Concussion care (Prof. Tenovuo part 4)


Concussion care is often not compassionate. On the contrary, patients report to Professor Tenovuo that they don’t feel heard by their doctors. After seeing over 6000 patients with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), he has learned a lot about the symptoms and problems we cope with. 

In this 4th episode with Professor Tenovuo, we speak about how concussion care is lacking, and how it could be improved. If you haven’t yet listened to episode 1, 2 and 3, please find them right here:

Table of contents:

02:42 Compassionate concussion care
06:29 Neuroplasticity
08:53 Concussion care is lacking
11:59 Concussion & family members
13:45 Conclusion: Professor Tenovuo

Concussion Stories podcast

[00:00 Melanie] If I say there is hope for complete recovery for people with a concussion, you say…?

[00:07 Professor McCrea] 100%!

[00:08 Professor Maas] And in fact, you didn’t only feel it: you were outside the regular medical system, because they were not interested in you.

[00:16 Professor Sitskoorn] Neuroplasticity actually opens you up to the world. It makes it possible to develop; it makes it possible to rehabilitate.

[00:25 Professor Wilson] Traumatic brain injury has been called a silent epidemic for that reason, because it consists of changes and disabilities that are not obvious to other people.

[00:35 Dr. Zasler] If, as a physician, you felt you had nothing to offer a patient, then I think ethically, you need to say] “I don’t think there’s anything I can offer you. Maybe you should see Dr. M.”

[00:48 Professor Diaz-Arrastia] Historically, we have called these things mild traumatic brain injuries, which implies that, well… It may be a brain injury, but it’s not going to have great consequences, right? And that’s frankly not true.

About the Concussion Stories podcast

[01:05 Melanie] Welcome to Concussion Stories, a Lifeyana podcast series filled with hope. I’m here to let you know that you are not alone in your post-concussion recovery journey. My name is Melanie and I spent six and a half years learning, experimenting, and training in order to find a way to heal myself from post-concussion syndrome.

After making a full recovery by the end of 2018, I embarked on this mission to make the recovery journey easier for you. This is why I started this podcast, wrote detailed blog post and downloadable guides, offer coaching and also the course that I wish I had back when I was recovering — teaching you everything that I needed to know in order to make my recovery happen.

On Concussion Stories, we dig deep while discussing hopeful stories of recovery as well as the hard stuff in the messy middle. Let’s dive right in!

Professor Tenovuo

Today, it’s time for our fourth and final episode with Professor Tenovuo. We’re going to dive more into his medical experience. He shares how his track record with patients who experience post-concussion symptoms contributed to his own growth, and how seeing over 6,000 patients post-concussion developed his understanding of the things we go through.

I personally find this part of our conversation the part that touched me most, and I can’t wait to share it with you! So let’s not wait any longer.

Compassionate concussion care

Compassionate concussion care

How did you get so involved and understanding of everything that we are going through? You are really understanding!

[02:55 Professor Tenovuo] I think it has taken a lot of time and seeing a lot of concussion patients. I started treating patients with TBI (traumatic brain injury) regularly in the early 90s. When I had seen about 500 patients with TBI, I started feeling that I began to somewhat understand them.

Over 6000 concussion patients!

I haven’t kept any accurate count during my clinical career, but I have seen well over 6000 patients with traumatic brain injury. It may not be a nice thing to say, but to me, it is a fascinating group of patients. I learn from these patients – maybe not every day, but every week. Still, every now and then, I face problems and symptoms that I have never seen before. Our brains are so mysterious, and these injuries are so individual that I am no longer astonished by anything that comes to my practice.

Concussion patients don’t feel heard

I think that one of the problems that many concussion patients share with me is: “The doctor hasn’t listened to me”. I think that is a major problem with many clinicians in concussion care: they think that they know what the patient’s problem is, and they don’t actually listen to what their patients are saying. The patients don’t get any help if their doctor doesn’t really understand, doesn’t truly listen to what they are saying or even doesn’t believe what they are saying.

[05:34 Melanie] I get the feeling that seeing TBI patients your whole career, having the personality that you have, has changed you as well.

[05:48 Professor Tenovuo] Yeah, sure, definitely. Yes.

[05:51 Melanie] How so?

[05:56 Professor Tenovuo] I think you have to. If you try to help patients with concussion, you have to be able to have that kind of empathy. You have to be able to hear what they are saying and be able to understand what they mean. Without that, I think, you cannot help them properly.

[06:24 Melanie] I wish I had met you while I was recovering.



[06:29 Professor Tenovuo] One of the major challenges we still have is that there is probably a lot of recovery potential in many post-concussion patients, but we don’t know how to find it in current concussion care. Of course, it helps that the doctor listens and understands your problems. However, it still doesn’t help you recover. So you have to do something that enables your neuroplasticity to work and get yourself back.

Neuroplasticity and neurogenesis: Melanie’s recovery

[07:13 Melanie] Exactly. That is precisely the thing that I did as well. Brain plasticity and neurogenesis are your friends if you need to recover from concussion. So those are the processes you want to stimulate. 

Concussion care: bad communication

Also, the way you say it: “There are things that we don’t know” – saying that is always better than what doctors told me. Multiple doctors, different doctors at different times…

[07:40 Professor Tenovuo] “Try to cope with it.”

[07:42 Melanie] Yeah.

[07:43 Professor Tenovuo] “Try to live with it.”

[07:45 Melanie] “And: you cannot recover. There is no possibility.” Wow, you cannot take hope away from patients. Yes, you shouldn’t give false hope, but you cannot take hope away. 

Concussion symptom recognition

That is not something that you are doing. You are helping them by giving them space to talk and a place where they feel recognized and acknowledged. That is something that I never got. That is something that I thank you for on behalf of everyone I believe. I know that it is so important.

Our brains can recover!

If as a doctor providing concussion care, there is something that you don’t know, because there might be a lot of recovery potential for example, you should voice that. I am very positive about the recovery potential of the brain, because that’s what I discovered. I feel that there is so much about the brain that we still don’t know yet. So how can you say that it isn’t capable? 

I think us, humans, aren’t capable – but our brains are capable of so much more! If you say: “We don’t know, but it might be,” that is an honest statement. It is always better to state that rather than thinking unconsciously: “Secretly, I don’t know. But I’m going to tell you that it can’t be done.”

[08:52 Professor Tenovuo] Yeah. 

Concussion care is lacking

Concussion care is lacking

But that is a difficult task for patients with TBI because usually these patients have loss of energy and they have poor initiation. So asking patients with those kinds of post-concussion problems to try to find ways to recover is a difficult combination.

Cure My Concussion course

[09:26 Melanie] Yes, I fully understand that. That is why I bundled everything I had to learn. I don’t know everything, but I know what worked for me and I know what took me 6.5 years to compile to find. I just wanted to put that out there, so that other patients can find it and they can do the program in two days if they would do it full-time. Patients can find everything without having to search for it, because the search mostly takes most of the time. Well, trying things, failing and experimenting actually takes most of the time. 

Concussion care needs to improve

This is what I am trying to do, and what I hope doctors will do eventually to improve concussion care. I hope they will say: “You have a concussion,” – which we will name differently in the future. “Here is your toolbox. Let’s see how we can help you. Please come back so I can check up on you.” I think that would be an improved situation for concussion care. Please check out the Concussion Stories episode with Professor Andelic on holistic post-concussion care.

[10:36 Professor Tenovuo] Yeah. 

Reading and screens after concussion

But then we might have practical problems also. I’m thinking of one of my recent patients who I advised to look at your pages. Also, there are some excellent books on brain injury recovery. But the guy said that he had a problem with reading books and reading from screens. So how to help those kinds of patients?

[11:26 Melanie] Yeah, that’s actually still a hurdle for me. I already managed to make everything in the Cure My Concussion course downloadable so people can listen to it. It’s available as mp3 and PDF, so they can print it. However, they have to get into the course. And that is online. So indeed it is difficult. I think that that is where support systems come in, right? Family members and loved ones, we need them to help us.

[11:58 Professor Tenovuo] Yeah. 

Concussion & family members

Concussion & family members

Speaking about family members: that’s also one vastly important issue, I think. Family members are often quite neglected in traditional medicine and concussion care

Understand concussion problems

Family members often do not understand the problem of the patients, or why they behave differently, or why they have these kinds of problems. If the patient has poor initiation, it doesn’t mean that he or she is lazy. It means something else. So if family members don’t understand these kinds of problems, we are causing more problems for the patients. 

Family support after concussion 

We need to inform and support the family on the nature of these problems. I think that is a very neglected area in many healthcare systems.

[13:02 Melanie] Yes, I think that too. On the one hand informing family members or loved ones, because as you say, it impacts them too. But also they have their own belief systems and they may judge, or they may help, or they may be overbearing. It could be every response. And on the other hand, helping them cope as well.

[13:29 Professor Tenovuo] Yeah, it’s very stressful for them too, because their loved one is not the same person that he or she used to be.

[13:39 Melanie] True. They may have to help patients find the right help, because it is so hard to find for them.

[13:44 Professor Tenovuo] Yeah.

Conclusion: Professor Tenovuo


[13:45 Melanie] We have already spoken for over an hour!

[13:49 Professor Tenovuo] Time flies.

[13:51 Melanie] Yes. It has been such a good conversation with you. I also feel like we have discussed many things. I had a script on the side, questions I wanted to ask you, but we just went on and on and on! I want to thank you for your time, but especially for your insight and also your dedication or devotion to helping patients with traumatic brain injuries.

[14:24 Professor Tenovuo] Thank you. Well, I think that’s what doctors are for.

Questions for Professor Tenovuo

[14:34 Melanie] This concludes the four concussion stories episodes with Professor Tenovuo. I wish with all my heart that their contents may help you. Please note that you may always contact me to ask or tell Professor Tenovuo something and I will relay your question or remark.

Penny for your thoughts?

Now, I would love to hear from you. What do you take away from this episode? Is there something that you can apply to your life right away? Head on over to and leave your comment now.

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If you want to support this podcast, head on over to Thank you for listening to this concussion stories episode by Lifeyana. May you will be well and may you be happy.

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