You don’t have to be a football player to hit your head

A few years ago, Will Smith starred in a movie called “Concussion.” He later reported he was disappointed because it didn’t create the buzz about the long-term effects of concussions that he was hoping for. Since 2015, whether it was sparked from Hollywood or not, I have noticed more and more talk about concussions, specifically about the delayed and persistent symptoms that people experience. Did you know that for many people who experience a head trauma, their symptoms do not become evident until days or weeks after the accident? Not only are they delayed to present themselves, but often the symptoms last for weeks, months, and even years. The collection of these symptoms are termed Post-concussion syndrome (PCS). Anything that shakes the brain can cause a concussion, and oddly enough the severity of the jolt to the brain does not necessarily seem to be correlated to the risk of PCS. brain Some symptoms people experience are more easily attributed to a head trauma, such as headaches, dizziness, stiff neck, and impaired concentration and memory. However, some symptoms are often dismissed and rarely linked to a previous concussion. Symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, ringing in the ears, sensitivity to noise and light, or anxiety can be overlooked since they often occur well after the accident. We have a patient who slipped in his work parking lot a few weeks ago and hit his head. He came for an adjustment right away (which is the right thing to do!). He seemed ok at first, but after a few days, he was having a hard time with fatigue, headaches, and sensitivity to light. He had to take a week off work because the lights were so bothersome. After a week he tried to go back, and he still couldn’t. We recommended acupuncture, and right after his first treatment, he felt relief in the forehead and more clarity. He kept on with both chiropractic and acupuncture and about a month after his fall he was able to return to work. On the outside, he looked fine…but you can’t see this from the outside. A doctor from Boston University wrote, “It’s a big problem for the NFL, a bigger problem for amateur athletics and an even larger problem still for the greater public.” And it is so true. When a professional athlete hits their head, a medical team rushes onto the field and the athlete receives medical attention and evaluations almost immediately. But how often does a typical adult hit their head and have 5 specialists race to them with a stretcher? My guess is never. So how can you become your own medical team racing onto the field? There are certain things to be aware of after receiving a hit to the head, regardless how big or small the hit was.
  1. Watch for confusion and/or memory loss, one pupil being larger than the other, convulsions, slurring, extreme drowsiness – if any of these occur seek medical attention.
  2. A concussion can happen even if a person does not lose consciousness.
  3. Rest! You just got hit in the head. Take the time to allow yourself to heal.
  4. Our brain is our command center. Processing information may take longer as our brain works to reconnect the injured circuits. Be patient with yourself.
  5. Everyone will react differently after a head trauma. Don’t be shocked if what you experience is not the same as your friend who had a concussion.
  6. Someone who has experienced one concussion is more likely to have a subsequent concussion – for certain activities consider wearing a helmet!
The good news is that acupuncture and chiropractic can help! As many of you are aware, we can use acupuncture to encourage blood flow to specific areas, such as the head. Where there is better circulation, there is better healing and nourishment of tissues! Acupuncture can help with many of the symptoms of PCS such as headaches, fatigue, anxiety, decreased focus, dizziness, sleep issues and more. Chiropractic adjustments will often focus on the upper spine where a lot of tightness and stiffness can occur causing issues with pain and headaches. If you have unexplained symptoms and hit your head some time ago, maybe these things are related. Talk to your practitioner about how we can help! We are hosting a Facebook Live seminar on Thursday, March 22nd at 7 pm about concussions. Join us online! By Hannah Lohnes

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