When hockey genius Sidney Crosby suffered from a series of concussions (1) that first dated back to January 1, 2011, his hockey playing days appeared to be over. Then he heard about a concussion treatment and met a chiropractor.
Crosby is now back to his normal awesome self, dominating last season with 36 goals, 68 assists, an impressive 18+/- and 104 total points in just 80 games! He also just won his second gold medal. Crosby credits Canadian-born Ted Carrick for saving his career.
You may have never heard of Ted Carrick, but he’s part of Sid the Kid’s medical care team and the founder of a chiropractic method called Functional Neurology. If you, or someone you know, has suffered from a concussion, concussion treatment help is available but you don’t necessarily need to travel to one of Carrick’s Brain Centers (2) to get help.
Crosby received fantastic results under Carrick’s care, and visited Life University (3) many times during his recovery, but studies have shown that you don’t need to see only one type of chiropractor to experience relief from concussion symptoms. In fact, all chiropractors can help.
Concussion Treatment and The Problem
Unfortunately, concussion treatment and concussion-related symptoms continue to perplex health care professionals. According to an article in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine:
“Despite high levels of publicity and advances in research regarding concussion, the care and management plans for concussion are transitional.” Meaning, they are not consistent and are not universally accepted by all doctors.
“An evidence-based ‘criterion standard’ for concussion management has yet to be defined and accepted,” which basically gives doctors free range to manage their concussion protocol in the manner in which they believe is necessary.
“Although the appropriate approach to management continues to be developed, a focus on concussion awareness and education has been emphasized as a way to protect athletes from mismanagement and prevention of catastrophic and long-term injury.” (4)
This is why it is very important for patients and parents of children who have suffered from concussions to be as involved as possible in the care and management protocol their doctor recommends. Provide input and feedback. Read articles like this one. Do your homework.
Concussion Treatment: Sports-Related Concussions
As stated by the most recent research, Crosby is not alone: (5) 3.8 million sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur annually and 173,285 occur among children and adolescents, from birth to 19 years.
As chiropractor Dr. B.J. Hardick (6) points out, “Diagnosing a concussion can be a little tricky, however, which makes some experts question this data. Concussion symptoms depend on the person and the injury, and they may not be noticeable for hours or even days.”
However, global authorities advise that these concussion treatment symptoms are comparatively common:
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Being bothered by light or noise
- Double or blurry vision
- Difficulty remembering or paying attention
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
- Feeling irritable, more emotional, or “down”
- Nausea or vomiting
- Slowed reaction time
- Sleep problems
- Loss of consciousness
Children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recuperate than adults. Typical sports-related concussions resolve quickly, with complete symptom resolution in 10 days or less, but some atypical concussions leave an individual with long-lasting symptoms.
If someone has recently experienced one or more of these symptoms after hitting their head or falling, they should contact their medical doctor or chiropractor immediately.
How Chiropractors Can Help You With Treatment for Concussion
Chiropractors with specific post-graduate coursework are very well suited to care for concussion patients. If possible, consider having your MD and a chiropractor co-manage your concussion care. (7)
Doctors of Chiropractic (DC’s) may evaluate, diagnose, and manage concussion patients. The pre-requisite management skills for a concussed athlete can be supported by additional education.
DC’s who have sought post-graduate certification within sports health care (sometimes, but not always identified by a DACBSP or CCSP), have taken particular interest in the management of sports injuries including concussions.
Because the area of injury in the case of a concussion is at the skull and/or upper cervical spine, chiropractors who utilize precise X-ray analysis of the occiput and cervical vertebrae, and work to specifically reduce misalignments in this area, should also be incorporated into the health care management of any concussion patient.
According to researchers:
“It appears that some neurological deficits persist beyond the current return-to-play standards and that discrepancy exists between common practices of returning athletes to competition and new standards of published research.”
Essentially, most medical interventions normally have a restricting outcome on concussion patients, which proposes that alternative methods should be considered.
Concussion Treatment: The Research
It is important to note that, according to the scientific literature, no articles report adverse outcomes of chiropractic management of an athlete with concussion. (8)
A recent review of chiropractic and concussion literature offers some promising hope for people, especially those that suffer from the residual effects of concussions as mentioned above. Additionally, several case studies have shown that gentle, specific chiropractic adjustments can offer a great deal of help for athletes suffering from concussion symptoms and residual effects:
- A report written by Dr. Elster in 2003 discusses the situation of a 23-year-old professional ice skater that experienced unbelievable results after chiropractic care. When she hit her head against the ice and sustained a concussion, the skater experienced unrelenting headaches for over 12 years. Using pain medications to help cope with the pain, she gave up hope that her life could ever be pain free. Thankfully, she visited a chiropractor and after 3 months, all of her symptoms were gone. (9)
- In 2011, a report was published of a 16-year-old male athlete with post-concussion neck pain and daily headaches. After just two adjustments, the young man experienced “significant relief,” and complete resolution of his symptoms just 5 visits later. To his delight, he was back on the field afterwards and returned to play full games … symptom free! (10)
Beyond headaches, post-concussion patients with positional vertigo can be found as well. (11)
These DCs specialize in correcting vertebral misalignments (subluxations) of the top bone in the spine (the “atlas”) (12). This is just one of the many approaches chiropractors can take to manage concussion patients.
According to the study, “Immediately after the first adjustment the patient experienced a more normal gait and resolution of her altered walking pattern. The patient was managed for a duration of two months and reported complete recovery from seizures, altered walking pattern, blood pressure stability and improved hearing.” (13)
- The next year, Dr. Sweat reported a similar story involving a 75-year old woman who had a history of concussions and experienced a wide variety of symptoms including: fatigue, gait ataxia (staggered walking), strabismus (crossed-eye syndrome), and migraines. After treatment, “The patient’s symptoms were quickly and painlessly reduced and/or resolved.” (14)
Chiropractic adjustments can work very well with concussion patients, and it’s encouraging to know that help (and hope) isn’t too far away.
I explain it to patients this way:
Cervical spine subluxation can produce many of the same symptoms just like the rattling of the brain during a concussion. If there’s enough physical trauma to agitate the brain, there’s definitely enough to subluxate the spine.
Don’t assume that every post-trauma symptom you have is a result of a concussion… In fact, a good number could be as a result of the subluxation of the neck. Not every symptom is a result of a concussion. A good number result from neck subluxation.
If you or a loved-one has suffered a concussion, or you think you may have a concussion based on the symptoms above, contact your local chiropractor immediately.