Most people don’t automatically think, hey I need to seek clinical counselling for my concussion-which is totally fair. Physiotherapy, maybe a specialist, those are the typical steps we take to deal with post-concussion syndrome and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). These are certainly important for the physical recovery. Sometimes, more comes up than just physical symptoms when it comes to concussions.
First, here are a few concussion facts:
- They are typically underdiagnosed – many people will have a concussion that isn’t diagnosed, especially after a car accident. Unless it is very evident (more severe symptoms), concussion are frequently not diagnosed by medical doctors.
- They are cumulative – if you’ve had a concussion once, you are more prone to get another in the future. Often the more concussions there are, the worse the symptoms can be, even if they are still not severe.
- The brain takes at least 2 years to heal – I know that’s scary to hear, and it doesn’t mean that you’ll experience symptoms the whole time, rather, it just means it takes that long for it to be back to where it was before the injury.
- Concussion symptoms include physical problems, cognitive problems, and emotional problems – like I said, physical is usually what people seek help for, but the other two are just as important to treat.
Cognitive issues that frequently accompany concussions (and may be signs of a concussion) are difficulties with memory (“where did I put my keys” is happening more than it used to); and difficulties with concentration and focus. This is sometimes accompanied by restlessness. Emotional issues that accompany concussions include changes in mood, more anxiety, frustration with yourself, and an identity crisis. The identity crisis usually means you’re worried and stressed that you will never be the same or that your life can’t be good even if some of the symptoms do last awhile.
Counselling can address both cognitive and emotional difficulties. Mindfulness practices have been shown in a multitude of research to help with memory and concentration following a brain injury, though this does require regular practice. Your counsellor can help teach you mindfulness skills (not just meditation) to help you strengthen and heal faster. Talk therapy and coping skills are helpful for emotional regulation, reducing anxiety, being kinder to yourself and resolving those big questions and fears that come with identity crises.
Remember, that these issues are common and not a sign that there is something wrong with you. They are a sign that you have an injury and there are many allied healthcare professionals, like a counsellor, that can help you. You don’t have to do it alone.