What can you do?
Breathe – Breathing in through nose stimulates the nerves in the brain. Each breath needs to be deep enough to move the entire rib cage.
Movement –Fascia loves to set down fibers, forming to what we do the most. For example, if we are looking at a Smart Phone, we lose the curvature in our necks, decreasing blood flow to our brains, creating acid reflex or trouble shallowing. If we sit all day, our body compresses on itself, affecting digestion. Movement breaks these fibers down and allows for circulation to the body and brain.
Hydration –Every thought and movement requires water. We either ingest water or it comes from our skin and our organs, which ages us quickly. Drink 2-4 liters of water per day, and take electrolytes for best absorption. Sip you water during the day, and set a timer to remind you.
- EMDR therapy – helps to rewire the brain
- Neurobiofeedback – supports the brain to calm down and communicate efficiently
- Fascial therapist with advanced training by the Fascia Training Institute
- Meditation and breathwork – guided meditations can be found free on you-tube
- Brain support supplements – the list is long, discuss with your health care provider for your best options
Women are entitled to better education and support for concussion, and while doctors and therapists often don’t know where to begin, the answer begins in the innate sense that something is “off,” almost always traceable to a traumatic injury, accident, or emotional event. The first step is advocating for oneself to find a real and lasting solution to healing our brains and our bodies.
- Simone Fortier