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Concussions and head / brain injuries

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#1
Alberto

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We started talking about concussions and recovery in this thread:

https://mazdaracers....ce/#entry114979

 

A few people mentioned having sustained concussions or head / brain injuries so thought it might be useful to share experiences and recovery tips.  

 

I'm 3 months into recovery and still have some minor nagging issues but am almost there.  Will post more later.  For a while, I thought I was going to stuck in a state where my brain didn't work properly.  Scary shit....


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#2
Tom Hampton

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Not sure what the question or topic really is? I've had too many, all when I was much younger.

But, not as many as some.

Once upon a time I was supposed to participate in a research study on post concussion symptoms. Never finished the paperwork though.

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#3
av8tor

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I worked in the Wounded Warrior Battalion for 4 years towards the end of my USMC career. We learned a lot about traumatic brain injuries. The science behind brain injuries is amazingly nascent, with a huge volume of work being done in the last 10 yrs. The biggest take away I have from countless lectures and white papers is that when you play contact sports, fly fighter jets, race cars, fight in wars etc, you will bruise your brain. The #1 thing you can do to prevent a lasting debilitating injury is to let your brain heal. That means following even the most minor of hard impacts you need to spend 8-10 days just relaxing. People too often think that means, no more racing / riding / fighting / flying / etc. But it goes much deeper. The more activity your brain has to process, the less you are relaxing and the more long term damage you are causing. Also, I am shocked by the number of people who don't understand helmet science. As you all know when you drive a Miata your head is bouncing off the bars in almost every turn. You need to use the bar padding that is multi density, (soft over hard) and you need a helmet that can soften all those hundreds of not so hard hits. I have not been able to find quantitative data from auto racing, but the NFL in conjunction with the military has done a lot of helmet testing and they found in several cases, the composite super hard helmets (read FIA 8860 type carbon fiber) they were using performed far worse than heavier, more padded fiberglass and kevlar helmets in dissipating the constant "less than catastrophic" impacts football players and tank operators encounter. I encourage you all to learn more by reading real science and don't start randomly encouraging the clubs to mandate FIA 8860 helmets.


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#4
scott sanda

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Carrick brain center, Dr Carrick himself, and his disciples. 

 

I learned a lot when my 8th grade son ended up in the pediatric ICU due to 2 concussions, 5 months apart, and the second one (playing football) was a glancing blow. He developed "Disautonomia"  also known as POTS (positional orthopedic tachycardia), and missed a year of school.

 

Current state of the art treats the symptoms, These guys  have figured out how to help treat the causes and rewire the damages.   it looks like Voodoo, but it works.  Connor is healthy, has no symptoms, and is racing due to them. It took 4 years for him to fully recover.  I literally watched them take connor from a state where he could not stand, or speak due to an "attack", and in 15 minutes have him stable and coherent without medication of any kind.  Recovery from a "bad" concussion can literally take years if it generates follow on issues.

 

They work on Pro athletes all the time, and Dr Carrick spent (and spends) a lot of time working with the Military on TBI recovery.  

 

Over the past 8 years of Coaching Rugby, I have had  kids get concussions, and several of them went to see the local Carrick guy, with excellent results. I have had parents get mad at me because I would not let little Johnny play without a proper recovery and return to contact period, and because I have sat kids who "got there bell rung". 

 

Hell, I have played nothing but contact sports, and I ran around in an armored vehicle for 3 years, and until my son's issues, I never realized how lucky I had been, because I did everything wrong, and didn't pay the price.

 

av8tor is 100% correct on the helmets and the padding, and on the initial recovery.   Don't watch TV, don't read, don't use a computer. Relax and heal. Everyone is different, but the basics apply all the time.  It may be 3 days, it may be 10 days for the initial recovery.  it will be multiple weeks if not months for "full" recovery.

 

it is scary stuff when you really look at it.   And yes, some people concuss easily, some do not, and it changes over time. Medical science has not figured out why yet.

 

The number one cause of serious TBI/Effects from a concussion is sustaining a second one before the damage from the first heals.   You can be mildly concussed, and even a minor hit can cause a cascade.

 

It is not something to take lightly, and it is why most youth sports now have a multi week "return to contact" protocol that starts after the initial recovery period.

 

Hans, Helmet and proper Roll bar padding are the holy trinity.    Right side nets and head containment is also vital.

 

This is also why it is highly important to replace a helmet, or at least have it re lined after a hit.  You compromise the cushioning effect even if you cannot see any damage with the naked eye.


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#5
Tom Sager

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We started talking about concussions and recovery in this thread:

https://mazdaracers....ce/#entry114979

 

A few people mentioned having sustained concussions or head / brain injuries so thought it might be useful to share experiences and recovery tips.  

 

I'm 3 months into recovery and still have some minor nagging issues but am almost there.  Will post more later.  For a while, I thought I was going to stuck in a state where my brain didn't work properly.  Scary shit....

Hope you feel fully recovered soon. 


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#6
Brandon

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We started talking about concussions and recovery in this thread:

https://mazdaracers....ce/#entry114979

 

A few people mentioned having sustained concussions or head / brain injuries so thought it might be useful to share experiences and recovery tips.  

 

I'm 3 months into recovery and still have some minor nagging issues but am almost there.  Will post more later.  For a while, I thought I was going to stuck in a state where my brain didn't work properly.  Scary shit....

 

Having suffered two within 6 months of each other, I don't know why I seemingly recovered relatively quickly and here, 15 months on from the first, I can't say I've experienced any lingering effects of either.

 

For the second one, it was described by a teammate as I was "looking through them" when I got out of the car and I did make a trip to the hospital for that one.

 

I don't remember the ride or the CT scan but do remember suddenly being in the ER still in my driving suit with my friends there, and one holding my helmet (don't remember why). After watching the in-car video of the impact a few days later, I was reminded of the events leading up to it and the regaining of consciousness after coming to a stop. It's pretty wild to see your thumb twitch and wiggle while you know no one's home. Best guess was I was attempting to trigger the PTT to reply to our crew chief who was in my ear asking "Where are you Brandon?"

 

Speaking of home, getting that was interesting as I agreed driving myself home wouldn't be recommended so that required getting a ride from a teammate and finding a place to store my vehicle. So outside of coordinating that, and updating the wife who wasn't there (and being very concerned for obvious reasons as she was out of town herself), recovery for me was no more than "Hey boss, got my bell rung Saturday. Last time this happened I got a ride home from a coworker that Monday so I'm going to work from home until I'm comfortable to drive. Cool?"

 

Less than a couple days later I was back to as normal as an absentminded midlife male can be. Though I do recall having some short-term memory issues for a few weeks longer (the typical "go into a room and forget why you're there" but more frequently and unexplainable why you forgot), there wasn't anything more lingering than I can claim.

 

Sorry you're still experiencing issues Alberto.


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#7
Alberto

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^You were lucky with that I suppose. I'm envious.  :)

 

I started to finally feel better in Dec.  Still have a lingering issue with trying to walk on a treadmill.  The up and down action makes me dizzy for a bit.  Now that holidays are over and I'm back home, I need to get back to the gym to try and see if the treadmill is still causing issues.  If not, perhaps I try and push myself to do elliptical or stair climber to try and trigger any adverse effects.  The brain needs to be pushed to experience these actions and learn ways of managing it.  Neuro Plasticity and all that.

 

I hit the wall pretty hard.  The event coverage in the local SCCA rag described it as a hard hit and dislodging the tire wall.  Something like 3Gs according to a rocket scientist friend who looked at my data.  I remember my face compressing the comfy lining of my helmet and then blacked out for a few tenths of a second then came to with a jolt when my car bounced back onto the track surface.  I wanted to continue racing and would have attempted to if the tie rod hadn't snapped.  

 

I basically slept for the first two weeks.  After that, I tired out very easily and could not make rational decisions and was very forgetful.  Also difficult translating thoughts into words.  It was worrisome for a while.  Was afraid I'd be a mental invalid or something.  "Physical" therapy in the neurological division helped greatly.  Thankfully, I have health insurance.  

 

I'm going to try karting soon to see how I feel and then try a track day (once the car is fixed) to see if I'm ready to race.  If I have any adverse reactions, I'll skip this season. 

 

2 positive outcomes of this:

1. I no longer enjoy catching a buzz so I'm drinking a lot less.  Having a concussion is kinda like having a bad buzz non-stop - for me anyway...

2. Started exercising regularly again as the increased blood flow to the brain helps recovery - and general coordination.

 

 

Some additional takeaways:

I hadn't thought about replacing the helmet but I will now that scott and av8tor mentioned it. 

I need to recheck my HNR to ensure that it is set properly.

I'm going to try and move the seat inward and probably buy a notch panel so I can get more room between my head and the padded downtube.

 

Recovery tips:

rest and take time off

get into some sort of neuro pt where they can provide movements to help your brain adapt and heal

exercise - lightly at first


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#8
Steve Scheifler

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Quite the ordeal, thanks for sharing. It is my understanding that the worse the concussion the longer one should be not just physically but also mentally laid up, avoiding complex and high concentration thinking. That surprised me, proving just how little I know about how the brain works and recovers from injury.

Your impact was likely WAY more than 3gs, likely closer to 30 and possibly more.
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