The “concussion” topic is considerably en vogue these days, particularly in light of recent controversies involving the National Football League, the National Hockey League, and more presciently youth soccer. In our practice concussions are one of the most severe effects of injury in youth and are often ignored, misdiagnosed or inappropriately treated. To be fair to most physicians, the American Academies of Family Practice and Neurology seem to be in constant upheaval over best practices guidelines pertaining to concussion and so-called mTBI or “minor traumatic brain injuries” based on the ever-evolving scientific research, but one thing is certain: rest and targeted “brain exercise” seems to be essential in the initial stages of injury to prevent chronic, irreversible damage.
What confounds me most when I see children who have suffered a concussion is how laissez-faire and cavalier most doctors are with respect to rehabilitation. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the effects of mTBIs simply “heal” themselves. Certainly an immediate return to typical activities of daily living are absolutely contraindicated, particularly when those activities involve reading and watching a backlit computer monitor. There is no more superior source of healing directive than the brain and if the brain is injured, all bets are off. Typically, children who have suffered concussions present to my clinic in the post-concussive state: lethargic, depressed and generally unhappy with accompanying symptoms such as headaches, neck pain and dizziness. These symptoms are often glossed over or ignored by traditional physicians who usually only have pharmaceuticals at their disposal to treat symptoms. Suffice it to say, these symptoms are never ok in a child. Ever. To ignore the symptoms and pretend they’ll resolve on their own is even worse.
Luke came to our office several months after hitting his head in a fall. His mother’s major concern at the time of his examination was a noticeable affect on Luke’s reading comprehension and learning. While the neurology surrounding this type of injury is complex, it was apparent during my examination that Luke had suffered considerable structural damage in the upper part of his spine as a consequence of the fall, which affected his ability to integrate learned information in a meaningful way. Initially, driving one of the parts of his brainstem that was affected – his medulla (lower brainstem) – via the upper part of spine was challenging because he couldn’t tolerate traditional high-velocity chiropractic adjustments, but over weeks and months he resolved completely as he began tolerate more sensory input from his musculoskeletal system and surrounding environment. Now approximately 7 months into care, Luke has exceeded expectations performing at the top of his class in school with no residual effects of the initial concussion remaining. This is the type of recovery we would expect from an otherwise healthy kiddo.
Dr Daniel Bronstein is the clinic director of Beacon Chiropractic in Grover Beach CA and specializes in the chiropractic care of children and pregnant mommas. He is Webster Technique Certified by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and devotes the core of practice to helping children and families live healthy lives.
Confidentiality Disclaimer: This case study contains privileged patient information that has been specifically authorized for distribution by (a) legal guardian(s). The clinical data contained herein is diagnostically accurate, but may have been partially sanitized at the request of the patient’s legal guardian(s). It’s distribution is intended solely for educational and informational purposes and may not be redistributed without the expressed written consent of the patient’s legal guardian(s), nor may it be appropriated on the basis of medical diagnosis or treatment.