Your brain is a soft and squishy organ surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and enclosed within a hard bony skull. The CSF provides a cushioning effect to the brain to protect it from any injury. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that happens due to a bump, a violent jolt or blow to the head, neck or jaw. In other words, it occurs when your brain bounces or jerks inside your skull or experiences a rapid or whiplash movement that makes the brain collide with the inside of your skull.
These sudden brain movements can stretch or damage the brain cells resulting in temporary chemical changes in the brain, that temporarily disrupt normal brain functioning. Concussions are not life-threatening and mostly resolve within 7 to 10 days of the injury. Sometimes though, the symptoms of concussion can persist for more than a few months or even as long as a year; this condition is referred to as chronic concussion or post-concussion syndrome.
Post-concussion syndrome is characterized by some common symptoms:
- Tension-type headaches or migraines
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Fatigue, weakness or drowsiness
- Nervousness, irritability and anxiety
- Insomnia (sleeplessness)
- Difficulty in paying attention and forgetfulness
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurry vision
- Noise and light sensitivity
Usually, the treatment for post-concussion syndrome is symptomatic, i.e. your doctor will treat a specific symptom such as headaches or anxiety with anti-migraine and antianxiety medications, respectively.
Meditation, yoga, and mindfulness‐based interventions
A recent study, published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, provides a systemic review of several published and unpublished studies to conclude the therapeutic effects of meditation, yoga, and mindfulness‐based interventions for post-concussion syndrome. The results from the studies showed that yoga and meditation were effective in reducing systemic inflammation. It also helped patients with psychological disorders like depression and anxiety by promoting self-compassion and reducing rumination.
The main outcome of the three mentioned interventions revealed a significant improvement in depression and fatigue, which is promising given that fatigue is one of the most challenging symptoms of chronic concussion. As a result, breathing exercises, meditation and mindful movement through yoga poses to strengthen certain brain pathways could be considered a rehabilitating treatment.
The study also suggested that practising yoga, meditation or mindfulness to treat a mild traumatic brain injury poses no risk of side effects and thus people with symptoms of chronic concussions could give it a try after consulting with their doctor.
The study recommends starting with basic meditation for as little as 10 minutes a day. People who cannot sit still for meditation can practice basic yoga poses. Deep breathing exercises could also be practised for improving the symptoms. These interventions may not be a miracle or an instant cure but they may slowly and steadily help in relieving the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome.
For more information, read our article on Concussion.
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