Concussion occurs when a mechanical force transmitted to the brain causes disruption to normal cellular activity.
When a mechanical force affects the brain it causes a release of excitatory neurotransmitters – this leads to neurometabolic changes that precipitate further cellular impairment within the brain. This is the reason that concussion symptoms can persist for up to 14 days after the initial impact. Following a concussion there is lower energy availability within the brain leading to symptoms of fatigue, drowsiness, poor concentration and confusion. It is important to limit both physical and cognitively challenging activities whilst the brain restores to normal cellular functioning.
Concussion can also cause symptoms including frustration, irritability, sadness or anxiousness. Cellular changes that occur in the brain also impact emotional regulation so it is important to consider psychological well-being during the recovery period and address symptoms of anxiety or depression.
Post Concussion Syndrome is what occurs when symptoms persist beyond the typical window of recovery. This is thought to be a result of on-going dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, leading to persisting abnormalities in cellular function and energy levels within the brain. Research indicates there is an increased risk of persisting symptoms in those who experience multiple concussions, people with pre-existing mental health conditions or individuals experiencing high personal stress. Similar to an acute concussion, when someone experiences post concussion syndrome, physical and cognitively challenging activities should be kept at a low intensity. Professional advice should be sought to support a graded return to normal activity levels.
If you or someone you know may be suffering post concussion syndrome you should discuss this with your General Practitioner. When looking to return to normal activity levels our Accredited Exercise Physiologists can guide you and support you to improve your tolerance. To make a booking online click here or call (02) 5926 3806.