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Concussion Management

What is a Concussion?

A concussion occurs when a significant blow to the head disrupts how your brain's neurons fire. The physical force from a blow to the head (or even after significant whiplash) can cause your brain to rotate inside your skull, which causes individual neurons stretch. A neuron is a type of cell in your brain and nervous system that helps transmit information and signals throughout your body. It's like a tiny messenger that communicates important messages between different parts of your brain and helps you think, feel, and move. The stretching of neurons leads to a surge of hyperactivity, like an "electrical storm" inside your brain, with many neurons firing all at once. 

Image depicting a headache

All of this extra electrical activity requires a lot of fuel to power it. ATP is the fuel that powers our cells. The surge in activity caused by hyperactive neurons uses up lots of ATP, which depletes the total amount of available fuel for your brain cells. This hyperactivity followed by energy depletion can lead to altered firing patterns of neural circuits within your brain.


This altered firing patterns then cause the symptoms that you feel, including:

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness 

  • Nausea

  • Brain fog

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Fatigue

  • Altered emotional state (anxiety, depression, irritability)

Luckily for us, concussions do not cause the death or permanent damage of any brain cells. Because no brain cells have died, CT and MRI scans will not show any findings. And, most importantly, because no brain cells have been permanently damaged can fully recover with proper treatment following a concussion!


Each person is unique, which means that you must have a comprehensive assessment in order to create your unique treatment plan. A comprehensive concussion assessment includes assessing multiple body systems to fully understand how your body is responding to the concussion so that we can target treatment to best suit your needs. This testing should include an exam of each of these areas: 

  • Neurological system

  • Visual system

  • Vestibular system

  • Cervical spine (neck)

  • ​Cardiovascular exercise testing​

 You can return to your NORMAL SELF with the right assessment and treatment!

What Treatments are Available for Concussions?

A lot of research has been focused on concussions over the past 20 years and there are now many avenues for treatment. Gone are the days of sitting in a dark room and waiting! 


Cervical Spine (Neck)

Concussion injuries occur when the head & brain is moved rapidly. Because your head and neck are attached, when your head is moved in this way, your neck moves as well.


This means that neck injuries and whiplash must also be included in any concussion assessment and treatment plan. Whiplash following concussion commonly contributes to symptoms such as headaches, brain fog, and dizziness. By using treatments including myofascial release, chiropractic adjusting, and home rehab & stretching routines, whiplash and concussion injuries can be treated and managed together.


Cardiovascular System & Blood Flow

After a concussion, blood flow to the brain is often altered. This can cause exercise or other increases in heart rate to aggravate your symptoms.


The Buffalo Concussion Treadmill Test is a standardized method of assessing the effect that increased heart rate and blood pressure have on your brain. During this walking test, patients wear a heart rate monitor to correlate at what level of exertion their symptoms are triggered. We can then use this information to guide patients through a home exercise plan that is designed to increase tolerance to exercise, without triggering symptoms. 

Visual & Vestibular Rehab

The visual system refers to your eyes, plus the neural pathways that connect your eyes to the brain. This is the system that allows you to process light and creates a mental image of your surroundings. Similarly, the vestibular system is made up of physical structures in your inner ear called vestibules and canals. The inner ear and connected neural networks within your brain signal how your head is positioned and this, in turn, helps you balance. 

Remember, concussions cause neurons to stretch, which makes them hyperactive and creates an "electrical storm" in your brain, which requires a lot of energy to fuel. After a concussion, the neural pathways (made up of neurons) connecting the visual and vestibular systems can become disorganized, which leads to symptoms of dizziness, difficulty focusing, fatigue, and brain fog. Specific Vestibular-Ocular Motor Screening assessments can stress these systems to determine if they are contributing to your concussion symptoms. This involves performing specific eye and head movements and evaluating what symptoms are provoked. Home rehab can be prescribed based on the results of these tests. 

Return to School/Work

The increased cognitive load of work or school can often aggravate concussion symptoms. We can provide you with a structured plan to follow that allows you to return to your everyday life as quickly and safely as possible! 


Return to Sport

It is essential for athletes to recover from concussions with close monitoring in order to avoid second impact syndrome and the harm of multiple concussions by following a return to sport protocol. This is the quickest, and safest way to return to play and maximize your recovery. 

Our return to sport protocol includes:

  • Buffalo treadmill testing

  • Visual & Vestibular testing

  • Baseline re-testing (if valid baseline test is available)

My Concussion Story

By Dr Trent Gray

​I suffered a severe concussion following a rock climbing accident when I was attending chiropractic school. Yes, I was wearing a helmet! This fall left me with a skull fracture and severe concussion. For months, I struggled with persistent dizziness, vertigo, brain fog, and an inability to concentrate on a task for more than a few minutes. This injury forced me to withdraw from my classes and take a semester off school to focus on healing.

It was at this time that I found the Complete Concussion Management program. I enrolled in their course and studied their principles. By applying these principals I was able to take control of my symptoms and start to recover again! 3 months after my accident, I returned to chiropractic school symptom free and was able take part in full time schooling without any issues. I also returned to rock climbing, snowboarding, and all my other sports. Through this experience I learned a lot about concussion recovery and how challenging it can be. Both physical and mental aspects of this journey are incredibly taxing, and I am passionate about helping others navigate their own recovery. 

Dr Trent Gray in hospital after sustaining a concussion and skull fracture

Recovery from a concussion can be very difficult. This is a growing field with many new techniques and advancements coming out all the time. Mix this with old school ideas of resting in a dark room for weeks on end and patients are often left confused and with little hope or optimism for their future! This page is dedicated to those people who are feeling lost and looking for guidance on how to regain a normal life again following a concussion injury.

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