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High school concussions on the rise

By Staff | Aug 23, 2018

According to the Hawaii Concussion Awareness & Management Program (HCAMP), high school athletics-related concussions have increased to over 1,000 cases per year.

Concussions are most commonly occurring during football, volleyball and boys’ and girls’ soccer, basketball and wrestling.

Fortunately, nearly 80 percent of all concussed patients recover within the first three weeks of diagnosis. However, if not identified early, concussion symptoms can linger for months and have potential negative long-term cognitive and emotional effects.

There are two possible mechanisms for brain injury resulting from concussion. 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 known, is an injury sustained to the upper cervical (neck) spine. During a sudden blow to the head, 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.

Post-concussions symptoms may include memory loss, “brain fog,” headaches, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to bright light or loud noises, irritability, depression and sleep disturbance.

Fortunately, a chiropractic technique exists – known as upper cervical chiropractic care – that focuses upon the alignment of the head and upper cervical vertebrae. This treatment provides a unique approach for treatment after concussion, especially for high school athletes who have ongoing post-concussion symptoms.

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 five 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.