SEPTEMBER 2017 NEWSLETTER Heads Up: Can Chiropractic Care Treat Concussions? What is a Concussion? Injuries to the head and neck during sports, accidents, and other traumatic events are common. Two of the most frequently occurring conditions in the head and neck area are whiplash (a particular neck injury from high velocity forces) and concussion (a closed-head injury, sometimes called mild traumatic brain injury). These two injuries could both occur during the same incident, but not always in ways that are immediately obvious. Because I explore whiplash more thoroughly in another essay on this website, I’m choosing here to focus on concussion. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), between 2001 and 2009, an estimated 173,285 people under age 19 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for concussions related to sports and recreation activities. Other causes include car and bicycle accidents, work-related injuries, falls, and fights.
A hard blow to the head can shake the brain inside the skull, resulting in bruising, broken blood vessels, or nerve damage to the brain. There no outward bleeding or opening in the skull, it could result in a closed brain injury. An open brain injury is when an object penetrates the skull and goes into the brain. How Can You Tell If You Have Had a Concussion? Concussions are usually not life threatening. Even so, their effects can be serious. Concussive symptoms usually fall in one of four categories:
Thinking/remembering Physical Emotional/mood
Any difficulty walking Any loss of consciousness, confusion, or significant agitation One pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other Loss of ability to identify people, places, the date, or self Loss of motion or sensation, weakness, numbness or loss of coordination Persistent, worsening headache Repeated vomiting Slurred speech or difficulty with expression Seizures Kids will not stop crying and cannot be consoled Kids will not nurse or eat
Get to the ER right away if you have any of these danger signs after any type of head injury, no matter how minor it may seem.
What Do Chiropractors Do for People with Concussions? Most medical journals will say, “There are no treatments for concussions other than prevention of an additional injury. “
Any blow to the head will cause a misalignment of the cervical spine (a symptom similar to whiplash). A chiropractor can evaluate whether you demonstrate signs of neck injuries commonly associated with concussions, and provide you with relief of neck pain and headaches. According to the literature reviews, one of the most important recommendations that a chiropractor will tell you what to do for concussion is this: If you or your loved one is in sports and suffers a blow to the head, and/or experiences signs of a concussion, do not let them continue playing the sport. He or she needs to rest until totally healed from the concussion. Only after symptoms subside is it time to get back into the game. Ease into the sports play again. Don’t expect to jump back in, full force. This will prevent the return of symptoms. Additional guidelines your chiropractor will give you for concussion include no alcohol, recreational drugs, aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications, and sleep agents should be consumed. Use Tylenol for pain, if necessary. By all means, do not drive until you can return to the sport. Chiropractors can help with a range of other sports injuries, and one study even found that it was the most effective conservative method for reducing sports-related back pain.
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