If you or a loved one is a senior who has suffered a brain injury, prompt and appropriate medical care is essential. It isn’t always easy to spot signs of trouble related to concussion, especially in cases where dementia, side-effects from medication or another condition affect the individual’s ability to communicate. Nausea, dizziness, fainting, problems with motor control and balance or blurred vision are some signs to watch for. It’s better to seek emergency medical support right away in the case of concussion rather than take a ‘wait and see’ approach.

Following immediate medical care, it’s a good idea for seniors who’ve suffered a head injury to be evaluated by a functional neurologist. CAT scans and follow up MRIs are designed to screen for fractures, bleeding or swelling as a result of brain injury—generally, things that must be surgically addressed. Most brain injuries however are mild, and the type of damage they involve won’t be visible on CAT scans or MRIs. Instead, what’s needed is much more sensitive screening, such as the type of testing functional neurologists include in their concussion evaluations.

Functional neurology focuses on identifying specific areas of damage to the brain or brain function, and then promoting recovery and healing through customized care. Extremely sensitive, in-depth diagnostic testing can detect even subtle changes that may affect how an individual feels. Concussion may result in symptoms right away such as headache or fatigue, but it can also lead to long-term cognitive impairment or disruptions in brain-body connections. Symptoms can arise and linger long after the injury occurs.

Post-concussion symptoms can have a negative impact on quality of life in multiple ways. Symptoms such as brain fog or fatigue may lead to the avoidance of social environments or activities that seniors normally find stimulating and beneficial to their mood. Physical symptoms can further isolate individuals, as dizziness or balance problems may prompt them to remain indoors and stay at home.

An examination by a functional neurologist can help the elderly minimize the risk of future health problems. An evaluation of the vestibular system and proper care can minimize the risk of future falls and other potential accidents. Brain injuries often result in damage to the vestibular system, which helps the brain control where the body is spatially. Symptoms of damage may include dizziness, disorientation or nausea. Standard health care may not detect damage to the vestibular system that often results in debilitating symptoms. A functional neurology exam is comprehensive. Nothing will be missed.

A functional neurologist will identify the nature and extent of any imbalances or dysfunctions resulting from concussion. Safe, natural therapeutic support that is customized can then bring relief from concussion symptoms—even ones an individual may have struggled with for years. The focus is on helping the brain and body recover and heal, so improvements are long-term solutions.