The 6 Concussion Symptoms You Should NOT Ignore

Brain injuries are much in the news — and for good reason. Recent research shows that even a single concussion can have long term health consequences, such as structural brain damage. Brain damage can lead to depression and anxiety as well as a host of other symptoms including chronic headaches, memory issues, inability to control emotions, and lifelong concentration problems.

In a recent U.S. survey of more than 3,000 men and women, 23% said they had suffered at least one concussion during their lives. Researchers believe that percentage is low, as many symptoms are subtle or develop over time, making a diagnosis difficult.

“Another problem,” says Leanne O’Neil, owner of INDY Neurofeedback, “is there is no definitive, conclusive exam to diagnose a concussion. It often doesn’t show up on an MRI or a CT scan, so recognizing the symptoms is extremely important so you can get needed help as soon as possible to minimize the risk of lasting consequences.”

Here’s what to look for. Chances are you have a concussion if:

  1. You black out. If you black out even for a second or two, chances are you have a concussion, especially if you are disoriented and don’t remember how you got on the ground. Strangely though, being knocked out doesn’t mean you have a more severe concussion than if you weren’t unconscious.
  2. You have a headache that won’t go away. A pressure headache that won’t go away or gets worse when you lie down means blood flow to the brain has been affected. Doing mental or physical activities that bring more blood into the brain will also cause pain.
  3. You have trouble focusing your eyes. Double or blurry vision is a symptom, as is light sensitivity.
  4. You feel dizzy, off balance or feel sick to your stomach. If your head is spinning and you’re stumbling around, those are red flags. Even more subtle symptoms like feeling unsteady on your feet can indicate a brain injury.
  5. You feel foggy or confused. Having trouble remembering things, being unable to concentrate, or having more trouble than usual organizing tasks, solving problems, or making decisions are all signs that you’ve injured your brain.
  6. You feel lethargic and listless, or anxious and irritable. It takes a lot of energy to heal an injured brain. It’s very common to feel drowsy, lethargic, or irritable.

If you believe you or someone you care about has a concussion, take it seriously and trust your instincts.

Rest physically and cognitively during the first 48 hours or longer, depending on how you feel. Find someone to stay with you if you live alone, in case you develop symptoms of a life-threatening hematoma, characterized by loss of consciousness, inability to awaken, and/or severe headaches.

“Bottom line,” cautions Leanne, “If you’ve hit your head hard and have any of the symptoms listed above, chances are you have a concussion and should contact your doctor.”

INDY Neurofeedback can help re-train brains which suffer the lingering effects of concussion – even years after the injury. But first, you must recognize the symptoms and get medical help. The sooner, the better.

Your Very Active, Unconscious Brain

Whether you are asleep or wide awake, your brain is always active.

Even when your body rests deeply in a coma — supposedly beyond the reach of feeling and thought — your brain is hard at work commanding the systems that are pumping blood through your body, moving air into an out of your lungs, and making sure your digestive system is processing food. Most likely, we now know, your brain is doing even more than that.

Research shows that the supposedly unconscious brain can indeed register sensations, store memories, and is where 99.9% of our mind activity resides. Even at root level (unconsciousness), our brain stores our thoughts along with perceptions and emotions, impacting what we say, think and do.

In studies at the University of California San Francisco, some sedated patients could, upon awakening, repeat word-for-word what doctors said while they were under sedation, indicating the brain may even be aware of its surroundings while anesthetized.

We know our brains work differently when under anesthesia and other drug-induced altered states. We also know those states are very different from the dreaming brain. And very different from an awake brain.

It is difficult to define consciousness. That’s why scientists studying the brain are turning their attention to brain connectivity rather than studying individual regions of the brain for clues to consciousness. When researchers track the way sensory signals (brain neural impulses) travel from one part of a conscious brain to another, these signals jump to many different parts of the brain. However, when the brain is unconscious, the signals don’t hop around. Instead, they tend to stay put and gradually fade.

This may mean that consciousness is more a matter of internal brain communication rather than information processing. And some brains, researchers are finding, are better about communicating information internally than others.

We are fascinated by just about everything related to brains here at INDY Neurofeedback. If you want to see how the connectivity in your brain is working and want to keep your brain in peak condition, give us a call.

12 Facts you Probably Didn’t Know About Your Brain

At INDY Neurofeedback, we are completely fascinated with understanding how the brain functions.

But we don’t study the brain just to understand it better. We use technology and neurofeedback to help people learn more about their individual brain function to help them use their brains more effectively and productively.

For instance, INDY Neurofeedback can help people overcome behavior issues from brain injuries, or help people stop repetitive or compulsive behaviors, bad habits, or overcome fears. Using neurofeedback, we can also help improve the quality of sleep, and help with anger and stress management. We can also help with chronic pain management, and help those with ADHD and autism symptoms.

Here are some interesting facts about our amazing brains and brain function. Did you know, for example, that:

  • Babies are born with all the neurons they will ever have?
  • An entire area of the brain is devoted to hearing consonants?
  • Your brain burns 20 percent of your body’s oxygen and glucose?
  • Your brain requires about 20 watts of electric power – about the energy as a household light bulb?
  • Completely different parts of the brain are responsible for determining quantity (how many) and volume (how much)?
  • Unconsciousness occurs eight-to-ten seconds after loss of blood supply to the brain?
  • Everyone, including the deaf, use the left hemisphere to process language?
  • You are more likely to remember something if the experience combines information and emotion?
  • There are special grid cells in the brain that help you navigate?
  • Seeing someone in distress triggers mirror neurons in your brain to feel similar emotions?
  • The part of your brain that recognizes an object is different from the part in your brain that locates it?
  • Reflex responses such as a knee jerk, come from the spinal cord, not the brain?

INDY Neurofeedback is here to help your brain responsiveness by helping you retrain the way you think, react, recall, and respond. If you have a question about your own condition or concern, we’re happy to activate our brains and listen to you!

Your Brain and Memories

Do you remember watching the video of that first passenger plane crashing into the World Trade Tower over and over again the day of September 11th, 2001? Most of us think that’s what we saw as we learned of the attacks. But most of us have remembered this incorrectly.

Because we saw that footage hundreds of times, it’s what we associate with that day. But the fact is, we did not actually see that plane crash footage until more than 24 hours after the attack occurred because it wasn’t released to the public until the afternoon of September 12th.

So if our memories cannot actually be completely trusted, what’s going on here? Quite a lot, actually.

It turns out that scientists have long known that recording a memory takes more than filing away a thought. Recording a memory requires adjusting the connections between our neurons – and we have a lot of those – 100 billion neurons in all. Each and every one of our memories adjusts a tiny subset of the neurons in the brain, changing the way they communicate.

Then those changed neurons need to send messages to one another across narrow gaps called synapses. A synapse is much like a busy mail center, complete with machinery for sending and receiving letters — our neurotransmitters — specialized chemicals that convey signals between neurons

Eric Kandel is a 2000 Nobel laureate neuroscientist at Columbia University in New York City who has done five decades of groundbreaking memory research. Kandel has shown how short-term memories—those lasting a few minutes—involve relatively quick and simple chemical changes to the synapse that make it work more efficiently. He proved that to build a memory that lasts hours, days or years, neurons must manufacture new proteins and expand the associations between other neurons to make the neurotransmitter memory stick and be retrievable.

Long-term memories must literally be cemented into the brain’s synapses with many, many neuro associations over time. Kandel calls this long term memory “consolidation.”

We tend to think that our memory system works something like a journal entry. Before the ink dries, it’s possible to smudge what’s written. But after the memory is written down (consolidated), it changes very little. Yes, memories tend to fade over the years, but under ordinary circumstances the content stays the same. But Kandel’s research challenges these assumptions.

Kandel found that a memory could be weakened by any sort of trauma. In animal testing, if an electric shock or a drug that interferes with a particular neurotransmitter was administered just after a lab rat was prompted to recall a memory (lab maze), the memory (the maze run) became disjointed. This suggested that memories were vulnerable to disruption even after they had been consolidated.

He also proved that memories are not consolidated just once, when they are first created. Instead, they need to be at least partially rebuilt every time they are recalled. That means that recollections can be swayed by intense emotions, misleading information, hearing another version of the same story, trauma, and many other brain interruptions. Kandel’s experiments and other scientists research suggested that memory can easily be distorted without people realizing it.

People do tend to have accurate memories for the basic facts of a momentous event, for example, that a two planes were careened into the World Trade Towers. But we quite often misremember smaller details around the momentous ones. In this example, television and other media coverage reinforce the central facts. But recalling personal memory experience allows distortions to creep in. Our memories become malleable, with whatever is present around you interfering with the original content of the memory.

“This may be a big part of the reason why,” suggests Leanne O’Neil of INDY Neurofeedback, “that family members witnessing the same family event, often remember it very differently. It’s also why those dealing with traumatic stress around a memory may have trouble remembering details. Strong emotions can absolutely affect or change the way our memories work.”

Just one season of football adversely affects a child’s brain development

Football and its relationship to brain health is still very much in the news. In fact, a new study found youth and high school football players who were hit in the head frequently showed signs of damage to their brain development after just one season of playing the sport!

“Football,” said Leanne O’Neil, “is absolutely dangerous to the brain – more so if you are a growing child. We see many football-related injuries here at INDY Neurofeedfack. It’s very troubling.”

In the new study presented at the Radiological Society of North America’s (RSNA) annual meeting, researchers observed 60 youth and high school football players over a single football season. None had prior concussions or histories of developmental, neurological or psychiatric problems.

Twenty-four players were determined to be high-impact players while 36 were placed in a low-impact group (based on each player’s risk of cumulative head impact exposure) according to the Head Impact Telemetry System (HITS), which helps collect data through sensors on the players’ helmets. Most impacts to the head occurred during practice, rather than at actual football games.

Those who experienced a high number of head impacts showed changes in brain pruning, a decrease in gray matter, which controls actions like motor, sensory movements and speech.

“A noticeable disruption in normal pruning means weaker connections between different parts of the brain,” says Leanne O’Neil. “This study found a significant decrease in gray matter pruning in the frontal default mode network of the brain. That’s the area involved in higher cognitive functions, such as planning and controlling social behaviors.”

In related research, the American Medical Association found that 177 former football players, ranging from high school to the NFL, showed some degree of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to frequent head trauma.

Another study by Scientific American looked at the long-term risks of playing football. The study found more than 40 percent of former NFL players showed signs of traumatic brain injury.

Still another study, reported by TIME magazine, predicted that children who played tackle football before the age of 12 and continued to play in high school would have trouble managing behavior later in life.

Schools, institutions, parents, and coaches are taking notice, and some amendments to football practice, such as reducing the number of contact drills and the National Football League’s recommendation of the elimination of the “running start,” could help decrease the chances of injury. That said, “No child should be at risk of getting hit in the head at full speed,” says O’Neil. “It’s simply too dangerous.”

Currently, the National Institute of Health (NIH) is in the process of requesting more funding to follow up with these players longitudinally, to see if there are any longterm effects.

Chris Nowinski, Ph.D and the CEO and co-founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, went on record to caution parents not to allow their children to play tackle football before high school. “The risks to brain development are simply not worth the perceived benefits,” Nowinski said.

Traumatic Brain Injuries – by the numbers

Because of the way the brain is housed in the cranium, explains Leanne O’Neil of INDY Neurofeedback, an impact from almost any direction can cause damage. Although the brain is incredibly resilient, is it also quite susceptible to injury.

Even relatively minor brain trauma can cause lasting damage, often manifesting in headaches, slurred speech, depression and/or anxiety, fatigue, dizziness, mood changes, or irritability. Sometimes after a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) symptoms may be harder to pinpoint and diagnose, and may include reduced concentration, difficulty with memory retrieval, and poor organization and planning.

Here are some fairly startling TBI statistics in the U.S., gathered and published by WebMD:

  • 47% of brain injuries are attributed to falls, the leading cause of TBI.
  • 8 million Traumatic Brain Injuries were recorded in 2013, according to the most recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) data.
  • 153 deaths per day occur from injuries that include a brain injury.
  • 53,000 deaths are attributed to TBIs annually (CDC).
  • $400,000 is the average lifetime cost (per case) for a severe brain injury.
  • An estimated 3.2 to 5.3 million Americans are living with a TBI-related disability.
  • 47% increase in ER visits from TBIs from 2007 to 2013.
  • 70% of all sports and recreation-related brain injuries are reported in people ages 19 and younger.
  • 5% of high school athletes have had a concussion.
  • 5% of all high school athletes have reported more than one concussion.
  • 26,212 non-fatal bicycling-related brain injuries are reported annually.
  • 99% of NFL players in an autopsy brain donation program were diagnosed with brain damage after death.

Unfortunately, Traumatic Brain Injuries are on the rise across the U.S. And frequently, these injuries can be difficult to detect.

That is why INDY Neurofeedback was established; to provide a non-medical way to help those suffering with brain injuries re-gain lost brain function. If you suspect your (or a family member’s) symptoms may be the result of a Traumatic Brain Injury, we are here to help.


From Facts and Stats on Trending Health Topics, Matt McMillen,, September 2018.

Brain scans suggest soccer is riskier for female brains

We’ve long heard about head trauma due to playing rough sports like rugby and football. But what about soccer? Of particular concern is “heading”, or repeatedly using the head to forward the ball. Studies have found that frequent heading is a common and under-recognized cause of concussion symptoms and may actually cause more damage than the impact from unintentional head-to-head collisions.

Even more revealing, a new study from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York suggests that not only does heading put soccer players’ brains at risk, but that female players may be disproportionately at risk.

Using advanced MRI scanning, Einstein researchers carefully examined the brain scans of 49 men and 49 women, aged 18 to 50 with a median age of 26, who regularly played amateur soccer. Even though both sets of players had headed the ball roughly the same number of times, scans showed that the women had five times more brain tissue damage than the men. Even more surprising, there were more brain matter areas adversely affected in women than the men (eight regions of the brain for women and just three regions for men).

Why the disparity?

Precisely why women might be more sensitive to head injury than men is not known for certain. Researchers have speculated that because women have smaller, less muscular necks than men, heading may impart more rotational force to their heads, jarring the brain within the skull more.

The brain changes detected by the scans were categorized as ‘subclinical’ by the researchers, meaning they were not enough to alter thinking ability. Study researchers were quick to add, however, that subclinical changes are still cause for concern.

So what does this mean?

“The term ‘subclinical pathology’ is often applied before we detect enough brain damage to negatively affect brain function,” says Leanne O’Neil of INDY Neurofeedback. “What is important about this study is that men and women may need to be looked at differently. It makes good sense to identify the risk factors for cumulative brain injury, so those involved in any sport or activity can change their behavior to prevent further damage — and work to help their brains recover.”

What now?

Soccer coaches and researchers agree that a full understanding of the risks of heading while playing soccer will require further research.  In the meantime, O’Neil recommends monitoring brain health by getting a qEEG brain map at the beginning of the season and a follow up at the end.  All brains are unique and the brain’s ability to fully heal from each impact is individual.

Complete article available at


Sports and brain injuries

Bryan is a healthy, active eleven year old that loves sports of every kind. His mother, worried about all the recent news about football-related concussions, was relieved when Bryan chose to attend basketball camp rather than football camp this summer. Despite the seemingly safer choice, Bryan showed the classic signs of a closed head injury (brain trauma) after colliding head-to-head with another basketball player.

Would you know what to look for if your child sustained a closed head injury? It’s a fair question, according to INDY Neurofeedback owner Leanne O’Neil, “Especially since mild to moderate closed head injuries (in children and adults) often get misdiagnosed as something else.”

Contrary to popular opinion, you do not have to lose consciousness to have a serious brain injury. And even mild brain injuries (life’s head bumps) can have a lasting impact on brain function — and people’s lives. In fact, current research suggests that many cases of ADHD, epilepsy, hyperactivity, and/or aggressive behaviors are the result of undiagnosed head trauma.

Here are signs of a closed head injury:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor memory
  • Poor organization and/or planning
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Poor hearing
  • Slurred speech
  • Depression and/or anxiety

A quick look at the list makes it obvious why these types of injuries get misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. After all, what typical eleven year old doesn’t have occasional poor organization skills, irritability, mood swings or anxiety?

“Head injuries look different depending on the person and the type of trauma sustained,” says O’Neil. “Although the brain is incredibly resilient, it is also quite delicate, so almost any kind of blow can cause the brain to dysregulate. Through a qEEG brain map, INDY Neurofeedback can confirm the existence of dysregulated brainwave patterns and begin to provide training on how to correct the patterns.”

Restoring the brain’s normal rhythms can restore normal functioning health and behaviors. It is a completely non-invasive and drug-free approach to optimal brain functioning.

– the INDY Neurofeedback team