Concussion symptoms can be confusing. They don’t always show up right away, they can come and go, and they don’t always go away without extra therapy. We treat concussion patients every day and answer these questions for our patients regularly.Read More
Brain fitness has two basic principles: variety and curiosity. When you do something so frequently that it becomes second nature, it is time for a change. If you can do the newspaper crossword puzzle with your eyes closed, it's time for you to find a new challenge to get the best workout for your brain. Being curious about the world around you, how it works, and how you can understand it will keep your mind working fast and efficiently. The tips below will help you on your quest for mental fitness.
If you’re like the majority of people who have had a concussion, then you likely recovered a few weeks afterward and have felt fine ever since then. But not everyone is that fortunate. Some people do not recover with normal “rest” protocol after a concussion. And even if you do recover and walk away with no long-term symptoms, it isn’t without consequence: You will always be more susceptible to another concussion than someone who hasn’t had one, particularly during the first year after your concussion.
Discover a new level of understanding around concussions and how these injuries impact the lives of victims and their loved ones.
If you visit a healthcare professional for a concussion, you’ll probably be told to lie down in a dark room until all your symptoms go away. If you get any other advice, it’s usually just another way of saying, “Rest.” But in most cases, that’s not the best way to treat a concussion. And in our experience treating hundreds of patients, many of whom have had symptoms that lasted for months or years, we know that it can be frustratingly ineffective.
Concussion symptoms can be confusing. They don’t always show up right away, they can come and go, and they don’t always go away without extra therapy. We treat concussion patients every day and answer these questions for our patients regularly. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to concussion symptoms, including:
Parents love their children and want to provide the best possible support and care for their children. When your child or teen has a concussion or is trying to cope with long-term concussion symptoms, it can be challenging to know what to do and how much to do for your child. We understand watching your loved one be in pain, sort through the frustration and changes that come with experiencing a brain injury is not an easy adjustment for you. Naturally, we want to reduce the suffering of those we love, we begin to do more things for them with the intention to help them get better faster, or to reduce their level of stress. Sometimes the desire to take care of them can shift the relationship dynamic to a more codependent relationship. As children become young adults, it is important to instill a sense of interdependence, a space that encourages the teen to learn to be independent with support, guidelines, and a safety net. This empowers them to grow into healthy independent adults. This is also true for those who have a concussion and are learning what they are truly capable of.
Did you know the scientific name for an Avocado is Persea Americana? The avocado is prized for its high nutrient value and is added to various dishes due to its flavor and texture. The avocado has become an extraordinarily popular food among health-conscious individuals. It is known as a super-food, which isn’t surprising because of its health properties.
Going to school can be tough for any child or teen during this phase in their lives. They’re discovering themselves and where they fit in a sea of opportunities. Attending school can be especially tough when they are experiencing concussion symptoms. These symptoms can make your child or teen feel socially isolated because other children or teens don’t understand why they can no longer participate in gym class or why their class schedule has changed. It can be tough for your child to explain why things have changed or they might feel embarrassed about the changes that happened at school.
If you're like most people whose mood is impacted by the winter season, chances are you've woken up on a gray, winter day and wanted to stay in bed. We understand a case of the winter blues is likely to develop like the common cold. We have come up with a couple of ways to overcome this season's case of the winter blues, and we hope you can find the sunshine even on the rough days.
Did you know that concussions are among of the top injuries sustained while skiing and snowboarding? Beginners and professionals alike need to be equipped with the tools to stay safe on the slopes.
Parents who support their children recovering from post-concussion syndrome or symptoms (PCS) are in challenging circumstances. Many times parents and their injured child, are not fully supported throughout recovery. Often they are left with unanswered questions, and they are left searching and seeking resources to help them to help their child. We have asked parents of our patients, and parents of those who take care of individuals with PCS for things that would help others in their journey and this is what we gathered. The Recovery Rollercoaster We know this process can be frustrating, overwhelming, and it is a roller coaster of emotions for all involved. Throughout this process, you may experience feelings of frustration, empathy, and in some cases even heartache, hopelessness, and fear. It’s hard to watch your child suffer and feel you can’t do anything about it.
A concussion is a result of the head receiving a significant blow or jolt causing the brain to impact with the skull. This sudden movement will cause the brain to bounce or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging brain cells. The severity of a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can range from mild (a short change in consciousness) to severe (a long period of unconsciousness or memory loss after injury).
What Is The Ketogenic Diet? The Ketogenic diet was developed in 1921 to treat epileptic children. This diet was originally designed for 80 to 90 percent of calories to come from fat, 5 to15 percent to come from protein, and 5 to 10 percent to come from carbohydrates.
Concussions occur as the result of a rapid movement of the head and neck which causes the brain to shift and impact the skull. This sudden movement causes injury to the delicate structures, cells, neurons and blood vessels inside your brain. The impact of the injury can cause both physical and chemical changes in your brain and affect how it functions because it alters the systems in your brain. Medical professionals usually describe concussions as a mild form of TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury or mTBI) but, even the “mildest” concussions can cause serious effects and impact a person’s quality of life.
Did you know personality changes are not uncommon following a traumatic brain injury? After all, how we think and process the world is so much of who we are. Our temperament is virtually the way our brain explains the world around us. With a brain injury, the way we process and understand information will be disrupted. So we should not be surprised that our personality can change after a concussion. Personality changes can originate from two sources following a brain injury:
Oxford Dictionaries defines stress as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Everyone is very familiar with experiencing stressful events in their life. Stress occurs every day and comes in various forms. Stress from trying to juggle family, work, friends, and school commitments can be overwhelming. Stress can also develop from issues like health, money, and relationships.
Quite often we are asked what makes Cognitive FX unique in relation to clinics that have a background in functional neurology, including Brain Plasticity Centers. Here we review 8 key ways we are unique. 1- Our key founders have a degree in neuroscience or have been to medical school. Two of our founders hold a PhD and one of our founders is an MD. The founders brought together a team of multidisciplinary accredited therapists and trainers, each in their own discipline, to standardize a unique imaging and treatment protocol to effectively treat post-concussion symptoms. This includes neuroscientists, speech-language pathologists, psychologists, athletic trainers, licensed massage therapists, occupational therapists, and other professionals. 2- The thing that makes us the most unique is our objective imaging. Functional Neurocognitive Imaging (fNCI) looks at over 60 regions of the brain and gives you a clear view of which brain regions are working correctly and which ones are not working as they should. This imaging is looking directly at your brain, not at any other parts of the body. When a doctor only looks at symptoms to try to figure out what is going on in the brain, things can be missed or misdiagnosed. The fact that we treat the source of symptoms rather than the symptoms alone is very important. This empowers our multidisciplinary therapists and trainers to have a clear direction and create a plan to help you make significant improvements.
It is that time of year, time to set back your clocks by an hour. The end of daylight savings time is a time of year that many people look forward to for that extra hour of sleep. This one-hour change can have some negative impacts when it comes to driving safety.
This week is Teen Driver Safety Week, and we want to share some statistics and tips on how to keep your new driver safe in the car. Your teen being a newly licensed driver is a big milestone for you and your teen. Handing the keys to the family car to your teen might make you nervous, bringing to mind the dangers broadcasted at you from every media outlet. Not to fear, taking the right steps and supporting your teen to drive safely can make a difference. Below are three of the most common safety issues and tips on how to address these issues with your driving teen. No.1 Distracted Driving It’s no secret that distracted driving is dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that distracted driving is responsible for 15% of all crashes resulting in injuries and 10% of all crashes that concluded in fatalities. Unfortunately, many of these fatal accidents involve teen drivers. Teens are aware that distracted driving is dangerous. Over 90% of teens have admitted that they are aware of the dangers of texting while driving. Despite being aware, about a third of teens admitted they send or check texts while driving.
Essential fatty acids seem to be a big fad right now. BCC Research states, “The global market for natural fatty acids sourced from vegetable oils, animal fats is projected to reach more than $25.7 billion in 2019.” But why? What is so important? What is so essential about them? Here’s the low-down.
This week is Child Passenger Safety Week, and we want to share more about ways to keep your kids safe in the car. Car seats and boosters protect infants and children in a car accident, yet car crashes are a leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 13 years old. Car accidents often lead to traumatic brain injury for the driver and passengers, including children. The most important way to keep kids safe is by using the right car seat for them. Below are the different types of car seats on the market and the age recommendation for each type.
What imaging is used to diagnose a brain injury? After a concussion or any hit to the head, you go to the doctor, and they tell you might have a concussion, but that it is no big deal because your symptoms will just go away with some rest right? Sometimes, but not usually. It would be nice to know exactly how you are feeling to provide the best overall treatment and a new imaging technology can do that. A Functional Magnetic Resonance Image (fMRI) is an imaging technique used to diagnose concussion and recognizes changes in the brain while you are asked to engage in cognitive tasks. Most people have heard of an MRI and but fewer have heard of a functional MRI (fMRI). So what are they and what is the difference between them? MRI produces static images of the anatomy of the brain and a functional MRI produces images of what is going on inside the brain as it is working. Functional NeuroCognitive Imaging (fNCI) fNCI is a unique form of a fMRI that uses specific tests to measure how the brain is functioning. fNCI is over 98% accurate at diagnosing concussions. In the past, concussions have been subjectively diagnosed by either giving the individual a post-concussion symptom scale (PCSS) to rate the severity of their symptoms or by asking the patient if they went unconscious after getting hit.
Currently, many doctors and other medical professionals tell their patients that the majority of people who have a concussion will recover in a short amount of time (under a month). However, new studies are showing that the risk for long-term symptoms is much higher than doctors and concussion specialists previously thought. Before seeking treatment at Cognitive FX, the majority of our almost 1,000 patients struggled with their symptoms for years. We have treated patients who suffered needlessly from post-concussion symptoms for many decades. Among the oldest concussions we’ve treated was a concussion from 60 years ago. Many of these patients had given up hope that recovery was possible. They saw their symptoms as a permanent part of their lives and futures. However, our research and patient improvement reports continue to prove that patients can drastically improve from their post-concussion symptoms. So what should you do if you fall into this growing percentage of the population with long-term PCS? Below are the first steps you can take toward your recovery.
The brain loves taking the path of least resistance. This is true for blood flow and also for sending the communication signals in the brain when neurons are firing. Even a simple task requires different brain regions to work, or function, together at whatever you are trying to accomplish, be it reading this post, driving, writing, singing a song, or doing something as simple as opening your eyes, yawning, or breathing. Overall, when we are talking about brain function, we are talking about the ability for the neurons, the blood flow, and other systems in your brain to work and communicate with one another to do their job. After mTBI, injured regions of the brain can swell. Because the brain wants to take the path of least resistance, it will use different neuronal pathways to avoid the areas where there is inflammation. This change restricts blood flow in one or more regions of your brain, causing other regions to compensate for the regions that are injured. This means that different regions are over-exerting themselves to complete the work of the injured brain regions. Think of it as a receptionist who, on top of completing her own responsibilities, now has to do the job and work of the accounting department and the CEO. This imbalanced blood flow is what we call dysregulation, or dysfunction.
Over the last few months our team has been working on a new booklet to raise the level of awareness and education around concussions.
Self-care is something we all forget about—until we push ourselves too far. We want to give you a new perspective on self-care as you continue to enjoy this summer. Often, we see or hear that self-care is taking a bubble bath or taking a nap, which could be part of self-care for you. These are relaxing, but here when we talk about self-care we are not just talking about relaxing. Another way to see self-care is taking care of your well-being. When we see the connection between self-care and well-being, we can recognize it as the foundation to have a life we want. This adds a new level of importance to taking care of ourselves and those we love. When creating a summer routine, here are 10 things to consider incorporating into your life to support you and your family. When we take care of our well-being this makes us available to support others in their well-being as well.
When someone you love sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion, your whole world can change. You are launched into a world of uncertainty about the injury, recovery, and, perhaps, even who your loved one is anymore. So much can change after a TBI.
Cognitive FX Launches Non-Profit to Support Brain Injury Survivors Around the World
What comes to mind when you think of the word “syndrome?” Many commonly known syndromes are often associated with genetic factors or medical diseases that are often lifelong or have lasting effects. Because we know that many post-concussion symptoms are treatable, Cognitive FX agrees with the recent change in terminology and diagnosis that replaced post-concussion syndrome with the more accurate title of post-concussion symptoms. What was post-concussion syndrome? According to the latest International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), post-concussion syndrome included “subjective physical complaints (i.e. Headache, dizziness), cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes. These disturbances can be chronic, permanent, or late emerging” (King, Crawford, Wenden, Moss, & Wade, 1995). More specifically, post-concussion syndrome referred to a cluster of problems that emerge or worsen after receiving a concussion, with symptoms lasting longer than three months.
The EPIC Treatment method often brings about a significant amount of brain change in a short period of time, causing new blood flow regulation in your brain that can be drastically different than where it has been for a very long time. As with any sudden changes, the effects of this process, while overwhelmingly positive, can have some associated challenges. We call this the Traumatic Recovery Process. Every brain is unique. Every injury is unique. Thus, every recovery is unique. Understanding what to expect in the time after your week of EPIC Treatment can help you prepare for and successfully overcome these challenges.
Journaling is one of the greatest therapeutic techniques available. Journaling is free, confidential, and convenient. It offers you the opportunity to be your own therapist. You might think journaling must be done sitting down and writing in a diary-type book. If that doesn’t sound appealing, you may be excited to learn there are numerous types of journaling. You can find a style of journaling that is fun and stress relieving at the same time. Journaling offers you a way to process something and let it go. It can be incredibly helpful after a brain injury! After a brain injury, it can feel hard to express yourself and journaling is one way that can empower you to share yourself in a creative way. Discover some of the different types of journals below. Try several. If you find one you love, stick with it. If one doesn’t necessarily click for you, don’t force yourself into it. Keep experimenting until you find one that gives you emotional expression, release, or relief. Types of Journaling Write it Out Daily life and experiences: This is the type of journal many typically think of when discussing journals. Write about your day chronologically. The entries don’t have to be exhaustive. Try writing a little bit each day. Just put a pen to paper and write for a specified length of time or for a certain number of pages. Quick journal: Write one sentence a day. One word essence journaling: Write one word to summarize the day. Question a day: Answer your own questions or be guided by prompts or predetermined topics. I loved my “Q&A a Day: 5 Years Journal” I purchased on Amazon. Meditation or transition journal: After work, before you transition to home, write out all your thoughts to assist you in letting go of the stresses of the day and transition into a more relaxed state.
Water. Something we don’t really think about until we are hit with a gigantic wave of what feels like an unquenchable thirst. We then spend the next few minutes chugging water like it is the last thing we will ever do. We are all really good at coming up with excuses for why we haven’t had enough water.
A Tool to Support You in Healing After you have received treatment, or are feeling better, and are no longer feeling like your concussed/traumatic brain injury (TBI) self, you may find yourself still holding back or saying the words “I can’t.” It was a traumatic injury, sometimes the recovery can feel traumatic as well. You may have had many months while healing from your TBI where you struggled with various aspects of your life, including but not limited to, calling in sick to work because of headaches, forgetting important events, not remembering a word during an important presentation, inability to run on your treadmill due to dizziness, and feeling too tired to take care of your kids. Subsequently, you learned to set limitations for yourself. For this reason, once you’re feeling like yourself again, it can be a difficult transition to the new you.
Everything Changed After My Brain Injury Past patient, Anna Empey shares her experiences in a series of blog posts including "10 Things I Wish I had known Before my Brain Injury", "Journaling Through Recovery" and here in this post. I lived with post-concussion symptoms, from two separate brain injuries, for almost five years. It was one of the hardest periods in my life, trying to make it through each day, dealing with the migraines, and fighting to live a somewhat typical life. My second injury, which was about three years into recovering from the first injury, had pretty intense impacts on my life. I pretty much quit everything I was doing. I had to keep my job and focus on working 40 hours a week, dealing with constant exhaustion and fatigue. I started avoiding crowds and people in my daily life, and, eventually, I stopped communicating much with anyone because finding words was hard. I also lived with light and sound sensitivity along with short and long-term memory problems. At this point, it was hard to see the glass half full, and I pretty much lived like my glass was half empty.
Acceptance is the ultimate goal with regard to the stages of grief, your TBI or concussion, and the new you. Acceptance is accepting who you are, where you are, how you are. This is it. This is YOU. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And you are truly amazing. Struggles and all. You are a survivor. No one can do it better than you! Acceptance may mean distancing from people who don’t understand, give you ultimatums, enforce deadlines for healing, or get upset with you when you aren’t who you once were. You are worthy. You are deserving. You are brave and amazing. You are different than you were before your injury, but different can be good.
Headaches can be a tricky symptom to address. They are often one of several symptoms that may present itself after a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI). On another hand, headaches are not a requirement to support an actual diagnosis in a TBI or post-concussion symptoms (PCS).
Many believe the five stages of grief last weeks or months, but according to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler, the stages of grief are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. As a reminder, we do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may experience one, then another, and back again to the first one. Let each stage happen. Embrace it, learn from it, and then keep going. What is bargaining? Bargaining is a stage in the grief process that is helpful when you feel powerless over circumstances, especially after a brain injury. Bargaining is an attempt to regain control. Bargaining is frequently done with God, or a higher power, that you feel has some control over the situation. Bargaining is similar to negotiation. “I promise I’ll do this, or be this, if I can just go back in time—or have five more minutes or have one more day.” It’s interesting because you know all the bargaining in the world won’t help, but it doesn’t prevent you from trying, begging, “Please? I’ll do anything. I just want my brain back. I want me back! The way I was.” You want to go back in time—stop the accident from happening, put on protective gear, yield to that stop sign, put on your seatbelt. If only, if only, IF ONLY.
Did you play sports growing up? Hands down, my favorite sport as a kid was soccer. I loved participating in a sport where I could do something I enjoyed with teamwork involved. There was nothing better than stealing the ball and dribbling down the field past every opposing player, to score the winning goal! While soccer was an important part of my life as a child, I did not realize the implications it could have caused me. According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 3 (31%) concussions among girls and 1 in 4 (28%) concussions among boys happens in soccer while heading the ball.
Depression, one of the five stages of grief, may be the most familiar, and frustrating, feeling experienced after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion. And it’s not a fun one. Depression is a feeling of loss, emptiness, sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, and/or confusion. Depression as Part of the Five Stages of Grief After a TBI, typically you’re told to rest for days, weeks, maybe even months. A forced withdrawal from society, family, friends, work, school, everything. Then, once the rest period is over, you still may not instantly go back to the activities you’ve done in the past. You may find yourself getting lost driving to familiar places. You put food that belongs in the refrigerator in the pantry. You leave things in a very specific place to prevent losing them—only to forget where that place was! You read the same sentence seven times and still don’t understand what you read. You find yourself yelling at your spouse/children/friends for no apparent reason. You get a headache just walking across the room. The activities you used to enjoy may now cause you pain. You get dizzy running on your treadmill, and staring at your computer screen feels like torture. You may find yourself questioning your faith, your choices, your mindset, your abilities, questioning everything. Your TBI has changed your life. All of it.
Helmets are worn in countless sports and activities to protect the head from injury, specifically brain injury. We all wear helmets frequently in our lives, whether it is for something as as simple as biking or as adventurous as zip-lining. Answer this question for yourself, honestly. Do you wear a helmet 100% of the time while riding a bike or participating in a sport or an activity that requires a helmet? I remember when I was a young child I did not like wearing my helmet, especially when riding a bike. As a kid, you don’t think about the what ifs. I thought my helmet was inconvenient and uncomfortable. I was under the impression that I looked “cooler” without it. Clearly I wasn’t thinking about the consequences that could occur if I were to fall off my bike.
According to the CDC, “Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for all children ages 0 to 19.” Each day, there are about 8,000 children who are admitted to emergency rooms due to falls. This amounts to a tragic number of 3 million children each year. Think of your own child, niece, nephew, or a child you care for. Children are energetic, loud, and curious as they are constantly learning and trying to figure out who they are in this world. They bring so much happiness to our lives with their optimism and genuine spirits. When it comes to protecting your children, preventing a brain injury is more important than it may appear.
Adults 65+ years have the highest rates of traumatic brain injury (TBI) deaths, according to the New York Department of Health. Regardless of your age now, we all get older, even if we don’t want to. You can also think about your parents and grandparents, and the importance of helping those you love prevent an injury. Through these tips, you can learn how to reduce the risk of the elderly, or yourself from a concussion or brain injury. While a brain injury cannot fully be prevented here are some suggestions. Here are some tips to help prevent falls, specifically for the elderly:
The Cognitive FX Foundation is excited to present an afternoon about Brain Injury Awareness with TBI Survivor and Advocate Rekha Iyer. More Speakers include: Stephanie Kifowit, Illinois State Representative along with TBI Survivor, Amy Zellmer, Dr. Ryan Edwards and Dr. Lindsey Stull from the Dynamic Center for Vision Therapy, Chrys Chrysanthou the CEO of ClearEdge Brain Health Toolkit and Jash Desai. Please joins us this Saturday, March 31, in Oak Brook, Illinois from 3-5 pm. Donations of $25 per person to attend are encouraged but not required. RSVP Here This event will kickstart efforts to advance industry changing brain research, make treatment available to more people, and deliver to the masses the correct education to inspire impactful legislative changes.
After a traumatic brain injury or concussion, relationships can become strained. Communication can be difficult. Let’s be honest, thinking can be difficult. Sorting out your feelings and sharing them in a healthy way may feel impossible. After a TBI, the areas of your brain that affect processing, language, and word retrieval, can be affected. It takes extra energy and effort to communicate after a TBI. It may feel overwhelming or exhausting. The good news is it is possible to have healthy communication after a brain injury. It may take more effort and practice, but it is a real possibility. My memory struggles didn’t make communicating more difficult, but it did require me to come up with some simple tools to remember how to communicate effectively.
Anger is a stage in the grief process. Many times when we experience loss, or trauma, we experience anger, irritability, frustration, or even frequent annoyance. Anger is a healthy emotion, one we don’t necessarily like, but it’s not wrong to feel angry. Experiencing anger doesn’t say anything negative about us. We feel like just about anything could be the “straw that breaks the camel's back”. Anger is a common emotion most of us are familiar with, prior to injury. We frequently pretend we have control over it. After the injury, we recognize we may not be able to control it. Why do we have anger? Anger can cause us to do, or say, things we don’t mean, we later regret, and can’t take back. Anger isn’t the problem, it’s what we do with those feelings that matters. Anger can cause us problems, but anger is also beneficial.
Written by the Brain Injury Alliance of Utah
What is Denial? Denial is a stage in the grief process. Many times it just doesn’t feel real. We may believe we’re imagining the pain or trauma we’re currently experiencing. It’s a bad dream, a nightmare. We’re in shock and we’re anxious to wake up and go back to our normal reality.
As we start a new year, now is an excellent time to implement a new routine to help you live the life you want. Not sure where to start? Begin by thinking about these questions:
If you have had a recent brain injury and are unsure how to deal with the symptoms and changes you are experiencing, then this post is for you! To begin with, we encourage you to find a doctor and work with them throughout your recovery. Finding the right doctor to be on your team is very important to a successful recovery. Typically, you will follow the return to play protocol, starting with rest and self-care. Then you can use the following suggestions to help you adjust to the changes after a concussion or TBI. I wish I had a list things to do to support me in my mntal health when I experienced my TBI.
Past patient, Anna Empey shares her experiences in a series of blog posts including "Perspective After a Brain Injury" and here in this post. I sustained my first concussion in July of 2011, playing broom hockey. My roller skates slipped out from under my feet, and I hit the back of my head on the right side on cement. I didn’t know how severe my concussion was until I went to the doctor a week later with symptoms such as: Blurry Vision Headaches Fatigue Not Feeling Like Myself Difficulty remembering things including locations, words, names, and more. Problems sleeping and waking up At the time, it was diagnosed as a "grade 3" concussion, which means I also had lost consciousness for more than 30 minutes. I was told to rest for a few months, and slowly I got back into my life over the next six months. I came to Cognitive FX in 2015 about 9 months after I sustained another concussion on the front right side of my head in a car accident. It has taken me time to be grateful for both of my injuries, but most importantly I am thankful for who and where I am now. I wanted to share 10 things I wish I would have known before I had a brain injury.
Grief and loss are a part of life, but they are the least talked about part of life. Have you ever wondered why that is? It is because grief is HARD. Going through it is difficult. We seem to feel if we avoid talking about it, we will avoid feeling grief entirely. Wrong. Maybe you have heard of the Stages of Grief, and maybe you haven’t. Either way, you are experiencing grief, due to a recent brain injury, concussion, TBI, or trauma. Learning about the stages of grief gives validation and understanding. But, know that there is no wrong way to grieve. There is only your way. Grief is unique. You may experience all of the stages, or you may not. In what order, for what length of time, or how severe it will be is unpredictable. Stages may last minutes, or months. Not knowing is the irritating part! Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler developed the Five Stages of Grief as a framework to deal with death, dying, and loss of a loved one. More information can be found at grief.com. I believe these stages apply to all loss, including brain injury.
Out of all of the injuries a person can suffer in an automobile accident, brain injuries are probably one of the worst. The consequences of a brain injury are often severe and long-term. Brain injuries can be as minor as concussions, headaches, and dizziness or involve more serious conditions like memory loss or physical damage to brain tissue. Brain injuries can be difficult to detect and should be treated immediately by a medical professional.
Everyone’s experience is different. Anyone experiencing a concussion or TBI has a different story, different outlook on life, and different symptoms, their experience of EPIC Treatment is going to be different as well. With that said, here’s my experience. I was injured 17 years before I received treatment, and you can read more about how I got my injury in another post here if you are interested. Hopefully, my story validates some of your experience, gives hope, and provides direction. To begin with, I was surprised my schedule wasn’t more packed with activities. I questioned if this would work. I received over 25 hours of treatment during the week when I was expecting a 40 hour week. By the end of the week, I appreciated that I didn’t have a 40-hour schedule because I don’t think my brain could have handled it. Day One: I walked into the office on Monday morning. I was handed the check-in questionnaire. I filled out the Post Concussion Symptom Scale (PCSS) check-in and check-out questionnaire each day of treatment. CFX uses the questionnaires to monitor symptoms throughout the week, and is used as a measurement in their research. As I sat down to complete the simple form, I started to cry. I’m not against crying, but it takes a lot to push me to tears. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I called my husband. He said a quick “Focus, give it your best, and I love you.” Then I met Porter. Porter is one of the Patient Care Coordinators and I really felt support from him while I was at Cognitive FX. I didn’t have any idea what to expect. I was nervous. He gave me a tour, and we got started. *Sometimes you might also have an fNCI on your first day. I got my first scan done before I started treatment for my brain injury.
I was in an auto accident on January 2, 2001. I received a severe TBI, broke my back, pelvis, jaw, ribs, and pretty much every bone in my body. I was grateful to be alive, but after a few years I had accepted the fact that I was going to be deficient for the rest of my life.
A concussion is defined as “the result of the forceful motion of the head or impact causing a brief change in mental status (confusion, disorientation, or memory loss), with or without a loss of consciousness.”
During the holidays it gets hectic and extremely stressful, particularly for those who already are trying to cope with everyday life with post-concussion syndrome or a concussion.
As Susan A. Connors said, “No brain injury is too mild to ignore or too severe to lose hope, but all brain injuries – including concussion – should be taken seriously.” Yes. a concussion is considered a brain injury. Many may not realize a concussion is a brain injury because it is called "mild," but it is vital that we recognize that ANY damage to the brain is a brain injury. We take concussions very seriously here at Cognitive FX and we specialize in concussion treatment along with treatment for other neurological diseases. No matter how normal a person with a concussion may appear, a concussion can have significant impact on an individual’s life and their ability to function. We are finding that the right treatment protocols can bring improvement, even for individuals who have been diagnosed with Post-Concussion Syndrome.
Drowsy driving prevention focuses on "Stay alert, arrive alive." The national sleep foundation is helping to raise awareness of drowsy driving and the risks of driving when you are tired.
Booster Days are designed to help previous Cognitive FX patients obtain additional support after EPIC Treatment if needed.
It’s getting to be that time when children’s obsession with all things strange and maybe slightly scary is reaching an all-time high. They are picking out costumes, eagerly awaiting the sugar high they’ll inevitably have, followed no doubt by a SERIOUS sugar crash. It’s an exciting time; they get to be somebody else for just one night. Let’s go over some safety tips and tricks to ensure that the worst parts about Halloween are sugar crashes and an increased chance of cavities.
When it comes to multitasking, we all think we’re great at it, but really only about 2% of people can successfully multitask, according to Psychology Today. Even if you think you MIGHT be one of these people, chances are, you’re probably not. Yet it seems that we all like to test out that theory in inappropriate places, specifically when we’re on the road. Most of us have sent a text or talked on the phone while driving, but we also all have been in or know someone who has been in an accident involving distracted driving. You’d think we would have gotten the hint by now, especially with driving laws being the way that they are. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, “ 15 states prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving”, and “all states except 2 include at least one category for distraction on police crash report forms.”
Amber received her Bachelor’s Degree in Athletic Training from Brigham Young University in December of 2016. She is a certified and licensed athletic trainer. She also works at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, where she responds to and helps rehabilitate missionaries in training who hurt themselves during their recreation time. While she was a student at BYU, she participated in clinical rotations with local sites, including BYU’s football team, BYU’s softball team, and Provo High School’s athletics.
Dr. Mark Allen, and Dr. Alina Fong presented at Pink Concussions 4th conference Pink 4 hosted in Rome, Italy after the Pediatric Aquired Brain Injury Conference. This presentation explores important topics related to concussion research and development which leads to better concussion treatment, and treatment outcomes.
According to the CDC, “there are around 2.8 million TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths each year in the United States. TBI contributed to the deaths of almost 50,000 people. TBI was a diagnosis in more than 282,000 hospitalizations and 2.5 million ER visits. These consisted of TBI alone or TBI in combination with other injuries.”
Past patient, Anna Empey shares her experiences in a series of blog posts including "Perspective After a Brain Injury," "10 Things I Wish I had Know Before my Brain Injury," and here in this post. When I first was recovering, I felt like I couldn’t find words to write about my experience. I couldn’t explain either written or vocally how I was feeling or what I was going through. Over time, writing became something that helped me learn how to gather my thoughts and express myself. I focused more on the act of writing something down rather than if it was written perfectly or exactly accurate. Continually writing helped me find ways to get better at it.
Long before Cognitive FX was created, Dr. Mark Allen, PhD, and Dr. Alina Fong, PhD began searching for a greater understanding of the brain. Their focus has been on how the brain works and how each region of the brain contributes to functionality. As they began searching for answers, they began to understand how the brain functions, and its subtle but powerful abilities. Over time after collecting a wealth of data, they established a strong foundation of what a normal brain should function like and created an objective scale where we can measure where individuals should be for optimal brain functioning. Clinical Application of fNCI Begins After years researching and applying the technology of fMRI and adapting it they started a company with key partners called Notus, which provided the technology known as Notus Functional NeuroCognitive Imaging or fNCI. Notus started applying this technology in the clinical setting as interest grew in the community. This technology is now used in military hospitals, clinics, private hospitals, and more. Clinicians see that fNCI is useful as a diagnostic tool to understand what is happening with their patients in ways they could not understand before. fNCI inspects over 60 distinct regions of the brain. For example, physicians can better understand a complex brain injury by understanding which brain regions are not working instead of using a one word summary "concussion".
Sleep: something we tell ourselves we don’t have time for, yet we always seem to need more of it.
The new school year is just around the corner; kids are preparing for another year of learning, friendships, and experiences, and mothers are rejoicing everywhere! Whether it’s vocabulary tests, after school clubs, or sports, your kids are going to be kept pretty busy, and you want them to have the best and safest year possible. The benefits of getting children physically active at a young age are numerous. According to The Aspen Institute, physically active children are 15% more likely to attend college, score up to 40% higher on tests, and are 1/10th as likely to be obese. Whether this is their first year or their last participating in sports, every child wants to perform the best they can. Every parent wants their child to have a good time while also staying safe so they can keep playing the sports they love now and lead healthier and more successful lives later. http://youthreport.projectplay.us/the-solution Here’s a checklist of things you’ll need to help your athlete be successful:
The brain is the most important organ in the human body. It regulates the profuse amount of information that the body needs to regulate itself. This includes comprehending pain levels, regulating blood pressure, controlling nervous response, creating and secreting hormones, assisting digestion, along with coordinating the countless other signals the body sends to the brain to help our body function.
Ariel is a Neurological occupational Therapist at Cognitive FX.
The Cognitive FX EPIC Treatment program is designed to help patients recover from a concussion in a week. Centered around the specific deficits and symptoms of each patient, this week is intense for the mind, brain, and body, and uniquely customized to each individual. We use standard modalities that have been amplified for our patient’s specific needs such as Neurological Occupational Therapy, NeuroMuscular Therapy, Vision Therapy, Brain Games, De-stimulation and more. Our team focuses on giving the “Just Right Challenge” to help our patients know when to push through an exercise or when to rest or slow down a bit. The “Just Right Challenge” is simple. As you start the day you work to get to your optimal activity level. We often try to push through the mental and or physical challenges. Instead of pushing through pain and symptoms to the point of crashing, we have you slow down or take a short break , with the goal to get back to your optimal activity level again. As you move forward with this challenge, the goal is to need and take fewer breaks.
On a regular basis, we’re asked if gender and/or age influence one’s ability to recover. We are also asked if how someone was injured, or how long it has been since their injury will influence their ability to recover. Our research has found that while it is important to understand these demographics, these factors don’t deter the ability to recover in a short period of time.
Any good scientist knows that in every good data set there must be a way to look at the data objectively and subjectively. Without both types of data, it can be hard to have a full picture and understanding of what is being studied. What Does Objective Measurement Mean? Objective measurement is something that is measured consistently. For example, measuring how well someone can perform a set number of tasks in a controlled environment. There are no other factors that can alter the data gathered with this measurement.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) which is caused by the brain hitting the skull. This can happen in sports, car accidents, falling, or anything similar. A concussion can even be the result of a whiplash. Whenever the body moves quickly back and forth and the brain in turn hits the inside of the skull, it can result in a concussion. A concussion can cause damage to nerves and neurons, alter the blood flow in the brain, and cause chemical and functionality changes in the brain.
Using functional NeuroCognitive Imaging (fNCI) brain scan technology, we are able to measure the function and activation levels of 60 regions in the brain. We can clearly and objectively see which parts of the brain are working too hard or not working hard enough. Many of our patients are grateful for the objective analysis of fNCI because it gives them a precise understanding of how their injury is influencing their brain's ability to work efficiently.
Bethany Lewis is a Neurological Occupational Therapist here at Cognitive FX.
Concussions may be the hardest form of traumatic brain injury to treat due to the convoluted nature of long-term symptoms and how those symptoms can be misdiagnosed or even undiagnosed.
About a year ago I did an interview over the phone with a sports-talk radio show in Texas. The topic was concussion in high school football (Texas is all about high school football). I talked about treatment for long-term concussion effects and how new therapies are available that can be extremely effective. I also mentioned research that shows treatment effectiveness even when the concussion (or concussions) happened years earlier.
Neuro refers to brain cells, also known as Neurons; Vascular means the blood supply or blood flow which is the same as the vascular system; and Coupling means connection. NeuroVascular Coupling (NVC) is the connection between neurons and their vascular supply, which is their energy source required to function properly.
Cognitive FX offers a complimentary consultation to all potential patients who suffer from a wide variety of things ranging from sports or vehicle injuries to general cognitive decline from other non-injury related factors. To schedule a consultation with one of our Neuroscience Practitioners, simply complete a set of forms online found here. Once we receive your paperwork, we will review it to ensure your situation is a good fit for our services. For example, we do not treat addiction. We want to make sure that we can help you get better based on your specific concerns and symptoms. We have helped individuals recover from concussions, neurological problems from lead poisoning, neurological problems from carbon monoxide poisoning, along with helping the brain to function better after stroke(s).
fNCI Beginnings & Research For over a decade, Notus Neuropsychological Imaging has been researching the human brain and the effects of concussion. During this time, Notus developed an imaging technology called Functional NeuroCognitive Imaging (fNCI) that examines over 60 regions of the brain, making it possible to objectively diagnose a concussion or mTBI. fNCI can accurately depict which brain regions are overcompensating for others and which regions are not working enough, giving the therapists at Cognitive FX specific neuromarkers that clarify the severity and extent of a concussion.
After decades of research, Cognitive FX, in collaboration with Notus Neuropsychological Imaging, found the secret to understanding and recovering from a concussion: NeuroVascular Coupling (NVC). NVC is essentially the connection between the neurons, the astrocyte, and the amount of oxygen, and other nutrients from our vascular supply (blood flow) in our brain.
Cognitive FX will conduct giveaways on social media platforms as described in these rules, and by participating, each participant agrees to the following:
“Eat right and exercise” – this advice is nothing new, you’re tired of hearing it and you’re tempted to tune it out right now – but it’s not going away. In fact, when it comes to brain health, this worn cliché is gaining more traction than ever. Here I’ll focus just on exercise and leave nutrition to another post.
For years the protocol has been to rest until symptoms stop, and that if you start participating in an activity and you experience symptoms to stop what you are doing and rest. In the first few weeks after initial injury, rest is important and can help prepare the brain to be active and function properly again, and for the majority of people they recover from their injury in this time frame. There are however a group of individuals (around 15% of those diagnosed with a concussion) where symptoms persist after a few weeks. Typically, the diagnosis is post-concussion syndrome. So when do you stop resting and start being active again?
Neurology Vs. Neuropsychology: One of these is not like the other… Neurologists and Neuropsychologists often get mistaken as one and the same. Although there are some similarities, the differences are quite stark, and often allows for the necessity of both fields in many cases of neurologic injury.
Originally Published at Utah valley Health & Wellness Magazine Here As a scientist who studies concussion and does research on concussion treatment, I was recently asked what I would do if I needed concussion treatment. What questions would I ask, from my perspective as an expert? To answer this, my questions would focus on what I see as the four components of successful concussion recovery—diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and maintenance.
For Immediate Release – April 3, 2017, Provo, UT
Dr. Norman Doidge M.D. is a psychiatrist and a psychoanalyst. He has written many books including New York Times Best Seller, “The Brain that Changes Itself.” He also has written “The Brain’s Way of Healing.” Both books focus on the unique ways the brain changes and heals itself based on the concept of Neuroplasticity.
Dr. Alina Fong, Director of Cognitive FX in Utah, Joins the U.S. BIA Public Policy Committee Clinical Neuropsychologist will play an advisory role on national committee . For Immediate Release –Washington, D.C. Members of the United States Brain Injury Alliance (USBIA) Public Policy Committee Public Policy are thrilled to announce that Dr. Alina Fong of Utah has stepped onto their committee. Dr. Fong is an active and engaged member of the board for the Brain Injury Alliance of Utah, an affiliate of the USBIA, and is a respected national expert in concussion. The Public Policy Committee reviews and endorses legislation for the entire USBIA network and works with the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, chaired by Congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey and Todd Russell Platts of Pennsylvania.
I meet with patients every single day who have been dealing with concussion symptoms. Sometimes they have been experiencing them for a short amount of time, and others have been dealing with them for months and even years. When I meet with those that have dealt with symptoms longer, many times I hear things like “I am a different person," or “Life is different” or “I used to be different…” After a concussion, there are so many changes that can occur in almost every area of your world. For many people after a head injury or concussion, quality of life goes down, but I want you to know there is hope, and you are not alone in your experience.
Emily is a NeuroCognitive Therapist here at Cognitive FX.
By Brittany Prijatel, Sports Psychology Consultant With the new year comes new changes. I would like to give you 6 ways to help you identify changes that you want to make and how to fit them into a current daily routine or schedule. 1- Have a clear idea of what it is that you want to incorporate into your daily routine. How much time do I want/have to commit to this activity each day/week? 2- Map out what your current schedule is like during the day/week. It is always easier to do this with someone else so that you do not criticize and instead you analyze. There are many ways you can map out a daily routine. One way is to start with a piece of paper and write the hours from 7 am to 11 pm down the side (Hours may vary depending on your schedule). Then block out the time for each activity you are doing that day. Then you can easily see where time is going, where to add in the things you want to incorporate and what to adjust.
Cognitive FX is excited to announce that we will be at this year’s Your Health Expo on February 25 from 9 am to 6 pm at the South Towne Expo.
By Brittany Pritajel Self-talk is a necessary skill to develop as you seek to increase your well-being. Self-talk is managing what you say to yourself (either out loud or in your head). As you look to improve your life after a concussion or injury you may target changing your behavior. It is important to know that behind the behavior is thoughts because what you think affects how you feel, and how you feel affects how you behave. You can change how you talk to yourself. Positive self-talk can support you as you make changes in your life and strive to reach your goals in your concussion recovery.
Brittany Prijatel is an EPIC Coach here at Cognitive FX.
By Brittany Prijatel, Sports Psychology Consultant Motivation comes and goes, but one thing to remember is that it is possible to cultivate motivation. You can find and create motivation even when you are feeling unmotivated. As we move forward into the new year, we are at the height of personal change as well as establishing new routines. Here are 4 tips to keep in mind as we approach all the changes that we are looking to incorporate into our life.
This Christmas we received many letters and thank you notes from some of our past patients. Joan shared her experience with us, and we wanted to share her experience with you.
Everyone has their own ideas and opinions about goals and goal setting. One of the things that I notice as I work with individuals during EPIC concussion treatment, is that a lot of time it is not the goals that we are failing at but instead the goal setting. It may sound like a small difference but it can have a huge impact on achieving our goals.
Jake is a Neuromuscular Therapist here at Cognitive FX.
Barbara Fredrickson, a psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, conducted a study about the ways positive thinking affects us. She is quantifying positivity with emotions and life impact using a positive outlook.
By Brittany Prijatel - Sports Psychological Consultant Gratitude is a profound tool for cultivating positivity. Gratitude is simply the conscious act of bringing your attention to what you have or want to appreciate. More importantly, gratitude is a choice. By taking the time to appreciate the abundance that we have in our lives, we create a momentum towards receiving even more. When you begin to say thank you for the things that you have, and the kindness others share, you truly notice all the great things you have to be thankful for each day. Gratitude has been demonstrated to have a large impact on multiple areas of your life. By being grateful studies have shown that individuals have seen improvements with: Immune System A Decrease in Blood Pressure Improvements in Sleep & Relationships Increases in Happiness More Feelings of Enthusiasm, Interest, Attentiveness, Energy, & Determination
Jessica Heath is a Neurological Occupational Therapist here at Cognitive FX. Jessica received her degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Utah. Jessica has mostly worked with individuals that are recovering from stroke or brain injuries and brings a lot of experience and insight to patients throughout their week of EPIC Treatment. We asked Jessica to share her thoughts on what makes Cognitive FX an effective clinic for patient outcomes.
By Brittany Prijatel – Cognitive FX Sports Psychology Consultant The pinnacle of improvement is awareness. Before you can implement any sort of mental skills or techniques to help manage daily symptoms, it is important to understand the biggest piece of the puzzle is cultivating awareness. Awareness allows you to understand your symptoms as well as what may trigger them. This empowers you to create a better situation, a better day, and a better life. After EPIC Treatment it is important that you practice and use awareness to continue improving. 5 Ways to Practice Awareness & Improve Your Daily Life
By Britany Prijatel - Cognitive FX Sports Psychology Consultant What is Awareness? Awareness is defined as having knowledge, or being in the state or condition of being conscious of your surroundings. This concept can be applied to many different subjects, but awareness is an important part of understanding a concussion and your recovery process. It takes awareness to facilitate change, even if it is changing a mindset.
April Crystal is one of our NeuroCognitive Therapists here at Cognitive FX.
There are a variety of imaging technologies that can be used to look at a brain injury or a concussion, and are used in unique ways to address and review specific concerns with a head injury. These imaging technologies each have their place and use in addressing and understanding not only a brain injury and concussions but many injuries that may occur throughout our bodies. It is important to know that not all imaging technologies are alike or able to clear detect and diagnose a concussion.
Brady Tucker is a Research Associate here at Cognitive FX.
What is the Brock String Test? The Brock String Test is designed to test and treat visual perception problems. This is important because these problems can contribute to headaches, blurry vision, balance problems, and more. Symptoms that can be caused by a concussion. The Brock String Test really looks at two different things: convergence and suppression.
We know that there are millions of individuals who suffer from concussions yearly. There is no better time than now to expand our knowledge and application of research to help individuals recognize there is hope and recovery when addressing brain injury. There is a lot of information available about concussions and mTBI (mild Traumatic Brain Injury) and we want to share what recent research has taught us when it comes to concussion myths and facts. Concussion Myth: To get a concussion one must pass out or hit their head. mTBI is defined as “the result of the forceful motion of the head or impact causing brief change in mental status (confusion, disorientation or memory loss) or loss of consciousness for less than 30 minutes.” Notice here the definition mentions forceful motion OR impact OR loss of consciousness. Concussion Fact: You can get a concussion without passing out and/or without hitting your head. Since the brain is essentially floating in water and connected to our spinal cord via the brain stem one can get a concussion from forceful motion of the head, like whiplash. Yes, hitting your head can increase your risks of having a concussion but you do not have to pass out or receive a hard hit to sustain a concussion.
Benjamin Wing is our Research Associate Director here at Cognitive FX.
Lindsey is our Lead Psychometrist here at Cognitive FX.
In the new edition of The Brain's Way of Healing written by Dr. Norman Doidge, M.D. Cognitive FX is highlighted as a clinic that is taking new scientific research and applying it to the clinical environment. Dr. Doidge has reviewed our treatment protocols in person and has referred patients to us as well. We are grateful for all his support and interest in what we do and recommend people read both The Brain that Changes Itself and The Brain's way of Healing. Both books provide excellent content on how the brain functions and how through neuroplasticity individuals can overcome injuries.
A nationally recognized concussion treatment and research center in Provo, UT has implemented a new community outreach program targeted at student athletes. Cognitive FX is offeringno-cost concussion baseline testing. We are using a thoroughtesting protocol than any other concussion baseline testing protocol. The baseline testing is done prior to any concussive trauma then used in diagnosing concussions and assisting with the return to play decision as required by Utah House Bill 204.
Computerized Concussion Tests As concern about sports concussion has continued to rise over the last few years, there has been some hope that large-scale baseline testing, such as computerized cognitive tests, would help teams, schools, coaches and parents. The hope was that baseline tests could help athletes avoid some of the more serious consequences of multiple concussions. Computerized baseline tests or concussion testing is relatively cheap and can be used to test a large number of athletes in a short amount of time. But recent studies are showing that we need to use more than baseline tests to understand the influence of concussion.
At Cognitive FX we use both subjective and objective testing to discover how effective the treatment of a concussion is. During EPIC Treatment we use two fNCI scans one to definitively show where you were injured and another to understand how effective your concussion treatment has been. Our research shows the comparison between patients who go through our concussion treatment or receive no EPIC treatment at all. How effective is EPIC Treatment? At Cognitive FX we use fNCI (functional NeuroCognitive Imaging) to diagnose concussion(s), create a concussion treatment plan, and evaluate treatment effectiveness. The advantage of fNCI is that it is able to reveal indicators or “neuromarkers” of a concussion. These neuromarkers give us an idea of how severe the concussive effects are and which areas of the brain are most affected. The example below is an illustration of one of the known concussion neuromarkers and compares a patient who scores high on that neuromarker (more impairment) to one who scores low (less impairment).
By Mark Allen, Director of Research The Enhanced Performance in Cognition - EPIC concussion treatment provided at Cognitive FX is a highly effective approach to concussion rehabilitation. We have developed an optimal program for recovery that typically lasts about 1 week, with intensive daily therapy. Each day includes a cycle through specific therapies for each patient guided by her/his brain activation images (fNCI).
fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is often a more sensitive method for detecting brain injury such as concussion than a standard MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) brain scan. fNCI (functional NeuroCognitive Imaging) which is an advanced form of fMRI is particularly effective when detecting and understanding brain injury. This may be especially important for certain classes of patients—such as those with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI)—who display clear symptoms of a concussion with cognitive and neurological impairment but show no obvious brain tissue damage on standard MRI scans.