Football season is right around the corner, and with it comes the rather recent interest in concussion safety. In the last few years, the lasting effects of concussions and cumulative brain injuries have burst into the spotlight, highlighted by the Will Smith movie, Concussion. In this movie, Smith portrays forensic pathologist Dr. Bennett Omalu, the first man to discover the disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is the degenerative brain disease resulting from repetitive brain injuries over time and has been found to be alarmingly common among football players. For the purpose of this article, let’s leave CTE for another discussion and just talk about concussions.
A concussion is defined by Mayo Clinic as a traumatic brain injury that affects your brain function. Vague, I know, but concussions can be very different and will affect people on an individual basis, depending on the severity of the trauma. Following any blow to the head, no matter how severe, symptoms of concussion should always be assessed throughout the next 48 hours. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and poor memory. If any head injury results in loss of consciousness, a concussion is likely and a trained professional should assess the affected individual as quickly as possible. Once a concussion has been diagnosed, it is important to take measures quickly to ensure a speedy recovery and prevent lingering issues.
Typical advice for concussion management is rest, with a slow return to normal activity. Depending on the severity of the injury, any activity can be difficult in the early phase of recovery. However, simple activities such as light walking, stretching, and balance training can help recovery. These exercises help release brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which helps neurons grow, restore communication between them, and prevent further brain degeneration.
Proper nutrition is also a vital component for concussion recovery. By consuming increased amounts of protein after a concussion, the body will have a better opportunity to heal and restore damaged tissues. Eggs, poultry, and grass-fed red meat are great sources of protein but can be hard to consume after concussions due to nausea. If that’s the case, getting protein from a whey or pea and rice shake supplement is beneficial. Decreasing inflammation that occurs due to the damaged brain tissue is also key. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for decreasing this inflammation, and also help with rebuilding healthy cell membranes in the neurons and other damaged cells. Curcumin has been shown to be one of the most powerful naturally occurring anti-inflammatories. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, but getting enough to have an anti-inflammatory effect can be difficult by just using turmeric to spice your food. Curcumin can be found in capsule form at most natural health supplement stores.
Chiropractic care is also a great option for concussion rehab. Stimulation of the nervous system via the adjustment can help with symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Along with the brain, the neck and shoulders are commonly affected by head trauma, and restoring proper biomechanics to these areas can only help the healing process. Ask how we can help!
Yours in Health, Dr. Alex
Much of this information was taken from one of my favorite chiropractors to follow, Dr. Robert Silverman. www.drrobertsilverman.com