Concussion: More than getting your “bell” rung!
There’s no escaping the stream of headlines this football season about the effects of repeated concussions on the long-term mental health and mental function of football players. While the concerns behind those headlines focus on concussions involving brain injury (understandably so), that’s only part of the concussion story. Less attention is paid to the damaging effects of a concussion to the soft tissue and bones of the spine.
Unfortunately, my family experienced this type of injury firsthand just three weeks ago. My son, Michael, suffered a severe head injury when he fell off his longboard (type of skateboard). He was hospitalized in ICU for three days, with a double brain bleed and a severe concussion. He received wonderful care from Dr. Steven Fulop, a neurosurgeon, and the neurotrauma nurses at St. Mary’s. By the grace of God and lots of prayers, he’s recovering well. We are very grateful. But along with the continued cognitive improvement, he’s still experiencing neck and upper back discomfort.
With this article, I want to create awareness that after treating the initial brain injury (concussion), you need to be diligent in getting your cervical spine evaluated and treated. Because as chiropractors, we’re very aware of the post-traumatic effects that an acute deceleration/acceleration type injury has on the spine. Post-traumatic arthritis is the most common type of arthritis we see in the spine.
Symptoms of a concussion
Numerous studies have shown that it is very difficult to delineate between the symptoms of a concussion and/or whiplash-type injury. They are both deceleration/acceleration injuries. ALL concussions leave some type of cervical spine-whiplash damage. Unfortunately, the spine is often left untreated. More studies show that when you combine cervical spine mobilization to the concussion protocol, the post-concussive symptoms subside faster.
The well-known ice hockey player, Sidney Crosby, suffered two concussions close together in 2012. He missed significant playing time. It was reported that “Sidney Crosby’s latest concussion-related layoff may not be a concussion after all, but rather a more treatable neck injury that went undiagnosed and untreated for weeks, if not months” (Paul Hunter CBC 2012). Rest assured, my son will be receiving intensive chiropractic care over the next few weeks to minimize the long-term damage to his spine.
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