The Impact Test: Assessing Head Injuries

In the article “The Impact Test: Assessing Head Injuries,” you’ll find a comprehensive overview of the challenges in diagnosing and treating concussions and post-concussion syndrome. Neuroimaging modalities are showing promise in validating the effects of head injuries, but they are not widely available and still mostly used in research or specialty centers. Dr. Martin Rutherford and Dr. Randall Gates from Power Health in Reno, Nevada combine functional medicine and chiropractic neurology to address chronic conditions like concussions, aiming to provide a more holistic approach to treatment. The article also discusses the limitations of MRI and CT scans in diagnosing concussions and determining the extent of brain damage, as well as the importance of proper diagnosis and the need for better imaging techniques.

The Impact Test: Assessing Head Injuries


Head injuries, such as concussions, can have significant and long-lasting effects on individuals. However, diagnosing these injuries can be challenging as there is no definitive test for concussion diagnosis. In recent years, there have been advancements in neuroimaging techniques that show promise in validating the effects of head injuries. This article will explore the need for diagnostic tools, advancements in neuroimaging, the role of functional medicine and chiropractic neurology, limitations of traditional imaging techniques, emerging imaging techniques, clinical diagnosis of concussions, and the importance of rehabilitation and recovery.

The Need for Diagnostic Tools

The lack of a definitive test for concussion diagnosis poses a challenge in accurately assessing head injuries. Many patients with concussion symptoms have normal imaging results, which can leave them frustrated and seeking conclusive lab tests or imaging findings to confirm their condition. In the past, neurology relied heavily on imaging results to diagnose brain conditions, but research has shown limitations in using techniques like MRI and CT scans for concussion diagnosis. There is a growing need for better diagnostic tools to accurately identify concussions and provide proper treatment.

The Impact Test: Assessing Head Injuries

Advancements in Neuroimaging

Advancements in neuroimaging have shown promise in validating the effects of head injuries. Functional MRI (fMRI) imaging can measure blood flow in different parts of the brain and show how they respond to different tasks. This can help identify areas of the brain that may be affected by a concussion. Another imaging technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can show the damage to nerve pathways in the brain caused by rotational forces during a head injury. These neuroimaging modalities provide more detailed information about the brain and its functioning, which can aid in diagnosing and treating concussions.

Functional Medicine and Chiropractic Neurology

Functional medicine and chiropractic neurology offer a holistic approach to addressing chronic conditions like concussions. By combining these two disciplines, practitioners like Dr. Martin Rutherford and Dr. Randall Gates at Power Health in Reno, Nevada, aim to provide comprehensive care for their patients. Concussions are considered a chronic condition, and the traditional model of healthcare may not fully address the complex nature of these injuries. Functional medicine and chiropractic neurology offer alternative approaches to managing concussions and promoting brain health.

The Impact Test: Assessing Head Injuries

Limitations of Traditional Imaging Techniques

MRI and CT scans, which are commonly used imaging techniques, have shown to be ineffective in diagnosing concussions or determining the extent of brain damage. These techniques primarily provide gross details about the brain and may not show the intricate details necessary to assess the impact of a head injury. Furthermore, these imaging techniques may not be readily available to all patients and are often limited to research or specialty centers.

Emerging Imaging Techniques

Research is being conducted to develop better imaging techniques specifically for diagnosing and differentiating concussions from other brain conditions. The goal is to provide more detailed and accurate information about the brain and its functioning after a head injury. These emerging imaging techniques show promise in improving diagnosis and treatment outcomes for individuals with concussions.

The Impact Test: Assessing Head Injuries

Clinical Diagnosis of Concussions

Clinical diagnosis of concussions involves a thorough history and neurological examination. Additional tests may also be conducted, such as neuropsychological testing and oculomotor testing. These tests provide valuable information about cognitive functioning and eye movements, which can be affected by brain stem damage in concussions.

Neuropsychological Testing

Neuropsychological testing assesses cognitive functioning and helps determine the extent of brain damage caused by a head injury. This type of testing provides objective data about an individual’s cognitive abilities and helps healthcare professionals develop appropriate treatment plans. The impact test, in particular, is a commonly used neuropsychological assessment for assessing head injuries.

The Relationship Between Eye Movements and Concussions

The study of eye movements has shown promise in predicting post-concussion syndrome and indicating certain parts of the brain that may be affected by a head injury. Abnormal eye movements can be a useful indicator for healthcare professionals in assessing the severity of a concussion and developing appropriate treatment plans. Dr. Ellis and other researchers have focused on understanding eye movements and their relation to pediatric concussions, further validating the significance of eye movement testing in concussion diagnosis.

Rehabilitation and Recovery

After a head injury, rehabilitation plays a crucial role in improving brain function. Concussion patients may experience breakdown of the blood-brain barrier and gut barrier, leading to inflammatory responses and autoimmune issues. Therefore, addressing these barriers and promoting brain health becomes essential for successful recovery. Rehabilitation techniques, including cognitive therapy, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications, can aid in the recovery process and help individuals regain their cognitive abilities.

Challenges in Diagnosing Concussions

Diagnosing concussions can be challenging, as not all healthcare professionals have the necessary tools or interpretation skills. Many concussion patients experience symptoms that are not properly treated or understood, leading to frustration and confusion. Symptoms of concussions can often be mistaken for other conditions, such as anxiety or gut problems. It is crucial to improve the diagnostic process for concussions to ensure that individuals receive proper treatment and care.

Improving Understanding and Treatment

The development of better imaging techniques and a comprehensive approach to concussion management, such as functional medicine and chiropractic neurology, can greatly improve the understanding and treatment of concussions. By combining these approaches, healthcare professionals can provide personalized and effective care to individuals with head injuries. Continued research and advancements in the field are essential to further improving the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of concussions.


Concussions and post-concussion syndrome pose significant challenges for both patients and healthcare professionals. The lack of a definitive test for concussion diagnosis and reliance on traditional imaging techniques have limited our understanding and treatment of these injuries. However, advancements in neuroimaging, such as fMRI and DTI, offer promising possibilities for validating the effects of head injuries. Functional medicine and chiropractic neurology provide a holistic approach to concussion management, addressing both the chemical and rehabilitative aspects of concussions. With continued research and advancements, we can improve the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of concussions, leading to better outcomes for individuals affected by these injuries.

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