Concussions 101

Image of a brain with a Concussions

A concussion is a violent jarring or shaking of the head that bruises the brain and results in disturbance of  brain function.  As a chiropractor, I’m all about the nervous system operating at it’s best ability so your body can function and heal at it’s best potential.  Therefore, concussions are a huge concern to me for the health and well-being of my patients, family and friends.  They are dangerous because you can’t see a concussion like you can see a bruise or swelling.

Many athletes will deny that they may have a concussion in order to not let their teamates down.  Some athletes can be in denial because they don’t lose consciousness and the hit may seem harmless and sometime there are no symptoms immediately after the injury.

The most common symptoms from a concussion are headaches and dizziness, but people may also have memory loss, trouble sleeping, fatigure and loss of conentration.  They typical recovery time in 80% – 90% of concussion is 7-10 days.  Anything longer may be more serious concussion or secondary injury like whiplash or upper cervical injury may have occurred.  It is important to note that research has shown that medications don’t improve recovery time.

The first 10 days after the injury are most vulnerable to further injury so it is imperative to rest.  Patients must rest physically and mentally.  This is crucial because we don’t want to risk “Second Impact Syndrome” from another concussion occurring while current concussion is still present. The injury is typically worse and may lead to PCS (post concussion syndrome) which involves chronic depression, anger episodes, memory loss, and headaches.

If you suspect a concussion a thorough examination is important.  A neck injury can have exact same symptoms as concussions, with headaches, dizziness, trouble sleeping, memory issues, and loss of concentration.

Studies have shown that football & rugby appear to have the greatest incidence of concussion, followed by hockey and soccer.

These are the instructions I give to my patients with a concussion:

– Don’t take any meds without consulting your MD

– Avoid strenuous activity for at least 48 hours and until symptoms reduce

– Eat a light diet of soup, toast or crackers for 24 hours after injury

– Avoid alcohol

If symptoms are prolonged more than 2 weeks it’s good to get more exams with a neurologist or an optometrist for an eye exam.

Serious concussions could be referred for Vestibular Stimulation with a rotating chair called GyroStim that stimulates the vestibular apparatus because it’s a powerful activator of brain function.  This is the therapy that helped Sidney Crosby with his concussions.

In order to return to play a patient must be asymptomatic, and able to do jogging/sit-ups, push-ups/sprinting without symptoms returning and passing a pupil exam.

Chiropractic care has been shown to help with concussion recovery. The British Journal of Sports Medicine, Spring 2014, Kathryn Schneider (Univ. of Calgary) show that Vestibular Therapy along with cervical spine therapy helped 73% of athletes with prolonged concussion symptoms return to play within 8 weeks as compared to 7% of athletes in the control group.

I hope this clears the air on concussions.

In good health,

Dr. Rob