Concussions, kids and chiropractic: What parents should know!

by dr.g

Concussions are a pretty hot topic around Chicago lately with Jay Cutler getting his bell rung lately and having to sit out a week, and the Quarterback just to the north of us Mr. Aaron Rogers suffering a similar fate last week. So what exactly is a concussion and how serious is it.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that results in swelling of the brain. A concussion often occurs  from direct trauma to the head, but it also occurs when violent head movements result in the brain bashing up against the skull bones. This second type of injury is common in motor vehicle accidents, slips and falls or sports like soccer and basketball where rapid changes of direction and player collisions occur.  Understand that if there is any loss of consciousness, even if for just a second, the individual has suffered a concussion and should be monitored for ongoing symptoms.    “A concussion is any type of traumatic brain injury that causes temporary dysfunction of the brain.

Depending on the extent of the injury, victims may suffer from a variety of complications, from loss of consciousness to severe brain damage. Most concussions are mild and heal without surgery or medication.

Because many patients experience subtle symptoms that go unnoticed, it is important to seek immediate medical attention after any head injury.”1

Medical doctors and chiropractors will do a battery of tests to assess interruption of neurologic function and rule out more serious injury. The use of the Glasgow Coma scale along with special tests like CT and/or MRI are used to assess the level of injury.

“Confusion and amnesia are some of the more common symptoms of concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Headaches,   temporary memory loss, nausea or vomiting, dizziness,  and ringing in the ears. ” 1  Complications occur from brain swelling leading to increased intracranial pressure leading to damaged brain tissue.

“The effects of TBI are more than just a headache.  Though most TBI’s are initially marked by headache, the important long-term consequences are the loss of the ability to regulate our thoughts, emotions and behavior.  You may ask, “how can that be, doesn’t it depend on what part of your head gets hit?” No, it does not––regardless where contact is made with the head, when the force is sufficient to cause movement of the brain within the skull, the frontal areas of the brain are always the most vulnerable to injury. ” 2

What is often overlooked is that the violent blow to the head or vigorous shaking injury that may or may not have resulted in a concussion often results in soft tissue injuries to the neck. These whiplash type injuries can result in headaches, dizziness, numbness and tingling in the head and arms because of misaligned vertebra of the neck pressing on the exiting nerves. As you can see whiplash  symptoms are very similar to those of concussion. However these symptoms will resolve or improve temporarily with chiropactic adjustments, massage and other modalities aimed at controlling swelling of the soft tissue and reducing nerve pressure from the neck structures.

Bottomline: If your child has suffered a head injury with or without loss of consciousness get them checked asap by your medical doctor or sports chiropractor. Don’t let them return to play if they are still experiencing headaches or dizziness. Make sure not to ignore the potential neck injury that may occur with or without the diagnosis of concussion leading to some of the same symptoms of concussion

Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears before a game ...
Image via Wikipedia



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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dr. John June 13, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Nice article doctor. I am researching concussions right now and any additional information is appreciated. Thanks.


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