Last year, The Total Learning Center in Wexford, PA hosted a seminar for parents to learn about concussions. I was joined by local pediatrician, Dr. Anthony Kovatch, and Dr. Carol Utay, director of the center. The presentation focused on what symptoms occur when a child suffers from a concussion and what warning signs need immediate emergency room care. These seminars typically revolve around parent education. But I can honestly say that what I learned that day from the listening to the parents was certainly eye-opening for me, as a practitioner.
I spoke to the group about the dynamics that occur during a concussion and the damage they cause. I explained the anatomy of the cranium, how all of the cranial bones move in a rhythmic motion, and that this motion has a direct affect on brain function. I described the role of the cerebrospinal fluid and how a concussion decreases the cranial bone movement, which decreases cerebrospinal fluid flow.
Central Nervous System Waste
I further stated that this decrease in cerebrospinal fluid flow inhibits the removal of the waste products produced in the central nervous system. This flow is critical, because the waste that remains in the cranial vault longer than normal will begin to kill brain cells. Dead brain cells leads to decreased brain function in both cognitive and motor function.
The damage to the brain cells and the decreased function is the reason so many of the retired NFL players have the severe issues that worsen with age. There has even been talk that ALS is caused by concussion. While this hasn’t been confirmed, it is, theoretically, very plausible.
I’m a bottom line kind of doctor. I attempt to reach the quickest, least invasive solution to my patient’s problems. The bottom line in treating a concussion is reestablishing the normal cranial bone movement. Without this, the brain simply can not, and will not, heal or return to pre-accident status.
Rest is Not a Treatment
‘Rest,’ which is the most commonly prescribed ‘treatment’ by doctors, simply does not ‘fix’ the problems caused by concussions. Resting will help the acute issues of the concussion go away (such as swelling, etc.), but rest does not return the cranial bones to their normal intrinsic movement. This needs to be done by a practitioner who practices that specialty.
So, why was I surprised by what some of the parents said that day? One woman, a nurse, explained that her daughter had a concussion. It interested her enough that she was invested herself into the concussion field through one of the local facilities. She acted as a self-appointed advocate, telling the other mothers that “it will get better,” and that her daughter had “fully recovered.”
She spoke about how they had a terrible road, and that her daughter suffered for a long time with the issues from her concussion. I listened and wondered how it was possible for her daughter to have a full recovery if she hadn’t been treated? Because of the knowledge of the physiology and mechanics of cranial bone movement and concussion, I knew it was impossible for her daughter to be fully recovered. To clarify, if the normal cranial bone movement hasn’t been restored, a patient will not recover.
I began to ask her questions about her daughter. Slowly, she admitted that her daughter was still experiencing difficulty in school and working slower than she did pre-accident. Her daughter even needed special consideration from her college to get through her course work. It was clear that this woman didn’t understand what actions were needed to recover from a concussion. I consider it a tragedy that her daughter will have to deal with special accommodations in college when her problems can easily be corrected.
Another eye-opening parent was a mother of a high school student who was more concerned about that fact that the school wasn’t paying attention to the legislated accommodations from the state. While these accommodations are a good thing and assist in the early stages of healing, she also missed the point. The problems her child was dealing with are treatable. The bottom line here is that the suffering from concussions is needless when there is a solution for the problems caused by them.
If you or someone you know suffers from a concussion, please sign up for a free phone consultation so we can get them on the road to a true recovery.