Mayo Clinic Looking into Autonomic Response to Concussion

Neurologists at Mayo Clinic in Arizona have taken a promising step toward identifying a test that helps support the diagnosis of concussion. Their research has shown that autonomic reflex testing, which measures involuntary changes in heart rate and blood pressure, consistently appear to demonstrate significant changes in those with concussion.

Appearing on their website, the information researchers are delving into is a new angle on  concussions.  It is widely known that traumatic brain injured (TBI) patients have autonomic system (ANS) deficits/abnormalities.  However the group from Arizona thought an investigation into concussed patients was worth the effort.  Low and behold their findings are a promising first step in possible assessment and management of the concussion.

One interesting note, was this notion on dizziness;

“Contrary to popular belief, the symptoms of ‘dizziness’ that patients feel just after a concussion may, in some cases, be symptoms of autonomic system impairment rather than a vestibular or inner ear disturbance,” says Bert Vargas, M.D., a Mayo neurologist.

No one is telling you to take blood pressures with assessment (ergo baselines), yet, but with this information could come not only objective testing but biomarkers associated with ANS changes;

“This study shows a possible electrophysiological biomarker that indicates that a concussion has occurred — we are hopeful that with more research this will be confirmed and that this may also be a biomarker for recovery,” he says.


9 thoughts on “Mayo Clinic Looking into Autonomic Response to Concussion

  1. when I suffered a concussion / brain injury via being rear-ended by an auto….

    my blood pressure, that is typically around 115/70, top number was 150 + at the scene of the accident… (don’t recall the bottom number)

  2. joe bloggs April 1, 2013 / 19:20

    It is confirmation of John Leddy, MD and his team at the University of Buffalo. He had been testing interventions for some time. He is running a trial on retired professional hockey and football players.

    His team had some interesting results in small studies. One of his most interesting findings had been that numerous subjects with PCS have undiagnosed neck injuries comorbidly or the mistaken for PCS.

    Good stuff.

  3. Ryan April 10, 2013 / 11:24

    I wish this research had been done 15 years ago, so that I would have known how many of my dozens of “bell rung” incidents in sports were actually, bonafide concussions.

    • Ryan,

      Many individuals remain unaware that comprehensive info re the significance of concussions / brain injuries has existed for an extensive period of time…and were written during various times in the 1900’s.

      May I suggest that you and other interested readers of this blog disgest the contents of the below articles. The info gleaned will be quite revealing and educational.

      Unfortunately some of the citations “split” when I was copying and pasting…and do not know how to correct this error.


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  4. brokenbrilliant June 14, 2013 / 05:37

    Reblogged this on Broken Brain – Brilliant Mind and commented:
    I’ve been reading, thinking, and writing about autonomic nervous system issues in connection with TBI for some time, now. The connection is pretty obvious to me, and I believe it also contributes to the development of PTSD after concussion/TBI. There is an important connection between the two, and I’m convinced that autonomic nervous system issues are significant contributors to both the trauma that comes from TBI (after the injury, not just before/during), and our physiological and psychological responses to it.

  5. brokenbrilliant June 14, 2013 / 05:38

    I’ve been reading, thinking, and writing about autonomic nervous system issues in connection with TBI for some time, now. The connection is pretty obvious to me, and I believe it also contributes to the development of PTSD after concussion/TBI. There is an important connection between the two, and I’m convinced that autonomic nervous system issues are significant contributors to both the trauma that comes from TBI (after the injury, not just before/during), and our physiological and psychological responses to it.

  6. Jacqui Fox July 2, 2017 / 12:08

    As a recent concussion(Nov.2015) patient at the Phoenix Mayo campus, I am surprised that I am still having many symptoms (heart burn, headaches, visual disturbances, balance loss, working memory difficulties, exercise tolerance loss,etc.) and they do not want to follow up on them (except for Dr. Bogle-who is amazing). I have chronicled every day since the accident so that the doctors and therapists could better assist me and it is difficult to understand why they have just dropped the ball.( could it be that this concussion was due to a motor vehicle accident? they don’t like medical leans-neither do I) They could have learned so much for their concussion program. They initially mentioned that they might want to use me as a case study, but instead, since I did not fall into their protocols, they want to dismiss me. My PLOF was very high functioning and they misunderstood how badly my brain injury was. I am still not well in many ways but thankfully still making progress to achieving wellness. (My BP still is higher than it used to be by a small margin now)
    It is too bad some of them hold the premise that these issues may be just in my head and that I should “ignore them”. I certainly do not focus on them, but they keep cropping up.
    Sounds like there is much for them to learn.

  7. kimberlyalohr July 26, 2017 / 13:10

    The issue is what do you do about it.. how is it corrected.
    For me I have constant physical fatigue now, it’s getting better with time. Been almost 2+ yrs. my BP dipped badly after my last one.. 2 of which were minor. I’ve seen people get up and walk away unscathed and I, not so much.
    My brain thinks even stopping short on the road at 3mph constitutes a concussion and the whole prOcess begins again. How can you fix this??

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