Concussions occur more commonly in conjunction with injuries than expected.This is when the brain experiences a trauma related to an intense knock or vibration, which can happen as a direct hit to the head, or, indirectly a blow to the body.
How do concussions occur?
Concussions can happen anywhere especially when taking part in high contact sports and activities or simply just accidentally hitting your head. Concussions are a serious injury, as they have long lasting effects on the brain and its processes. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are a more severe form of a concussion which cause significant effects on individuals.
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
Concussions and TBI have a significant impact on the functioning of the brain, causing a variety of symptoms such as:
Reduced motor skills
Sensitivity to light
Lack of coordination
The variety of symptoms can have an alarming impact on everyday life, with many people who have suffered from concussion or TBI having severe symptoms for months after the initial accident.
What happens when you get a concussion?
Concussions can be debilitating and difficult at times, usually worse than the actual injury that caused the concussion itself.
There are a few side effects or symptoms (as above), which you may experience within minutes or it could be hours after the accident or impact to your head. The severity of the concussion can be determined by how intense the symptoms or side effects are and/or how long they last for.
You may also notice some difference in your vision after suffering a concussion or TBI, such as:
Disrupted focussing abilities
Sensitivity to light (which could include headaches)
Distorted vision (e.g. vision doubling)
After experiencing any type of impact or trauma to the head, it’s crucial to seek medical attention. This could be your doctor or nearest accident and emergency clinic.
At OCULA, we care about you and your eyes. We offer a focal-neuro examination - performed by our specialised behavioural optometrist in Wanaka - to assess your vision as a result of the concussion or head trauma.
Behavioural optometry is a specialised field which focuses on how the brain processes what the eyes are seeing. Also known as neurodevelopmental or functional optometry, it is a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates the physical, neurological, and developmental aspects of vision.
Your optometrist will create a tailor-made plan, based on their assessment, which may involve working with a team of specialists in different fields.
We have a close network of specialists and healthcare professionals - including doctors, speech language therapists, occupational therapists and psychologists - whom we work with, based on your needs.
Even a mild concussion can cause serious visual function issues such as blurred or double vision, Headaches associated with reading and light sensitivity. These problems go ‘hand-in-glove’ with the specialised treatment a behavioural optometrist can offer, which encompasses retraining the brain by utilising techniques that include glasses and/or vision therapy.
Simply put, it is a series of specific activities to help a person to learn, observe and change their visual process. Contrary to its name, it is not just eye exercises. The key purpose of vision therapy is to help the brain talk to the eyes in the most effective way possible, and involves use of the entire body through speaking, writing, or physical movement.
Many concussions are accidental and so, unfortunately can’t be prevented. But what you can do is be prepared. With many contact sports there is protective equipment and gear that’s recommended; especially when it comes to protecting your head from TBIs and concussions.
It’s most important when you’re riding your bike that you wear your helmet, and when you’re skiing or snowboarding that you're wearing a helmet as well as googles (to avoid snow blindness), for example.
Even though concussions are accidental, you can prepare yourself by wearing the correct protective gear if you’re going to be involved in any high-contact activity. This can mean the difference between a mild concussion and a serious, long-term injury.
Do I need to see an optometrist for my concussion?
Yes, if there is a disconnect between the visual system and the brain (caused by a head injury) the effects can be dramatic. Even a mild concussion can cause serious visual function issues such as blurred or double vision, or headaches associated with reading and light sensitivity. These problems go ‘hand-in-glove’ with the specialised treatment a behavioural optometrist can offer, which encompasses retraining the brain by utilising techniques that include glasses and/or vision therapy.
I'm already seeing a specialist, why should I see you as well?
With a concussion, even a mild one, there are multiple puzzle pieces that need to slot into place to ensure a return to health. Often a quicker and more complete recovery can be attributed to a multidisciplinary approach. We work with a close network of psychologists, doctors, health care professionals, speech language therapists and occupational therapists to build a management plan tailor-made for your specific situation.
Can I play sports after a concussion?
Yes, of course. But it’s best to take a break from any physical activity for at least two weeks after the injury has occurred.
What happens if someone is unconscious after a head injury?
This is the most dangerous symptom of a concussion and could potentially be the sign of a more serious head injury. Call an ambulance or take them to a hospital immediately.
Is it true that someone shouldn’t sleep after a concussion?
No, this is a myth. Unless the person was unconscious after being concussed, it’s okay to fall asleep after the initial assessment by a trained medical professional or Doctor is complete.
What is the recommended recovery time?
Depending on how mild or severe the concussion is, recovery can take anywhere between a few days and weeks to a few months.
I don't understand, how can an optometrist treat my concussion?
A behavioural optometrist has the capability to delve more into the brain-eye connection, and we have a specialist at our Wanaka practice. And with a head injury or concussion it is this connection that can be damaged, but also (in most cases) corrected with the specific type of treatment a behavioural optometrist offers.