We know concussions are bad. As more and more research comes out, we are really starting to understand just how bad, and gain greater insight into the long term effects of this type of brain injury. A few years ago, we understood bruising the brain was bad, but we didn’t really understand exactly what happens, and how the effects might linger.
To understand what happens, we need to look at a key point of brain anatomy. You may have heard of the blood-brain barrier, this barrier is vital to keeping our brain safe. The barrier is a permeable membrane, that surrounds the brain. Its job is to allow in nutrients and fluid that the brain needs and keep out harmful substances that can damage the tissues.
In a significant concussion, (or Traumatic Brain Injury) the blood-brain barrier can be torn and allow harmful chemicals and minerals to enter the brain. This causes the body’s immune response to kick in. While an immune response is usually good, in the brain it can lead to cell death and damage. If there is a loss of consciousness, this process becomes even more harmful due to a lack of oxygen for a short period of time.
Activating the immune response leads to deposits of a certain type of plaque. Think about heart disease, and what we know about plaque. It accumulates in the arteries and begins to block them. In the brain this plaque can block nerve transmission and cause certain areas to malfunction. These plaques are a hallmark sign in Alzheimer’s disease, and help explain why the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease is increased following head trauma. Much has been said surrounding CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) in NFL players. This is due to multiple head injuries. The greatest risk seems to occur when a previous concussion is not fully healed, and a new injury occurs. This short circuits the healing process, and leads the brain’s immune response to overact, and create even more plaque in an effort to heal.
One of the most common outcomes of traumatic brain injury (concussion) is depression. This is due to reduced levels of serotonin (the happy hormone) and a disruption in brain communication in vital areas. Those who have suffered a TBI are also at double the risk of developing addiction issues due to the loss of serotonin.
Often the most debilitating part of this injury is the loss of cognitive ability, which includes attention span, memory, and decision making capabilities. For some it’s a short term issue, but for some it can be long term. The amount of nerve injury, inflammation, and malfunction can lead to a foggy brain that doesn’t function at the speed or accuracy it did prior to the injury.
Roughly 80% of those that suffer a concussion or TBI return to reasonably normal function in two to six weeks. The other 20% continue to suffer symptoms. After three months, this is termed Post Concussion Syndrome or PCS.
This is often a by product of the associated whiplash injury that occurs in most head traumas. Headaches, dizziness, and foggy thinking are often seen in PCS. The upper neck injury, and subsequent misalignment reduces blood flow to the brain and causes interference to nerve transmission. If it is not addressed, symptoms can linger for months or even years.
This is an area where upper cervical chiropractic has shined in terms of helping people recover. By restoring the upper neck to the proper position (without turning or twisting the neck) the whiplash injury heals, and the brain is able to receive what it needs and symptoms generally subside.
If you’ve had a concussion at any time in your life and have been experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, a short, non-invasive upper cervical examination can determine whether or not this correction can be the answer. Call today for your free consultation at Upper Cervical Health Centers of Fort Myers!
Dr. Lee Angle
Dr. Lee Angle is originally from southern West Virginia. After having his life changed through Upper Cervical Care he chose to pursue it as a career. He has been practicing Upper Cervical Chiropractic for over nine years. Dr. Angle previously worked as a certified personal trainer. This background allows him to educate his patients on proper movement and exercises to speed their recovery and enhance their Upper Cervical Care.