You have been diagnosed with a concussion. Now what? There are many treatment options available to you. Concussion symptoms are successfully addressed by such treatments as Acupuncture, Naturopathic Medicine, Osteopathic Manual Techniques, Physiotherapy to name a few. Here are brief overviews how each therapy can address concussion treatment.
Acupuncture for Concussion
Acupuncture is a gentle and safe therapeutic method that can be used along side many other therapies in the concussion recovery process. It corrects the flow of Qi and blood travelling inside the channels throughout the body. In Chinese Medicine it is thought that Qi is the leader and wherever Qi goes blood goes. In concussion, trauma to the head can interrupts the flow of both Qi and blood, which cause insufficient brain nourishment. Fundamentally, an acute concussion can be viewed as increased metabolic demands. Neurons and axons need more fuel sources to generate ATP, such as glucose. Shortly after a concussion, the cerebral blood flow and the delivery of those fuel sources is decreased. But, acupuncture can help to improve normal blood flow into the affected areas of the brain, allowing a faster recovery. It also has a regulatory effect on all internal organs’ function including brain. More specifically, it can be used as part of a concussion recovery program for many reasons, including the following:
- Blood Flow to the Brain: Acupuncture facilitates the blood flow to the brain allowing a better response to the increased metabolic demands caused by the concussion.
- Pain Relief: Acupuncture can help alleviate the pain caused by common concussion complications such as: Headaches, neckaches, and muscle tensions.
- Relief from Nausea: Nausea can also be a problem following concussions, seen in both the acute stage and in post-concussion syndrome. Acupuncture can help reduce the severity and frequency of nausea.
- Other complications: Acupuncture can also be effective in treating insomnia, fatigue and headaches while improving concentration and memory.
-Each concussion case has to be treated individually based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis to ensure the best chance of recovery.
As soon as the primary phase of healing is over, and daily activities are restarted, adding acupuncture on a weekly basis will help to speed up the recovery and alleviate the symptoms.
Naturopathy for Concussions
Concussions are complex injuries to the brain characterized by inflammation and changes in function. Different people experience concussions differently, and the length of time needed to fully recover can be unpredictable. It’s very important to remember that – particularly for children – complete recovery is critical to reduce the chances of long-term impairment and potentially subsequent concussions.
The most important thing is to rest, only increasing mental and physical activity once symptom free, and reducing activity again if symptoms return (this includes even reading and screen time!).
Gentle movement (if tolerable) is important to encourage blood flow and circulation to the brain. Following a step-wise return to work or play is critical for complete recovery.
Naturopathic medicine can help with recovery from concussions. The most useful strategies help to reduce inflammation in the brain, and can also relieve symptoms. Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant agents have been shown to be effective at improving time to recovery. These include familiar products like turmeric, ginger, gingko and fish oil – talk to me for specifics on product selection and dosing. Diet alone, however, can have profound benefits. Reducing inflammation-inducing foods in the diet and emphasizing healthy options can be very helpful. See the table below for some guidelines.
|“SMASH” fish – sardines, mackeral, anchovies, salmon and herring; a good quality fish oil; olive oil||Free sugar, added or naturally occurring (eg. fruit juice)|
|Nuts and seeds, lentils and legumes||Refined oils (eg. canola, trans-fats)|
|Moderate amounts of whole grains||Red meat, conventionally raised poultry, farmed fish|
|Plenty of onions, garlic, herbs and spice||Refined flour products (white bread, pasta, rice|
|Brightly coloured fruits and veggies – half the diet!||Added salt and artificial flavours|
There are a range of herbs that are beneficial for the various symptoms associated with concussions, including headaches, nausea, brain fog and mood changes. Consult with me for what is best for your particular experience.
Some homeopathic medicines are classically recommended for head injuries; Arnica is well-known for any kind of trauma, and could be added to a plan for concussion recovery.
Physical therapies such as acupuncture, osteopathy, massage and physiotherapy can be helpful for muscle tension and pain management.
Osteopathy for Concussion
Osteopathic philosophy recognizes that small alterations in structure and function can influence the whole. Traumatic forces can alter the intimate relationships of the cranial bones, cranial nerves, lymphatics, blood vessels and brain, causing this wide variety of symptoms.
The role of an Osteopath is to remove restrictions, correct imbalances, and thus to restore health using Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT). OMT has been shown to reduce symptoms related to concussion including headache, fatigue, dizziness and balance issues.
OMT can help facilitate recovery from concussion co-injuries such as sprains, strains, contusions, fractures as well alterations in endocrine, cardiac, vascular, respiratory, digestive and immune function.
OMT helps to restore balance and helps facilitate the self-healing capacity of the body. As Dr A.T. Still noted in the late 19th century, a healthy state requires that all parts – bones, tissues and fluids move as a synchronized whole.
At your visit an osteopath will take a thorough history and perform a physical exam. A gentle hands-on approach will be used to address restricted tissues, bones and fluids. Most people find the treatments to be relaxing. Response to OMT for concussion related injuries can vary.
Some patients experience immediate symptom relief, while others will require several treatments. The frequency of OMT is individualized and tailored to the patient’s response to each osteopathic treatment.
Physiotherapy for Concussions
Concussions are different from other injuries, such a sprain ankle, because they are often referred to as a neurological injury as oppose to a orthopaedic one. Even though there are lots of neurological impairments, physiotherapy can be a key component in recovery.
Cervical injuries are often overlooked as a potential cause of concussion symptoms. Headaches, dizziness, lack of coordination are all symptoms that can be originating from the cervical spine. Often, when people are diagnosed with a concussion, they are told their brain needs to heal and time is the only factor that will resolve their symptoms. A detail assessment of the neck to figure out if any of the symptoms are caused by a neck injury that may have occurred at the time of the concussion. Treatments such as manual therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture and laser therapy can significantly improve outcome and rate of recovery.
Dizziness, decrease balance and visual changes can be caused my injuries to the vestibular and ocular motor systems. Trauma to the head can cause dysfunction to structures in the ear. This can lead to dizziness, poor balance and coordination. In addition, concussions can often cause poor tracking, scanning, and focus in the visual systems. Treatments can include specific exercises to help retrain these systems and restore their function.
Physiotherapists can help with the assessment of concussion symptoms and developing a plan to return to normal activities. Concussions can be a frustrating recovery with some good days and some really bad days. Sometimes just doing the basics will exacerbate your symptoms. Other times, you feel much better just to crash the next day. So when should you do more or less. Careful monitoring and a progressive return to activity will help. A physiotherapist is a great professional to help with this.