Does Your Doctor Understand Concussions?
Every day I consult with patients suffering from automobile accident injuries. Approximately half of these patients suffer from concussions. Most of these patients have been to a physician prior to consulting me. Only a small fraction of these patients had been previously diagnosed with a concussion and are surprised when I inform them. More times than not, a concussion will go undetected and undiagnosed in an emergency room and/or a private primary medical physician's or general chiropractor's office after a car accident.
A Concussion otherwise known as a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) is...
A traumatic injury to the brain due to a blow or a sudden jolt that causes the brain to malfunction. It may or may not involve loss of consciousness and it can be very mild or become prolonged.
Dangerous Lack of Brain Injury Education
Probably the most common reason for this lack of understanding is poor education. Medical and Chiropractic schools do not spend much time specifically on the topic of brain injury. The study of brain injuries constantly evolves with advances in technology. Common brain knowledge now far surpasses what was known just a few years ago. Only doctors who have an interest or specialization within this field bother to endeavor to take post-doctorate courses or even read medical or scientific literature on the topic.
Dangerous Myths About Concussions Propagated by Doctors:
“You Can't Have a Concussion—You Did Not Hit Your Head or Lose Consciousness”
“There Is No Treatment for Concussions—It Will Just Take Time”
All too Often, Patients Will Tell Me "My Doctor Said I couldn't Have a Concussion" and Repeat the Above Statements.
Further proving lack of general knowledge on this topic, some patients will report that their doctor is actually miffed that I have made such a diagnosis. When they learn I am a chiropractor it only intensifies their scrutiny. Never mind that I have spent years studying whiplash and brain injuries at the post-doctoral level alongside other chiropractors and medical doctors, but there are criteria and tests published by academic, medical and scientific journals to document, classify and follow up on brain injuries. This is information your average primary care MD or generalist DC have no knowledge of.
2 Problems Caused by Lack of Brain Injury Knowledge
First, brain injuries go undiagnosed leading to long-term health issues, needless suffering, improper treatments, psychological damage to victims and poorer outcomes in personal injury cases. If the concussion is undiagnosed then proper treatment is delayed. Patients continue to suffer from sometimes bizarre and confusing symptoms. Observed by an untrained physician, many people are told they just need to get over it and that it is a psychological problem. It is not uncommon to see a chronic concussion patient to be on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs because they have been told they are just suffering from a psychological disorder. In the longer term, concussions have been linked to more likely onset of Fibromyalgia, Parkinson's and Alzheimer’s diseases.
Second, even if a primary care physician or even a neurologist does recognize a concussion, the most common treatment is rest. Most medical physicians will tell you with all earnest that there are no treatments for mild brain injuries. The problem with that notion is that it is wrong. And since most patients accept the advice of their doctors, particularly specialists like neurologists, they tend to give up on finding further care and then as mentioned earlier end up with long-term suffering. The truth is, treatments DO exist to help accelerate the healing of brain injuries, they just don't happen to be pharmacologically based. In fact, research dating back to the 1960's showed that low light laser therapy can help heal concussions. This research has been ignored by the mainstream medical establishment.
Simple Truths About Car Accident Concussions
Concussions caused by car accidents are common and do not require direct contact with the head. A sudden jolt particularly from behind or the side may jerk the head so violently that the brain is injured. It's the same principle as “shaken baby syndrome.”
It does not take a severe collision to cause a brain injury. In fact, slower speed collision with less vehicle damage are more likely to concuss your brain than higher speed massive vehicle damage collisions. That's because in slow speed collisions there is no bleed off of energy from deforming car parts to slow down the impact so more energy is transferred to the body. A quick pop from behind that jerks your head is a typical mechanism for concussion.
You do not need to lose consciousness to have a concussion. Most concussions do not involve loss of consciousness, but symptoms soon after an injury are usually present.
Tell tale signs of concussion: headache, dizziness, foggy or out of sorts sensation, confusion, disorientation, ringing in ears, difficulty speaking, nausea, vomiting, amnesia, lack of memory or concentration, crying, lack of coordination, blurry vision, face numbness, anger, and more. One or more of these symptoms within moments of the collision is enough to suggest a brain injury and requires an evaluation by a medical specialist trained in concussion detection.
Your symptoms may slowly evolve over a period of days to weeks. This delay in onset of symptoms is not uncommon in mild traumatic brain injury.
There is a lack of knowledge in the medical field about concussions after a car accident.
This leads to misinformation and needless and prolonged suffering. If you've had a car accident, even a minor one and you have the symptoms described in this article and your doctor has told you you’re fine or just give it time, then you owe it to yourself to get checked by an expert in this field. If you do have a concussion there are treatments available to help you.