The Hidden Effects of Head Injuries *
The issues surrounding head injuries, including concussions, have never been a part of mainstream conversation more than they are right now. As we begin football season, the reports of thousands of ex-NFL players suing their former league regarding their mental health have shaken the sport down to its youngest players. Recently, pee-wee football organizations have released new rules limiting contact during practices.
Every athlete and parent knows football isn’t the only sport that is raising concerns about head injuries. Cycling has the highest number of people who sustain head traumas reporting to the emergency room each year, almost double the amount of the next highest, football. Hockey, soccer, wrestling, field hockey, baseball, softball, basketball in fact all sports reported an increase in head injuries from 2008 to 2009. As our kids become faster, stronger and start sports earlier, their chances of sustaining chronic head injuries, and the likely result of long-term brain injury, is dramatically rising. There is also a growing concern in the military regarding combat training procedures.
Just as concerning is the hidden tragedy that every head injury has the potential to also damage the neck. Since the primary focus at the time of a head injury is the head, the neck is very often overlooked. There are distinct signs of neck injury that can be found during an examination at the time of injury, as well as days, weeks, months and even years later. Due to the focus and pressure rising on concussions, the rapid forward-backward motion commonly known as whiplash has been swept under the rug, downplayed and often ignored. And yet, the vast majority of head injuries also have the mechanism to cause whiplash injuries as well.
A recent report on ESPN told the story of a teenage football player who made a tackle where he led with his head and broke his neck. In this case, his head wasn’t even injured, but his neck was injured severely and this unfortunate young man is paralyzed as a result.
Most neck injuries that occur in conjunction with head trauma are not severe enough to cause paralysis, but can cause pressure on nerves that affect the health of the victim on many levels. Whiplash and concussion have serious long-term effects, including depression, memory loss, fatigue, mood swings, headaches and chronic instability. Head and neck injuries also damage sensitive nerves in these regions as they exit the spine. Damage to ligaments can mean continual nerve irritation and interference if proper care is not given. The effects from these injuries can last decades after the pain goes away.
The potential for long-term effects has caused many to run away from activities they love and use to remain physically active. Rather than leave athletics, the Lifestyle Care Continuum of The 100 Year Lifestyle can help you correct and protect spine and nervous system subluxations that can affect the health of muscles, ligaments and vital organs.
Crisis Care provides relief and stability to injured areas of the spine. It is essential that these injuries are given appropriate time to stabilize, as head and neck injuries have a high rate of lingering symptoms. The Critical Transition phase of care is essential to help minimize the long-term effects of these injuries. Major research centers still only recommend care for several weeks following an injury, one of the probable causes for continued nerve damage. For people who have sustained previous injuries and those looking to avoid them the spine and nerve protection afforded by Chiropractic Lifestyle Care contributes to optimum function and support, which can minimize the risk of future injuries.
This issue will be part of our society for years to come. If you or a loved one has ever sustained even a mild head or neck injury, consider your long term health and get you spine and nervous system checked. The damage done by the injury may not surface for years to come, but your ability to protect your long-term health and well-being begins now.
For Your Best 100 Year Lifestyle
Dr. Jordan Plasker
*Contributed By Aryn Gabai, D.C., C.A.C.C.P. A 100 Year Lifestyle Licensed Affiliate Chiropractor, Pennington, NJ
Concussion Movie And Reality
The Concussion movie starring Will Smith and Alec Baldwin is raising awareness and important concerns for many victims of this misunderstood condition. If you are, or know an athlete or accident victim who has experienced a brain injury through concussion, then you know the impact it can have on health and quality of life. Headaches, neck pain, memory loss and depression are just a few of the many symptoms that can occur and the severity can range from mild to severe.
Chiropractic care should be an important part of the care that you receive as quickly as possible after a concussion injury occurs. Topics in Integrative Healthcare recently released a report regarding SRC (sports-related concussion) and the benefits of chiropractic care for the injury. “A short course of cervical manipulation (adjustments) and upper thoracic manipulation was suggested and applied. The patient noted significant symptomatic relief after the second treatment and virtually complete resolution of symptoms after 5 visits performed over 2 weeks.” Unfortunately, there are a high number of young athletes that do not seek care who experience longer periods of impairment and delay in their return to play.
There are many chiropractic techniques to help accelerate healing of a concussion injury. These techniques analyze how the brain is communicating with the body over the nervous system and make corrections to get the brain and body functioning better.
An examination of the neck is extremely important for patients who suffer from concussions. If you have received a trauma that is hard enough to injure your head and brain, it’s likely to also have caused injury to the neck. Overlooking the neck as a component of healing is a big mistake which can delay healing and lead to chronic problems and deterioration in both the spine and nervous system. These spinal subluxations, when present, cause miscommunication in the nervous system which can make the symptoms worse and prevent healing. Depending on the extent and severity of the injury, results vary for each person. Regardless, it is important to include chiropractic evaluation and adjustment protocols to ensure the possibility of optimal healing and return to normal function.
Each year, 1.6 – 3.8 million sports-related brain injuries occur, 136,000 of them in young athletes during high school sports 1. Traditional methods alone can limit the possibilities of healing and delay return to normal function.
If you or a loved one has had a concussion, schedule a time to get your spine and nervous system checked. If you have not, schedule a time to get checked anyway to ensure that your spine and nervous system are healthy. You will optimize its function today while you also strengthen yourself in case of an emergency down the road. See you at your appointment.
For Your Best 100 Year Lifestyle
Dr. Jordan Plasker
1. Langlois JA, Rutland-Brown W, Wald MM. The epidemiology and impact of traumatic brain injury: a brief overview. J Head Trauma Rehabil 2006; 21:375-8.