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How To Hit a Concussion Head On: Healing & Hope

How To Hit a Concussion Head On: Healing & Hope

Yes, the pun is intended. In January 2013, right after enjoying a beautiful Christmas season full of music and so much joy, I got a head injury that caused a major concussion. Concussion is just a fancy word for brain injury.  Since then I’ve experienced many repeat injuries to my head.  Kind of like a recurring nightmare. It’s all too bizarre.

The recovery has been long. The road has been both trying and a daily battle for energy to do the things I love to do. Yet, God is with me in this journey, taking my hand each step of the way.  I have learned so much through this experience and my faith continues to be sharpened.  Friends, family, and my church community have been a constant encouragement to keep on keeping on! 

Many people have asked me if I’m still writing songs. The answer is a wholehearted Yes! And kind of.  The songs I want to write are inside like seedlings. Writer and Theologian, Frederick Beuchner, says something to the effect that when you’re in the middle of a difficult season in life, it’s probably true that you won’t yet have the full perspective to write and tell the story the way it’s meant to be told until you’re able to look back. So, for now, I write about the Larger Story as best I can – the story that says there is always something going on that we can’t see, but we believe it is true. 

This is the story that says there is a God. He has written us into his story. It is good. He cares deeply for each one of us. He didn’t hold onto his glory and riches, power and prestige. He came to this earth as a baby boy named Jesus. He left the glory of heaven to pursue your heart and mine. 

This is the One we worship at Christmas. And, everyday. He is the One who invites us to know him. He invites us to open our hearts to him.  In whatever we are going through, the invitation is to call out to him, wait for him, and seek him.  Find a silent night to cry out to him. Though you can’t see him with your eyes, Immanuel is here – “God with us.” Without remembering He is with me, I would not be able to keep going through this intense season of healing, waiting and hoping.

Many people have also asked me for wisdom on how to treat a concussion for themselves, their friends or their loved ones. Well, in all honestly, I do feel like I am a walking concussion clinic most days. So, I am happy to share what I know and pray it will help anyone going through the effects of a concussion or struggling with Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS).  

Disclaimer: I am not attempting to provide medical advice in place of your doctor. Please do not attempt any of these action items if they would counter any of the care you are currently seeking. 

I do hope these tips will help you! They have helped me greatly! I have learned much on this journey that could be of great benefit to others.

I have received permission to share with you a Physical Therapy protocol for getting your entire body to calm down after a tragic event like a concussion, injury of any sort, death of a family member, stressful season of life, emotional issues, and the list goes on and on.  Please see number 25, Shock Therapy, below. 

Here are my top 25 ACTION items for hitting your concussion recovery with all your strength!  These tips are for both immediate and long term intervention:


1.  Drink water like your life depends on it (it does!).

2. Eat blueberries to no end.

3.  Eat almonds like crazy.

4. Ice the area that got hit.

4.  Take 2,000-4,400 mg of molecularly distilled fish oil daily, starting now.  My concussion doctor at Georgetown MedStar NRH recommended Molecullary distilled Fish Oil found at Vitacost.com (affiliate link).

5.  Rest. Sleep a lot!

6. Stop screen time (phone, computer, tv, all of it) for at least 24-48 hours or up to two weeks.

7. Have someone else check your email, read it to you and dictate your responses to them.

8. Keep white noise in the background so your brain doesn't let your auditory cortex shut down. Make sure it is white noise you enjoy. Annoying noise will not help you recover.  

9. Don’t wait it out. See a concussion doctor. Search your area for concussion specialists.  See other specialists for your eyes (neuro-opthamologist, your neck (chiropractor or other therapist), vestibular rehab (physical therapy), your ears (ENT, audiologist, or check out hyperacusis.net).

10.  Check your cervical spine. Most concussions come with some sort of neck injury that could go undiagnosed for many months unless you are proactive.

11. Do not assume your doctor has considered every angle of treatment for your optimum recovery.  If you feel any symptoms that aren't being addressed, research how to handle them. Be your own advocate for wellness.

12. Do light daily stretches for areas of discomfort (LIGHT! Never push). The best gentle stretch for the neck and spine is to cross your arms and bend forward, laying your crossed arms on a bed or table, being careful not to let your head go lower than your heart. 

13. Do yoga. Daily. It brings oxygen to your brain and your whole system.  AVOID downward dog and any forward bends that put your head below your heart unless the doctor has cleared you for this type of motion.

14.  Breathe! Take your deepest breath of the day right now. And now.  And now.

15.  Use essential oils to help get oxygen to your brain. (Frankincense is an anti-inflammatory for the brain – diffuse it into the air and breathe it in.  Some studies show oxygen travels faster to the brain when breathing Frankincense. Lavendar and Peppermint on the temples and back of neck for a headache is amazing. For more information on the use of oils, see www.draxe.com.

16. Do your own PT right away! Perform Integrative manual therapy on yourself to help drain inflammation out of the brain (one hand on back of your head or wherever got hit, other hand behind your back across your ureters right above your sacrum. You can do this as often as you want- hold it there for 15-30 minutes at least.  You may feel heat releasing from the spot on your head you are touching.  No need to press, just a gentle hand laying on each area.  It works with muscle energy to repair damaged or traumatized tissue. It's amazing!).  You can also put the hand behind your back across your adrenals instead of ureters to help your adrenal system calm down.

17. Think about how much you have to be thankful for.

18. Be determined to get better! Let nothing stop you from hitting this stuff hard so you can get back to your life sooner.  Rest will get you there.  Pushing yourself will not.

19. Take prescription meds if your doctor recommends them (gabapentin or amantadine are two of the most common drugs for resolving concussion symptoms).  I was afraid to take them at first because the side effects listed seemed just as bad as my symptoms.  But, once I started taking them, my recovery truly began to speed up. I got off of the meds as soon as possible after a few short months to avoid the side effects. 

20. When you are ready, exercise routinely.  Some studies show physical activity helps get oxygen to the brain. Only attempt this if you are cleared to do so.  

21. Some other fancy gadgets: Purchase your own tens unit for cervical spine rehab, consider massage therapy tools, consider these funky glasses to save your brain and your eyes from blue light when doing screen time, buy a heat pack you love!

22. Do not forget to drink water. Drink a full water bottle before your feet hit the floor every morning.

23. Tell your loved ones how much you love them.

24.  If any treatment you are receiving isn’t working for you, don’t continue going!  Keep searching for what is right for YOUR recovery. 

25.  The only form of Physical Therapy that has made a lasting change for me is called Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT).  The practice I go to is amazing and has helped me get most of my life back! Mainstream Physical Therapy was not able to address my symptoms, so I began searching for alternatives.  IMT has not only increased my energy levels, but it has repaired much of the damage the concussions caused to my brain. 

Another IMT technique (in addition to those listed above) that you can do on yourself at home, or have someone do on you is called “Shock Therapy.”   When the body goes through any sort of trauma, there is a lock down that occurs which causes the body to stop functioning optimally.  We all know what this is like when we go through anything stressful!  The body tightens up, the brain tightens up, organs inside tighten up… need I say more.  Here is the regimen to help your body unwind from a traumatic or stressful event.  This enables the autonomic nervous system to calm down as well. When all is calm, your body can go to work to heal itself because it is ready to work optimally!  Shock therapy can be performed as many times as you feel it is helpful. 

Lie on your back.  Place one hand behind your back across your adrenals (slightly above the middle of your back).  Leave one hand across your adrenals while placing the other hand on each of these places:

Adrenals to: 

-thyroid gland (in between the “V” where your collarbones/sternum meet)

-Sterno-clavicular joints (the two points of the “V” where the collarbones/sternum meet)

-Heart

-Usterus/prostate

-Liver (just below your right rib cage)

-Fronto-nasal area (limbic system)

-Cerebellum at occiput (where the back of the head meets the neck)

-Across the top of both thighs at the same time

-Sacrum

-Naviculars (if you flex your foot and feel your large ankle bone, move toward your toes to find the next most protruding bone in your foot). 

 

Now, move the hand that was on your adrenals to your thyroid gland.

Thyroid gland to:

-Fronto-nasal area (limbic system)

-Uterus/prostate

 

Now, move the hand that was on your thyroid glad back to your jaw/mandible.

Angles of mandible to:

-Adrenals.

It does not matter which hand you use. It does not matter if one hand is yours and the other hand is someone else’s hand. What matters is that you hold each connection until the therapeutic pulse that arises calms down.  This could be any length of time from one minute to 10 minutes or more.   There is no pressing or pressure involved. Simply lay your hands gently on the point of connection. 

When you’re done, process out any excess inflammation by putting one hand on the back of the head and the other hand behind your back across the ureters.   You can also move the hand from the back of your head to your forehead, heart or jaw.  

This is breakthrough concussion treatment. If this helps you, please consider making a donation to the Sharon Giammatteo Memorial Fund.  Sharon and her husband Tom discovered the techniques for Integrative Manual Therapy and have been training therapists in this method for the last 40 years.

What else have you found helpful for treating a concussion or any type of brain injury?  I'm sure I have left out some great ideas from my top 25. Please share your thoughts with me on my facebook page or in the comments below.  

Merry Christmas to each of you! Check out my Christmas album, Born This Day, if you'd like some new music for your Christmas playlist! 

May God continue to fill you with hope for healing.

Kathryn Brunner