A concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a sudden blow to the head. A myriad of symptoms may ensue - collectively known as "post-concussion syndrome" - including memory loss, "brain fog," headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to bright light or loud noises, irritability, depression, and sleep disturbance. Most commonly, concussions are sustained through falls, motor vehicle accidents, assaults, and sports.
There are two possible mechanisms for brain injury resulting from blows to the head. The first, with which most people are familiar, is the striking of the brain against the inner skull. Because the brain floats in fluid inside the skull, sudden impacts may cause the brain to strike first one side of the skull and then the other, or rapid rotation of the head may cause shearing or straining of brain tissues. In either case, delicate neural pathways in the brain can become inflamed, causing symptoms.
The second mechanism of injury, which is less commonly understood, is an injury sustained to the upper cervical (neck) spine. During a sudden blow, as an individual's head snaps back and forth or side-to side, supporting ligaments may be stretched, which forces the upper neck vertebrae out of their normal alignment with the base of the skull. Because so many nerves transmit through the upper neck - to and from the brain - injury to this area may slow or prevent the individual's brain from healing from concussion.
A chiropractic technique that focuses upon the alignment of the upper cervical vertebrae, known as upper cervical care, provides a unique approach for treatment of trauma-induced injuries to the head and neck. Upper cervical chiropractic care utilizes two diagnostic tools - thermal imaging and digital X-rays - to accurately assess an upper cervical injury. After determining a diagnosis of cervical injury, each patient's injured neck is corrected by administering a precise adjustment by hand on a specially designed knee chest table. Many patients notice improvement in concussion symptoms with just a few treatments.
With over 20 years of experience as a specialist in the upper cervical spine, Upper Cervical Chiropractor Dr. Erin Elster, D.C., has been working with individuals with head/neck injuries for the past two years on Maui. For more information on upper cervical care and trauma-induced injuries, contact Dr. Elster in Kahului at (808) 866-6551 or www.erinelster.com.