Friday, October 31, 2014
NFL, Concussions and Upper Cervical
(Editors Note: This is a few years old but still may provide useful information. Remember the objective of upper cervical care is to correct head neck misalignment that is interfering with proper brain to body communication. When this is corrected the body functions at a higher level and can often correct other problems more efficiently on its own. Please do not confuse upper cervical care as a treatment for any condition, disease or symptom.)
How the NFL concussion lawsuit is going to legitimize upper cervical chiropractic care
by Dr. Ward
If you don’t follow sports, you might be missing one of the most important stories to develop in the intersection between sports and health.
Over the past several years, multiple lawsuits have been filed against the National Football League on behalf of over 2,000 players who report experiencing symptoms of concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). The players say that repeat head trauma from playing professional football has lead to them to experience a body of symptoms similar to severe brain injury.
What are some of these symptoms? Headache, brain fog, confusion, ringing in the ears, fatigue, poor sleep quality, and depression.
What’s interesting about these symptoms is how similar they are to the symptoms patients often present with in upper cervical chiropractic offices. Upper cervical chiropractors often see the same pattern of symptoms, right down to the poor sleep quality, brain fog, and depression.
And not because their patients have played professional football.
The symptom connection between the NFL and upper cervical chiropractic patients
Rather, upper cervical chiropractic patients often have a history of playing high school sports. Of falling out of trees. Of being in motor vehicle accidents. Of falling down the stairs. Of being launched from a snow-mobile. Of having their head struck or their neck whip-lashed on one or more occasions.
These are also the same histories and symptoms of people who experience vertigo, migraines, multiple sclerosis (MS), and even other degenerative brain diseases, like Parkinsons.
These are also the same histories and symptoms of people that are being investigated by upright MRI. People who, with this new and different diagnostic tool, are being found to have significant changes in the function and position of their brain and neck. These same kind of symptoms are presenting in people with reduced flow of their cerebral spinal fluid. Or of partially closed vertebral arteries. Or even a partially descended lower brain being pulled into the spinal canal, called tonsillar ectopia.
So—what’s going here? What exactly does this mean? Well, it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen, but this is what I think will happen—broken down into three points.
Three predictions coming from the NFL concussion lawsuit
Medicine will starting looking at the brain, spinal cord, and spine together. The emphasis is on the together part. You see, except in extreme cases, medicine sees a brain injury as something that only exists in the brain. And a neck injury as only something that exists in the neck. But the blood, tissue, and cerebral spinal fluid are all continuous between these two parts of the body. Symptoms of brain trauma can actually be symptoms of neck trauma, and vice versa.
The extremely large prevalence of persons suffering with mild TBI and neck trauma will begin to be recognized as standard imaging for these studies (hospital x-rays, and normal MRI) are going to be found less and less helpful. There is an epidemic of brain fog, depression, concentration problems, and other similar symptoms in the general population that require more than just medication or watching and waiting. Case series in upright MRI and even microangiography (looking at small blood vessels in the neck and lower brain) will lead to complete recognition that physical trauma, especially upper neck injury, leads to a change in blood flow and CSF in the brain.
Because private enterprise, professional athletes, and billions of dollars in damages are involved, the NFL is going to be forced to lead the way in uncovering some of these connections in order to protect itself from further liability and protect its largest assets: its players. (To put things in perspective, these lawsuits may lead to settlement larger than the one wrangled from Big Tobacco.) The concussion that a quarterback took ten years ago may play a role in helping a future MS patient get the help they need.
Which brings us to the final point, captured in the title of this article. This developing information, coming from several independent studies and sources is going to legitimize what upper cervical chiropractors have known for years:
Neck trauma changes brain function. Reversing that trauma through specific adjustments can help restore that brain function.
You heard it here first—the NFL is going to legitimize upper cervical chiropractic care. And you’ll know its happening when upper cervical doctors using x-rays and precise adjusting techniques join the other chiropractors, physical therapists, and team trainers, who are already on the sidelines.