Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury, POTS, and Brain Function

Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury, POTS, and Brain Function

When you bump your noggin, it's not just a bump – it can stir up a real ruckus inside your brain. Today, we're talking about traumatic brain injury, POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), and how they mess with your brain's mojo.

Even The Little “Oops” Can Cause Damage

Your brain is a complicated organ - it accelerates, decelerates, and twists in a perfectly balanced harmony of nerves and tissues - and when what seems like a simple bump on the head happens, this can send the whole system rocking around in your skull. Because as much as your brain seems well protected in your skull, it’s really just floating around in cerebrospinal fluid - yes, literally. 

Your brain, currently, is floating around like there’s no gravity in your head, all thanks to that cerebrospinal fluid filling in the gap between your brain and your skull.

So a little “knock on the noggin” can rattle things around and damage axons and cause inflammation. But it doesn't stop there – it can also sprain and strain the nerves attached to your brain and the joints in your spine. 

All of this can lead to symptoms where your brain feels like it's out of whack, almost “fog like”, when processing specific info. Some folks may struggle more with thinking (cognitive bias), while others might face issues with the autonomic nervous system, vision, and more.

Supporting The Electrical System

Your brain is the fuse box to your body, similar to that little box in your laundry room at home. If a fuse trips in your bathroom, unplugging the hairdryer won't magically flip the fuse back. Instead, you need to flip the breaker. It's similar with your body. 

Which means when symptoms start showing up, the first thing we need to do is look for the root cause (and sharing with your doctor that bump on your head when you fell out of bed the other day can help to expedite this process).

Now, we might not remember all those minor tumbles and falls from childhood, but they can haunt us later in life. These tiny incidents can contribute to head injuries down the road. Chiropractors aim to address these issues, getting to the root of the problem. We start with conservative treatments before considering drugs or surgery.

Recognizing the Signs

How do you spot these brain hiccups? Look for changes – physical, emotional, or cognitive. Is there a sudden shift in balance? Odd behavior at school or work? Deteriorating grades, missed deadlines, or struggling to get started on new projects? Increased emotional outbursts? These can all be signs something might be amiss, especially if they’re sudden and new behaviors that are “out of character”.

Some of these symptoms could be temporary, but others can be indicative of longer term conditions that affect the autonomic system.

The autonomic system is the automatic part of your nervous system that controls things like heart rate, digestion, and breathing. When it acts up, it can cause all sorts of issues. POTS, short for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, is a common diagnosis. It involves changes in heart rate when you change position, often leading to dizziness and fainting, among other symptoms that can be similar to a concussion - partly, because, a concussion can actually be a precursor to a future POTS diagnosis.

Early Detection Matters

For young athletes, early detection is crucial. Keep an eye on any changes in their physical or emotional well-being. Addressing issues early can make a world of difference in their long-term health.

Now, how can we help kids build resilience against these challenges? First off, keep 'em moving! Engage in a wide variety of activities – sports, music, anything that gets those limbs and lungs working. An active lifestyle is a superhero when it comes to resilience.

And remember - it's not just about bumps and bruises – it's about understanding what's happening inside your noggin and taking the right steps to keep it in tip-top shape. If you want to learn more, dive into this podcast episode with Dr. Nathan Keiser DC, DACNB, FABBIR, a board certified chiropractic neurologist specializing in non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical treatment of dysautonomia, traumatic brain injury, and movement disorders.