Concussion is a form of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) that is described as a head trauma resulting in disorientation, impaired or loss of consciousness lasting 30 minutes or less in combination with a number of neurological and cognitive symptoms. There is an estimated cost of $17 billion dollars each year for the care of people with mTBI in the US, with an estimate of 1.6 to 3.8 million cases of brain injury related to sports activities. While most patients will have symptomatic recovery within 10 days, approximately 10% of patients will experience symptoms lasting beyond the normal recovery period and become diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome (PCS).
Recent research reporting on two women suffering from post-concussion syndrome, headaches and vertigo following trauma reveals that chiropractic may play an important role in these types of problems.
The research, reported in the Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research also includes a review of the scientific literature and a detailed description of why chiropractic can help.
“Research is revealing that there is a relationship between structural abnormalities in the spine, the nervous and vascular systems and various parts of the brain related to trauma” stated Dr. Matthew McCoy, a chiropractor, public health researcher and editor of the journal that published the study. “Basic science research shows that the proper functioning of the brain and its ability to function, coordinate movement and balance relies on proper structure and movement of the spine and that this can be severely affected by trauma and concussion.”
Research has shown not only that the brain relies on normal structural integrity and joint movement, but that complex neurological communication and pathways involved in helping humans balance and orient themselves in space are tied into spinal biomechanics and their related neurological pathways.
“It makes perfect sense when you think about it” stated Dr. McCoy. “The effects of a concussion including pain, brain fog, vertigo, dizziness, coordination and balance problems may be related to how the entire body communicates with the brain and the most critical area for this is the spine and the most critical area of the spine is the upper part of the neck – it’s literally a chokepoint.”
According to McCoy “People’s nervous systems need the constant stimulation of movement in order to develop and function properly. Abnormal structural shifts can occur in the spine and these structural shifts can lead to obstruction of the nerves and it is this obstruction, called vertebral subluxations, that chiropractors correct.
The two women reported on in the study presented with symptoms including dizziness, ringing in the ears, headaches, migraine, brain fog and vertigo and poor concentration. One was missing school days, and couldn’t read or study without difficulty. The other young woman had daily migraines, vertigo, neck pain, back pain, fatigue, anxiety, sleeping problems and depression. Both had experienced significant trauma – one from a fall off a horse and the other from a car accident.
Previous treatments with physical therapists, acupuncturists, otolaryngologist and neurologists did not resolve their suffering.
They were both examined by a chiropractor who also took x-rays and found abnormal structural shifts in their necks. These structural shifts can occur in the spine and lead to obstruction of the nerves and blood supply to the brain. It is this obstruction, called vertebral subluxations, that chiropractors correct.
Following chiropractic care both women reported remarkable improvement in their symptoms and were able to return to normal functioning and get their lives back. The author of the study called for more research on the role of chiropractic in managing patients suffering from concussion.