A young woman grimaces as she holds her head

There is debate in the neuroscience world over whether concussions should be considered neurological disorders or not. By defining both terms and understanding what conditions qualify as a concussion or neurological disorder, one can take a stand in the debate more easily.

At Carolina Brain Center, we are willing to get into the semantics of concussions and neurological disorders to educate our prospective patients. Specifically, we are aiming to answer the question of is a concussion a neurological disorder. Read on for more information and our ultimate decision on whether a concussion is a neurological disorder.

What is a Concussion?

Concussions are a common type of head injury that occurs when the brain is rapidly shifted back and forth. This can happen as a result of a blow to the head or a sudden jolt or impact. Concussions are often referred to as mild traumatic brain injuries because they are usually not life-threatening and do not involve structural damage to the brain.

While they often are managed quickly and easily by simple methods of medication and therapy, minor concussions can add up and cause significant damage, especially when they go untreated. 

Concussion Symptoms

Concussion sufferers, in severe cases, may lose consciousness upon their heads being contacted. Other concussion symptoms include a loss of concentration, memory, and balance. Concussions, in both the immediate aftermath and recovery process, are somewhat uncomfortable and must be dealt with in a timely fashion.

Contact sports are the driving factor behind many concussions. Not giving your injuries the appropriate amount of time to heal can result in even worse symptoms and compounding brain damage. This building damage can have profound, negative implications for the sufferer in the long term and leave them at risk for advanced cognitive troubles.

Post-Concussion Syndrome

One of the most significant concerns with a concussion is the potential for post-concussion syndrome (PCS), which can occur in some people after a head injury. PCS is a collection of symptoms that persist for weeks, months, or even years after the initial injury. These symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, fatigue, irritability, and depression.

While most people recover from a concussion within a few weeks, those with PCS may experience ongoing symptoms that can impact their daily lives. Researchers are still working to understand why some people develop PCS while others do not. It is thought that factors such as the severity of the injury, the age of the person, and their previous history of head injuries may play a role.

What is a Neurological Disorder?

An older person holds their headSo, we know that concussions are a type of brain injury, but what are neurological disorders? A neurological disorder is an attack on the human body’s nervous system. The neurological aspect of these diseases comes into play because the nervous system is centered in the brain and spinal cord. Most neurological disorders are relatively rare and are defined by severe symptoms such as paralysis and loss of feeling.

Patients and concussion neurologists often have their work cut out when dealing with a neurological disorder. Many patients with neurological disorders receive specific care out of necessity due to nerve damage. While there are some more common neurological diseases, the status of concussions as a neurological disorder is a source of debate.

Is Post-Concussion Syndrome a Neurological Disorder?

Some experts argue that concussions are a type of brain injury and should be classified as such, while others believe that the effects of a concussion are temporary and do not meet the criteria for a neurological disorder.

One of the arguments for classifying concussions as a neurological disorder is that they can cause long-term changes in brain function. Studies have shown that people who have had a concussion may be more likely to develop cognitive problems later in life, such as memory loss and difficulty concentrating.

However, by the definitions typically laid out by medical professionals, concussions are not neurological disorders. Concussions are more distinct in their cause than the structural damage they cause. The blunt force that creates a concussion is the defining feature of the injury instead of the collateral nerve damage that may come about.

Regardless, concussions do cause dysfunction in how the brain is working. Most commonly there is dysfunction in the visual and/or the vestibular systems, the autonomic nervous system, in the metabolic aspect of cell function, and in cognitive function. Therefore, at Carolina Brain Center, we work on the premise that PCS is indeed a neurological disorder.

Find Concussion Treatment at Carolina Brain Center

At Carolina Brain Center, we use functional neurology to help patients with PCS by identifying the underlying causes of their symptoms and developing individualized treatment plans to address those causes. Our initial exam process runs two hours in duration and includes 6 different diagnostic tests, a bedside examination, and a review of systems. We also offer neurocognitive testing that is done in the privacy of your own home in about 70 minutes. By focusing on the functional aspects of the nervous system rather than simply treating symptoms, we can help patients achieve long-term improvement in their quality of life.

We are known for our high-quality services and care plans in Raleigh, North Carolina. Among the most exciting innovations we offer are the GyroStim and HBOT services. If you are interested in these services, you can find more information about each of these services on our website.

If you or a loved one is suffering from concussion symptoms or what appears to be nerve damage, reach out to the concussion neurologists at Carolina Brain Center. Give us a call for more information on the solutions we offer.