Post Concussion Syndrome – “The world doesn’t seem real”
Recently we saw a wonderful young person in high school who sustained a concussion during a school soccer game, and nobody (not even their parents) realized it had affected them until about a month later.
This person was a great student, honors achiever, high level competitive athlete, a good kid, and generally laid back and quiet. Because of the quiet part, there were minimal words spoken about how they felt. Although parents would strike up conversation in different ways to appeal to their communication style, there were still very few words.
It wasn’t until one day the young person had what the parents described as a “panic attack”. They were at an event or festival, felt faint, felt like they were detached from their body, and felt overwhelmed with all the people surrounding them. They had to sit down for a bit, and it was at that moment the parents knew something was wrong.
Over the next few months the parents tried various therapies and nothing seemed to make things better. The young person described in limited words, that essentially they can look at something, and it doesn’t look real. Another way to describe this feeling was brain fog or not feeling clear headed. They knew what they were looking at was real, but it didn’t look real. It appeared her perception was off. She had no other way of describing it, and to the parents, it didn’t make any sense. Upon digging more, it was understood that the young person’s grades were also dropping just a bit. From straight A’s (like 100% on every test) to A’s and B’s. They felt it was harder to perceive what people were trying to say or teach them. They were unable to run without feeling like their brain was bouncing (remember, high level athlete here). They weren’t able to go to any dances or football games due to all the commotion around them. They couldn’t tolerate it.
All exam findings were essentially normal. I mean all exam findings. VNG, Balance, Bedside exam etc. So at this point all we had to go on was history findings and to localize this history to specific parts of the brain.
Enter the Parietal Lobe.
The parietal lobe is one of the 4 main lobes of the cortex, where it essentially perceives the world around you, and you within that world. It receives signals from your body and sensory organs (all of them- vestibular, touch, taste, muscle stretch, gravity, sound, light, vision, spoken words- you get the point)
The parietal lobe relates your rights and lefts, navigates you throughout your environment, helps your eyes track smoothly, and is the receiver of all information when it comes to learning and responding. You must hear all things correctly, associate them with what you know, and create a response to them that is appropriate.
Based on all the information this young person and their parents gave me, I decided to drive this patients parietal lobes.
Fast forward a couple weeks, within a handful of visits, they started finally noticing a difference. They would interpret the world more clearly sometimes. They were able to go for a run around the block and didn’t feel a single symptom. Within 2-3 weeks they were back at soccer practice (no scrimmage or full participation yet due to brain inflammation and glial priming (see concussion 101 link here). They were able to tolerate football games, movies, refereeing soccer games, full practices (still non contact), and attempted a school dance which only gave them minor symptoms.
We discussed brain inflammation, the chronicity of their symptoms and how that relates to the immune system in the brain being on “high alert”. Because of their head injury/concussion, their brain’s immune system which is called the glial system, is now sensitized to injuries, which means there will be a bigger and bigger immune response every time this person hits their head for the rest of the their life.
I told the parents I want her to be on a specific product, all the way through the end of their high school and college career, especially if they’re involved in sports. After that, they will need to be on low dose natural anti inflammatory products (NeuroFlam) for probably the rest of their life due to the brains want to inflame again.
We are happy to report we’ve seen some changes with this patient, although slow, it’s the first sign of improvement in almost 8 months. Our goal is to get them back to full participation in sports, grades back up, and obtaining offers for scholarships for academics to any college they want.
If you know anyone struggling with post concussion syndrome, or just plain weird symptoms, have them contact us for a comprehensive history and evaluation, we may be able to help.