Beyond Concussion: Cleared But Still Struggling
The call came three months after the injury. “My daughter is still having headaches. She also says that her vision is blurry sometimes. We saw the neurologist and she was cleared.”
Fall is a time for lots of outdoor activity. Coupled with slippery rain and leaves the season is ripe with the conditions for the most common causes of head injuries — sports trauma and falling.
Head injuries are complex. There is often residual pain, challenges in movement and focus, and/or fatigue, even after being cleared by a physician. We help you get back on track quickly after a head injury by looking at specific head/body relationships that other professionals don’t realize are so vital.
During October, I will focus on different scenarios of head injury and how the Kinetic Konnections’ unique perspective addresses overlooked aspects which are essential to recovery.
These four head injury scenarios will be discussed this month:
- Cleared, but still struggling (this week)
- Not a concussion, just a head bump
- Lost my balance again
- The unsuspected head trauma
When you still don’t feel better?
You followed the advice provided after your child’s concussion but they are still having a hard time. As a parent you want to know how you can help.
Let’s consider a different perspective
At Kinetic Konnections we look at a completely different aspect of the concussive event. We take your entire history into account, looking at how your head, core, and limbs work together compared to how they are naturally supposed to work together.
Unique information we gather and use in our problem-solving includes:
- What exactly occurred in the injury event? (and what else occurred that you don’t recall based on the logistics of the event.)
- Which of the fundamental head and body movement relationships were impacted?
- How was the integration of key sensory systems affected? (Vision and vestibular/balance)
- What prior injuries also impacted the foundational head and core movement relationships?
- Were the head/body relationships compromised from early developmental factors?
While these questions may seem unrelated, the answers are important. Answers to these questions lead us to the missing piece of your puzzle of why you/your child still feels off.
The case of the high school student
What exactly occurred?
The details of the injury are important to identifying and helping with ancillary pain or discomfort. Often by reconstructing the angles, torques, and forces of the accident we can figure out what other parts of your body were involved even though you don’t remember the details.
- A high school student sustained a head injury on spring break. She misjudged where she was going and smacked solidly into a low door frame of a boat.The way she hit her head was throwing off her functional head alignment. It was a factor for the unresolved headaches and occasional blurry vision.
Which of the foundational movements were impacted?
We assess a developmental framework of how the body and head center with each other. Also important are how the arms and legs relate to the body. Once the body and head are centered, the sensory systems, nervous system, and respiration all calm, reducing brain fog, fatigue, and pain.
- When she hit the doorframe her reaction caused her head to recoil. The reaction to the injury and the injury itself caused the center of her head movement to be bumped off-center from the center of the body movement. They were out of sync.
Are there Sensory System Integration Issues?
With any injury we assess balance reactions commonly referred to as sway control. This is your body’s ability to stay stable, react, and re-center when off balance. We also assess an integration of visual-motor skills. Vision experts will assess your visual function following a concussion. We take this a step further by checking how your vision and head fluently work with your hand movements. It’s common to find vision and fine motor are individually fine, but they lock up when they should be working together. This causes stress which is often experienced as headaches and fatigue.
- Our HS student did well on a simple timed visual-motor test. However, the functional position of her head, shoulder, and arm while she worked was contorted. No wonder she was getting headaches!
Quite often the event with the most trauma was not the most recent. Prior injuries can be a reason you don’t bounce back from a seemingly minor injury. Past accidents, trauma, or surgeries set the stage for the one that is now hard to recover from. Very often an impactful fall can throw off balance reactions, which leads to the situation resulting in the head injury.
- Our HS student did not have any prior injuries. A quick re-test at the end of the first session showed most of the functional issues were resolved. Because our HS student had no other injuries and developed from birth uneventfully, we were able to get her back on track in only two sessions.
How correct were the head/body relationships to begin with?
When early development has its own unique attributes we can develop just fine but underneath there may be a web of compensations that never were apparent. This is another layer of complexity of why you don’t bounce back the way everyone expects.
- What made things interesting for the HS student is that she was a twin. This meant she developed in utero with a series of asymmetric movements due to the restricted environment. Her head and body originally learned to work in a slightly off-center manner. None of this had any impact on her until the head injury. Once injured, these relationships were hard to self-reorganize so we had to help her head and body find a new symmetric way to work together.
A unique five-step process to get you back to better function
Our first step is gather injury information and assess key aspects of stability, balance, symmetry, and visual-motor function.
Step two is to re-center the movements of the body and of the head, and link the arms and legs. We use the gentle Bridging technique movements to do this, and often begin from a position of reconstructing the event. Essentially, we back-up the body’s structural relationships to the point before they got off track and help erase the way the forces and torques changed them.
Step three is to refresh all the correct relationships so the body remembers how it is structurally supposed to work. Restoring muscle memory is one way to think of this.
Step four is to refine the relationships of the body, head, eyes, and balance system. Sometimes this falls into place just by centering the head and body.
Step five when needed, is a more complex step to account for skewed movements from early years of development, and/or prior injuries. This is a critical step that we uniquely consider at Kinetic Konnections and it makes a difference!
Typical concussion recovery steps are outlined in this article.
Know someone who is still having a hard time after a head injury?
You can call 847-390-8348 or schedule online to schedule your first session.
Find related explanations in the FB videos where I share a more detailed description of common challenges and how we use Bridging to help. (You do not need a FB account to watch)