CAN CHIROPRACTORS HELP CONCUSSIONS?
Thoughts and advice from chiropractor, Dr Wendy Coburn
In the U.S., there are a minimum of 300,000 sport-related concussions per year. If your child is in contact sports, there’s a risk of the contact ending up in a concussion. In fact research suggests that the number of documented cases of concussions among children is on the rise, and is source of growing concern among soccer and football players.
Chiropractors may not be the first medical professional you imagine when it comes to concussion management, but many chiropractors are trained to spot the signs of a mild traumatic brain injury, and support the patient in a successful recovery. Two recent literature reviews outlined how chiropractors can effectively manage athletes with concussions.
Is Chiropractic Treatment Valid for Concussion?
Chiropractors are often the first health care provider to care for patients who are suffering from a head injury, such as those incurred in sports or car accidents. Chiropractors, especially ones who are certified additionally by the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians, regularly manage athletes who suffer from concussions.
Chiropractors use a specific assessment tool called the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 2 (SCAT2) to evaluate, assess, and manage concussions in athletes 10 years and older with the end goal of safely returning the athlete back to the sport. This assessment tool is used to evaluate symptoms, physical signs, Glasgow Coma Scale, sideline assessment using Maddocks score, cognitive assessment, balance, and coordination.
They understand that if certain symptoms are indicators that the neurological symptoms are worsening:
Because a concussion is a brain injury caused by a direct blow to the head, neck or face, there’s a good chance that the blow has caused a misalignment of the cervical spine. This is similar to whiplash causing a misalignment of the cervical spine. A chiropractor can evaluate whether you demonstrate signs of neck injuries commonly associated with concussions, and provide you with relief of neck pain and cervicogenic headaches/from the neck 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 your child is in sports and suffers a blow to the head, and/or experiences signs of a concussion, do not let him 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, aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications, and sleep agents should be taken. Use Tylenol for pain if necessary. Do not drive until you can return to the sport.
In the meantime, your chiropractor will care for your child’s cervical spine and condition. If your child needs to be referred out to another health professional, your chiropractor will let you know.
Now let’s ask the question again. Chiropractic for concussion? Absolutely?
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.
Johnson, C.D., et al. Chiropractic and concussion in sport: a narrative review of the literature.Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2013 (12):216-229.
Shane, E.R., et al. Sports Chiropractic management of concussions using the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool 2 symptom scoring, serial examinations, and graded return to play protocol: a retrospective case series. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2013 (12): 252-9.
Reduces Pain – Promotes Healing
FDA-Cleared, Non-Invasive, Drug-Free Therapy
High Intensity Laser Therapy (HILT) is an FDA-cleared treatment option that is unique in its ability to penetrate through bone, soft tissue, and muscle to deliver healing light energy to the cells of the body. HILT can reduce pain, minimize swelling. Soften scar tissue, and reset the chronic pain cycle- all while healing damaged tissues
A Different Treatment Approach
There are a variety of options for treating acute and chronic pain. Pain medications and spinal injections may provide temporary comfort, but they do nothing to address the root cause of the pain- once the medication wears off, the pain returns. They can also be accompanied by serious side effects including other health problems, depression, and addiction. Surgery is expensive, carries its own set of major risks, recovery can last for week or months, and the success rates are not as high as you might expect.
Laser Therapy is Different
It is non-invasive, drug-free approach that treats the underlying cause of the pain by actually repairing damaged cells.
Is it Safe?
YES. Laser therapy has been cleared by the FDA for treating pain. It has been used in Europe since the 1970’s and has been trusted by elite athletes around the world to accelerate recovery. Laser therapy has no known side effects when used by a properly trained professional.
What to Expect During Treatment
The penetrating light from the laser feels warm on the body, and many patients find the soothing, warming sensation to be very relaxing. The therapeutic effects of HILT continue to work within your body even after your treatment session is complete.
It is important to know that Laser Therapy has been shown to have a cumulative effect, meaning that it requires a series of treatments for the laser to be able to do its job, with each session building upon the one before. While some patients feel immediate relief after just a few treatments, for most the response is more subtle and gradual.
How Does Laser Therapy Work?
The light energy from the laser stimulates healing within your body through a series of biological changes at the cellular level.
Speeds Tissue Repair and Cell Growth- accelerates cellular reproduction and growth by starting DNA and RNA repairs inside of the cells. Cells of cartilage, bones, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and muscle are repaired faster as a result of exposure to laser light.
Softens Scar Tissue- softens existing scar tissue and reduces the formation of new scar tissue following tissue damage. This is important because after an injury, the body heals with a tight, fibrous network of scar tissue. Scar tissue is less elastic, has poor circulation, is sensitive to pain, is weaker, and is much more prone to re-injury. HILT can soften scar tissue so that the doctor can work with the tissue to lengthen the fibers enabling more movement and mobility.
Relieves Pain- reduces pain by increasing the production of pain-killing chemicals, such as endorphins and enkephalins, from the brain and adrenal gland.
Resets Chronic Pain Cycle- chronic pain signals are actually memorized in the nerve switching stations in the body called interneurons. For example, pain that is felt in the knee is memorized in the interneurons near the spinal cord. The laser light reaches into the interneurons to reset that pain memory. It doesn’t erase it completely, but it acts as an analgesic to suppress the nerve signals that transmit the sensation of pain to the brain.
Reduces Swelling- provides an anti-inflammatory effect, as it causes vasodilatation (expansion of blood vessels) and activation of the lymphatic drainage system. As a result, there is a reduction in swelling caused by stress, trauma, overuse, or systemic conditions.
Improves Blood Flow- improves vascular activity and increases the formation of new capillaries (angiogenesis) in damaged tissues. This enables the body to deliver more oxygen and other vital nutrients to the treated area to speed healing.
Improves Nerve Function- accelerates the process of nerve cell regeneration and improves the communication between the nerves and the brain.
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