My daughter got a severe concussion at the Spokane Horse Trials. I don’t tell you this for drama, empathy or advice. It’s a diagnosed fact at this point and we’re dealing with the symptoms – dizziness, fatigue, feeling overwhelmed by noise and lights. I know of at least two people who had them at Aspen and someone who has been dealing with symptoms since June.
Every bit of research tells us concussions are serious. I don’t need to point out the facts or call your attention to CTE. Nor do I need to mention riders who were concussed and are no longer with us. What I DO want to point out is that research shows us that mindfulness can be effective and powerful with concussion recovery.
Most people recover from a concussion quickly and return to “normal” life. Some people don’t. They end up with a thing called Post Concussion Syndrome or PCS. It’s when symptoms persist beyond the two weeks of typical recovery. Some of the risk factors include:
- Being female
- Severity of impact
- History of concussions
*see a full list and the whole article here
How many female riders do you know who have fallen off and gotten a concussion? It’s not a low number.
What often happens is that the amygdala is impacted with a concussion- where self control is managed in the brain – and in post recovery, it puts someone at a higher risk with PCS for anxiety and depressive symptoms, ie. worrying about falling again, depression about not being able to ride, replaying the fall, anxiety about future falls, etc.
How would you NOT worry about those things?
Here is where I get excited as a coach. Mindfulness rewires the brain for better emotional control. Remember, mindfulness is about PRESENT moment. What the above article shows us is that “meditation strengthens the assessment center of the brain (the lateral prefrontal cortex), which engages in logical reasoning and rational thought, and weakens the fear centre of the brain (the amygdala) that responds with fear and anger.”
And in case you think it’s just researchers reporting this information, this writer talks about having four different concussions from age 16 to 30. Hadley Pierce clearly states how easy it is to get stuck in the loop of focusing on the past and feeling fear about the future. She used mindfulness to help with depressive symptoms. Read the whole article here.
This quote really jumped out at me…
*Photo Credit: Momentmeditation.com
Finally, if you think, “All of this sounds great but how do I meditate or do mindfulness exactly?” Great question. You can start working with someone who focuses on mindfulness, start a mindfulness practice using Apps (Simple Habit, Headspace are two of my favorites) or follow these really SIMPLE instructions here.
The best thing about discovering this is that mindfulness both helps us be present – both riding and in life – and helps us recover from brain injury. That’s HUGE!
It’s the offseason, if you’d like to know more and find out about mindfulness practice, please send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text me 253-409-4010
Quiet your mind. Sharpen your focus. Ride to your peak performance
Lori Kimmerly, LMFT, ACC