What is a Concussion, and How Does it Happen?

Concussion is the result of the head hitting an object, an object hitting the head or a violent, traumatic movement of the head causing the brain to be thrown back and forth against the inside of the skull. This may cause blood vessels within the brain to tear and internal bleeding may occur. Various brain structures can also be damaged, which will ultimately affect brain function.


Symptoms may not show up immediately following a trauma, but may appear later—sometimes a year or more. This is referred to as “post-concussion syndrome.” The symptoms of concussion are wide-ranging and can affect people in many ways. Concussion can impact emotion and behaviour, causing irritability, aggression, anxiety, depression or apathy. It may also affect cognition and cause problems with concentration and memory. Physical symptoms include headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, double vision, sleep disorders, fatigue and neck pain, as well as other seemingly unrelated pain syndromes and system disorders.

Brain Anatomy, Concussion, and Craniosacral Therapy

Our craniosacral system, which consists of our brain and spinal cord, is enveloped by a deep layer of fascia called the dural membrane. This protective membrane lines the inside of our skull and surrounds the entire brain. The dural membrane interfaces with another membrane, called the arachnoid membrane, which goes on to interfacewith yet another membrane called the pia mater.

This pia mater interfaces with glial cells, which are the glue and supporting matrix for all the structures of the brain. The glial cells provide transportation of nutrients and the removal of waste products within the brain. This fluid exchange is how the body/brain heals—what is needed is brought in and what is not needed is taken out, like bringing in the groceries and taking out the trash!

Interfacing means one thing is connected to another and another. There is no end and no beginning—the membranes and structures all meld together. 

When a blow or violent movement happens to the head, force is transmitted through the skull and can travel through these interconnecting membranes, meaning it can affect the deepest levels and structures of our brain. The combined forces of 1) tensile strength and 2) the incredible continuity of the fascial system may help to explain the myriad of symptoms that a person may experience even after an injury should have healed.

In healthy tissue, a certain dynamic viscous quality can be felt under the hands of an experienced Craniosacral therapist.  When undue restrictions and tension patterns are present, the viscous quality can change to varying degrees of rigidity. These tension patterns can affect our brain structures and environment, and can be detected with the light touch of Craniosacral therapy which can facilitate the self correction of tissue and the release of these tensions and restrictions. Craniosacral therapy can thus contribute to creating a more optimal physical environment, making it much easier for the brain and spinal cord to heal.

It is suspected that the positive results experienced with Craniosacral therapy in post-concussion syndrome treatments are the result of the therapy not only affecting the cranial bones and dural membrane, but also facilitating the release the strain patterns in other deeper level membranes. This allows corrections to travel deep within the skull to reach and affect a myriad of brain functions or dysfunctions. 

Please see a physician if you have any concerns that you may have had a concussion.

Further Reading

“CranioSacral Therapy and Visceral Manipulation: A New Treatment Intervention for Concussion Recovery.” A research article authored by a team of concussion treatment professionals from the Upledger Institute and published in the Medical Acupuncture Journal, a peer-reviewed journal of evidence-based research.

“Concussion and Post-concussion Syndrome.” By Yonina Chernick.

 “CranioSacral Therapy, Brain Injury, and American Football: Time for a Convergence.” By Eric Leskowitz.

“Hope for the Treatment of Retired Athletes.” By Melinda Roland, MA, PT, LAc, OMD, Dipl-Ac, CST-D, and Sally Fryer Dietz, PT, CST-D.