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Concussions and the Brain

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Concussions and the Brain
Concussions and the Brain

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Concussions and brain injury are topics that cycle through the news almost every year. I was reading the new Men’s Health magazine and came across an article about young boys playing football. The article recounts a story of an 8 year old who took a few direct hits to his head while playing football. They were worried about him when he didn’t stand up after this third helmet to helmet hit. He eventually did get up, but the question remains as far as how much damage did that do to him. He was checked by doctors and told that he doesn’t have a concussion. While that’s a relief to hear, that does not put that boy in the clear. Concussions are not the only danger when it comes to hits to the head.

Concussion Symptoms

By definition, a concussion is when the brain is rattled so hard within the skull that there is physical damage to the brain. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea, mental confusion, sleep disorders, blackout, and fatigue, among others. People can have these symptoms with or without an actual concussion and people with concussions won’t always have these symptoms.

What Happens After Concussions?

An article published in 2011, showed that trauma in the head and neck region caused misalignment of the cervical spine thus restricting flow of the liquid that surrounds the brain and spinal column. This interruption of flow of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is linked to the beginning of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). This is evidence of just one possible outcome of such trauma and it doesn’t even mention the presence or history of concussions. Another common symptom that comes from head trauma is migraine headaches and/or cervicogeneic headaches.

The big symptom that has made its rounds in the media is Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy (CTE). CTE is a degenerative brain disease common in athletes, veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. This can only be determined posthumously but the symptoms can be seen before someone is diagnosed. These include difficulty thinking (cognitive impairment), impulsive behavior, depression, short-term memory loss, difficulty planning and carrying out tasks (executive function), emotional instability, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts or behavior.

What do I do if I’ve had head trauma?

football playerAs an Upper Cervical specialist, I’ve seen so many variations of head related trauma. Patients are more worried about concussions as well they should be, but what I become more concerned about is the damage done even without the signs and symptoms of a concussion. If there is trauma to the head and neck, then the spine can become misaligned. The easiest place for the cervical spine to misalign is at the top, the level of the atlas.

When the atlas becomes misaligned, several problems can begin. First, as mentioned before, the CSF flow can be interrupted and inadequately nourish the brain and lead to future degenerative problems. Second, the brainstem can become compromised leading to decreased neurological function. Third, blood flow from the vertebral arteries can become insufficient to allow for proper brain function.

By fixing this misalignment in the spine, Upper Cervical Chiropractors can help prevent the degeneration of the brain and potentially stop the damage. By locating, detecting, and correcting this misalignment without harmful drugs or surgery, Upper Cervical doctors can give you the best chance at preventing a debilitating lifetime of pain and suffering.

If you or someone you know has had repetitive head trauma or is showing symptoms that might be related, tell them to find an Upper Cervical Health care practitioner.

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About the author


Dr Jerome Ri, DC is the owner and operator of Upper Cervical Health Care of Orange County. He has dedicated his life to helping those in pain to regain their health and livelihoods through the use of the Blair and Knee Chest Upper Cervical Chiropractic techniques. In his free time, he enjoys working out, cooking, and building computers.

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