An estimated 2.5 million high school athletes will report one concussion this year, and, because of that staggering number, high schools are becoming much better at screening those at risk and diagnosing athletes on the field. The dilemma arises because once a child is diagnosed with a concussion, there is no gold standard rehabilitation plan to get that child back on the playing field as good as they were before.
- Ensure everyone has a basic understand of concussions and what they do to your brain
- Give you an exact road map with extra considerations of things you NEED to do to optimally recover from your concussion
In high school my younger brother sustained a gnarly concussion that changed him for a long time. It was during wrestling season and he lost consciousness after the head trauma. His recovery was long and much more grueling that it had to be because his advice was to shelter in a dark room until his symptoms subsided. It wasn’t until I learned about what a concussion truly is that I learned the optimal way to rehabilitate one.
It is football and hockey season. They are 2 of the 3 most common concussion causing sports in high school. The 3rd being rugby.
What happens to your head?
A “brain-bruise” is the outdated thought process behind a concussion. The latest research points to a very different mechanism. Your brain is along for the ride that is playing a contact sports. During that ride your body will rapidly accelerate & decelerate. During that rapid speed change, the brain rapidly stretches and the nerves in your brain are taken beyond their stretch capacity. When that happens a massive injury cascade takes place and the resulting effects include but are not limited to:
- Loss of consciousness
- Altered, blurred or double vision
- Loss of balance & coordination
- Difficulty focusing
- Sensitivity to loud sounds, strong smells or bright light
The nerves, as pictured above, temporarily lose their ability to control energy making, nerve signaling and control of electrolyte gradients. Thus, from the rapid acceleration-deceleration, calcium is flooded into this damaged nerve and causes what we know as a concussion. Symptoms can differ between person and severity. Some people will be knocked unconscious and will regain almost total function upon waking, whereas some will have no physical contact with another player and will suffer ‘wobbly’ legs and double vision. There is no telling what will happen to each person, BUT there is an exact strategy you should follow to recover after your concussion. If you have been told to sit in a dark room and sleep it off, stay tuned!
The Step-By-Step Solution
- 1. First and Foremost: You need evaluated by an on site athletic trainer or professional who can diagnose you with a concussion. This includes a SCAT5 (Sports Concussion Assessment Tool 5) and/or sport specific protocols for your high school.
- 2. Cervical and Brainstem Examination: You need your cervical musculature and joint structures examined for restrictions and soft tissue injuries. Once achieved, you need a full cranial nerve and thorough vestibulo-occular assessment.
- 3. Aerobic Symptom Testing: Either the Buffalo Treadmill Test or the Buffalo Bike Test can be used to determine your symptomatic heart rate to start cardiovascular rehab. *Cardiovascular rehab should be not be performed until at least 24 hours after the concussive event but after 24 hours it should be done daily.*
- 4. Physiotherapy Modalities: Electrical stimulation and red light therapy are critical to include and dose appropriately for concussions. They can manage the whiplash style symptoms to the cervical spine as well as stimulate areas of the brain to heal faster.
- Finally, find a qualified professional who can perform all of these steps and walk you through the next 2-4 weeks of your concussion rehab.
The sooner you can get examined [for a concussion] by a professional and start your rehab process the better.
If you or someone you know has suffered a concussion, get them into our office.
We have a concussion package that offers 6 Chiropractic treatments with E-stim, red light, soft tissue mobilization, vestibulo-occular therapy and targeted cardiovascular rehab all designed to make you optimally recover and be better
Visit www.hpc-stl.com/contact or call 314-628-9898
- Magnesium: Magnesium controls the calcium influx into cells, one of the main factors for the nerve damage, and relaxation of blood vessels. I recommend 400-1,000mg of magnesium daily as magnesium glycinate, citrate, malate or threonate.
- Beet Root Extract or L-Citrulline: There is a period following a concussion where the brain has a lack of blood flow. Beet root extract and/or L-Citrulline both help dilate blood vessels and can restore pre-concussive blood flow for optimal recovery.
- Melatonin: Melatonin is important for 2 reasons: sleep and antioxidants. Sleep is the most critical component of recovery from any injury. Also, one of the abilities temporarily lost in a concussion is the ability to deal with reactive oxygen species or ROS. I recommend 5-20mg before bed.
Blue Light Blockers: Blue light emitted from technology can be particularly harmful in the early stages of concussion recovery due to it’s ability to stimulate the eyes. Gradually exposing the brain to stimulus is critical for concussions and quality blue light blockers should be considered. *The lenses on your glasses should be an amber color or they are not actually blocking blue light.*
Neck Strength: Research shows that the strength of your neck can be a predictor of concussions. This is because if your neck is strong your head will not be whiplashed as bad during your next contact sporting event. All contact sport athletes should be actively strengthening their necks!
Check us out on Instagram: @hpc_stl or on Facebook: Health & Performance Center