What I Wish I Knew About Concussions
Fifteen years ago, I suffered my first concussion. It was a sports related concussion and I was hit by a line drive softball to my forehead from 35 feet away. I did not lose consciousness when I was hit. I was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury and severe whiplash. I also suffered from a severe case of post-concussion syndrome. I had symptoms ranging from headaches, irritability, fatigue, anxiety, sadness, sensitivity to light and sounds and even experienced several blackouts. However, the most debilitating symptom that I faced were migraine headaches. It took most of my post-concussion symptoms about a year to completely disappear, but the migraine headaches are still something I experience.
Now that you’ve learned a little bit of my history, here are some of the things I wish I knew as a young athlete and things I wished my parents knew before I experienced my concussion…
What is a Concussion:
A concussion is caused by a direct or indirect blow to the head. It can be a bang, jolt or anything that disrupts the equilibrium. During this traumatic injury, the brain is hit and will slosh around in the head. A concussion can occur during acceleration and deceleration with translational, rotational and angular forces. Brain forces can be injured on the side of force or the opposite of the force. These forces lead to a wave of energy that passes through the brain tissue triggering neuronal dysfunction. The cascading events then cause the concussion symptoms. Typically, a patient’s brain will correct and recover, however while the brain is recovering it may cause a reduction in cerebral blood flow which may result in cell dysfunction and leave cells more vulnerable to second insult. Hence the reason why Second Concussive Syndrome is so dangerous.
Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion:
Rest is not enough. The body needs to reduce inflammation and prevent further inflammation. To reduce further inflammation, we need to decrease the chemical changes in the body. It is critical that post TBI to affect the neuronal function and provide neuroprotection to allow blood vessel and tissue repair. Nutrition plays a huge role in process of recovery and help prevent further damage
Important key factors to Consider post-concussion are:
· Water intake should be half of your body weight divided in half in ounces.
· Walk! Get the aerobic system involved within 4 hours without bringing on symptoms of the concussion.
Post TBI, patients are more prone to developing small intestine bacteria growth so it’s important to:
· Avoid MSG and Aspartame · Limit saturated fats · Limit calories · Limit saturated fats
· No cooked oils, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, or artificial flavors or colors
· Decrease salt and sodium intake to prevent water retention and edema
Foods To Fuel The Brain Post-Concussion:
· Flax seeds · Hemp seeds · Avocado
· Veggie soups · Red grapes · Blueberries · Turmeric
Boswellia: helps balance the cerebral inflammatory responses and protect the brain tissue; give immediately after a hit; enhances cognitive function
N-Acetyl Cysteine: restores reactivity after TBI; protects brain cells from excessive damage and death; if given early after injury it can help reverse the behavioral deficits associated with the TBI
Glutathione: best antioxidant
Fish Oils: anti inflammatory
Curcumin/Tumeric: powerful anti inflammatory
Anthocyanidins/Viatmin D: address inflammation
Aconite/Arnica: 200x of aconite immediately then arnica then natrum muricum if dizzy or if there is head pain
Chiropractic Care and Post-Concussion Syndrome:
Impaired Brainstem Function – The atlas (C1) houses and protects the brainstem, and a slight misalignment can place pressure on this vital part of the nervous system and impair its proper function. As a result, the communication between the brain and body may suffer and many symptoms can occur.
Inhibited Blood Flow to the Brain – The upper cervical spine (Occiput, C1 and C2) play a vital role in facilitating blood flow to the brain. The vertebral foramen openings in the cervical vertebra leave a passageway for the vertebral arteries that bring oxygen rich blood to the brain. Misalignments can cause vessels bringing blood to the brain to become kinked. If the blood flow to the certain parts of the brain are inhibited, symptoms noted above can occur.
Reduced Cerebrospinal Fluid Damage – When C1 and C2 are misaligned, cerebrospinal fluid may also cease to drain properly from the brain and spinal cord. This can result in intracranial pressure that leads to many post-concussion symptoms and other chronic conditions.
Precise Adjustments – Chiropractors are trained to find the slightest misalignments of the occiput, C1 and C2 vertebrae. When there has been an injury to the head and neck region, theses bones are most commonly affected. These are the exact misalignments that can lead to changes in the central nervous system and post-concussion symptoms. Once the spine is realigned, many patients notice that symptoms are reduced or eliminated completely.
If you or someone you know may be suffering from post-concussion syndrome, please contact our office for further evaluation and help.
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