Head trauma is a complex condition which must be dealt with instantly. It occurs most commonly in sporting activities, road traffic accidents, and fights. Traumatic brain injury can lead to a number of complications, resulting ultimately in death, and needs a proper workup. As a multidisciplinary team of doctors works together, the patient must have an answer: Can a chiropractor help with concussion?
Yes, for sure, chiropractic adjustments for concussions are a well-known treatment option. But before going into details about how and what chiropractors can do for a concussion, it is necessary to understand the basic pathophysiology of concussion.
Let us dive into the details of concussions, the role of chiropractors, and the benefits of chiropractic care.
A concussion is a brain injury that occurs after a blow to the head, face, and ear. This mechanical bumping and jolting cause the brain to collide multiple times with the walls of the bony skull surrounding it. This collision causes two types of injuries to the brain:
1. Coup injury
This coup injury is basically an injury that is caused by a blow directly transmitted to brain tissue.
2. Countercoup injury
An injury that occurs opposite the site of trauma.
Concussion commonly develops in sports injuries especially footballers are victims. While discussing sports injuries, “Phillip Hughes,” a famous name, comes to one’s mind who died of a bouncer hitting his helmet.
It’s vital to see a medical specialist for neurological assessment instantly after trauma and management if needed; otherwise, get admitted to the hospital for keen observation as symptoms may start appearing 3-5 hours after the accident. Post-concussion syndrome is the worst complication to develop if not managed well.
Signs and Symptoms
Concussion symptoms can begin within seconds to a few hours and may persist for a week to ten days if treated. If not treated, then symptoms may imprint permanent hazards on patients’ lives, such as Post Concussion Syndrome and paralysis of limbs on either side.
|Headache and dizziness
|One pupil is larger than the other.
|Nausea and vomiting
|Lack of coordination in movements
|Tinnitus (ringing ears) and vertigo
|Photophobia (increased sensitivity to light)
|Recurrent seizures or fits
|Phonophobia (increased sensitivity to sound)
|Appears dazed or stunned
|Transient loss of consciousness. It may prolong.
|Decreased power of limbs on either side or paralysis
|Blurring of vision or diplopia (double vision)
A Neurologist or a Chiropractor for Concussion?
In case of a concussion, patients present to the emergency department first, where a medicine specialist attends them. After getting imaging and labs done, he decides whether to refer the patient to a neurologist or not.
A neurologist is a person who specializes in the brain and spinal cord. So he is the right person to visit first. While chiropractors, through their noninvasive holistic approach, offer supportive treatment for cervical spine misalignments, musculoskeletal problems, and persistent headaches.
What Can a Chiropractor do for Concussion?
A licensed chiropractor who has done extra workshops on the management of concussions can be effective in providing supportive therapies to patients. Still, before that, he will assess the patient’s condition.
To assess the severity of trauma is as much required because the treatment line is decided according findings of the assessment. Following pattern chiropractors follow while assessing the patient:
In the assessment of a concussion, collecting a comprehensive medical history is pivotal. This includes
- Details about incident
- Any previous concussions
- Record of previous symptoms i.e., vertigo, nausea, and vomiting.
The chiropractor will observe
- How patient sees
- Orientaion in time, space, and person.
Chiropractors check the neurological status of patients by performing brief examination techniques.
- Confrontation test
- Pupil size and light test
- Blood pressure
- Respiratory rate and pattern
- Look for any blood oozing out of the nose or ears
- Sensory examination
- Deep and superficial reflexes
- Balance tests for the vestibular system
Important red flags
It’s important to differentiate between different patients which patient is an emergency, who will wait, and who is all alright and needs no treatment. Therefore, we have established some red flags for concussion patient who needs multidisciplinary care.
- Blurring of vision
- Recurrent vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Motor dysfunction
- Amnesia, either retrograde or anterograde
- Multiple seizures
Following are the important investigations after a concussion to diagnose it:
- Baselines (CBC, RFT, LFT, PT/PTTK)
- X-RAY of face and skull
- Ct brain
- Mri brain
How Can a Chiropractor Help with Concussion?
Adjustments of Spine
While discussing treatment by a chiropractor, it is not possible to ignore the neck adjustment after a concussion because it is the first-line therapy that chiropractors offer.
Usually, a spinal subluxation(misalignment) can occur along with a concussion, especially in C1 vertebrae. C1 misalignments can cause persistent headaches. Cervical adjustment is a very simple, noninvasive treatment in which a patient lies on a flat table. It requires loose clothes so that body parts can be moved freely, and the chiropractor manipulates to align it.
Thoracic segment T6 subluxation can cause gut problems, and Lumbar vertebrae subluxation can lead to sciatica. This tells how spinal misalignments can cause chronic problems, so chiropractors, through their spinal adjustments are the solution.
After trauma to the head, conditions like BPPV or internal bleeds into the middle ear can cause balancing problems in patients; to correct these problems, chiropractors can do a number of maneuvers:
- Epley’s maneuver
- BBQ roll
Trauma to the head causing brain injury has long-term, hazardous effects such as paralysis either of one side or both sides. These paralytic parts of the body require continuous therapeutic exercises, which chiropractors teach to patients and attendants and frequently arrange follow-up sessions to augment the previous exercises with the new ones.
How do these treatments work?
The options chiropractors use to treat concussions work through the following basic mechanisms:
- By Increasing blood flow to the brain
- Speeding up the healing process.
Chiropractors often prescribe patients to perform some exercises at home for ocular and neuromuscular problems.
Follow-ups in concussions with a chiropractor are very important in neuromuscular, ocular, cervical, and vestibular rehab. The duration between follow-ups depends upon the progression of the patient’s condition towards betterment.
Benefits of Chiropractic Care
Chiropractors following their holistic approach are considered to have a bunch of benefits for concussion treatment.
- Enhancement of range of motion of weakened limbs
- Pain relief
- Normalizes eye movements
- Helps in the coordination of body movements
- Relief from headache and dizziness
- Enhances postural correction
- Enhances life quality
- Decreased dependency on long-term pain medications
- Personalized treatment
Chiropractors can recommend specific exercises or techniques to manage these symptoms. They also provide advice on how to return to daily activities, sports, or work gradually.
Remember, everyone’s recovery process is different; it depends on the portion of the brain that got injured, so it’s important to follow the personalized plan provided by the chiropractor. Regular check-ins allow them to adjust the plan as needed, ensuring a safe and effective recovery.
1. What is the best therapy for a concussion?
The best therapy for a concussion often involves a combination of rest, a gradual return to normal activities, and specific therapies like vestibular therapy for balance issues and cognitive therapy for thinking difficulties. It’s important to have a healthcare provider guide this process for the safest and most effective recovery.
2. Is chiropractic good for the brain?
Due to the subluxation of vertebrae, the pathway between the brain and body is obstructed, so chiropractors open these channels through which impulses are transmitted by aligning the spine.
3. What is the disadvantage of chiropractors?
Chiropractors, as mentioned earlier in the blog, help concussions mainly through spinal adjustments, so there are many chances of the spinal cord getting injured. Disadvantage due to this injury can result in headache, sciatica, or any other neurological deficit.
4. Can a chiropractor fix brain fog?
Brain fog is basically the inability to focus. Yes, a chiropractor, through alignments of the spine and some other supportive therapies, can increase the ability of the patient to focus on one point.
5. Can chiropractors help with memory?
The cerebellum is the part of the brain that is chiefly involved in the formation of memory. Recent research has stated that cerebellar function improves through chiropractic style of treatment such as aligning the spine.
Indeed, chiropractors play a pivotal role in concussion management. They offer personalized guidance, helping patients understand their injuries, manage symptoms, and navigate their recovery journey effectively.
Specific exercises, techniques, and therapies suggested by chiropractors can address common concussion symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and balance issues. But before visiting a chiropractor, you must ask for a referral from a medical specialist or your neurologist.
We tried to provide a summarised overview of “Can a Chiropractor help with concussion?”. Hope you will provide feedback to our blog after reading it. Special thanks to Dr.John, who facilitated us in writing such an informative blog.
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