Concussions, Sub-concussive Blows, and the Upper Cervical Spine

A concussion researcher has uncovered some interesting findings while studying high school football players. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Player 120 never blacked out despite weathering more than 150 blows a week. He reported none of the traditional concussion symptoms. He seemed lucid, never staggered off the field and never experienced headaches. But scans of his brain showed decreased function. Cognitive testing showed a similar dive in visual and verbal scores from his baseline test.”

As a chiropractor, I immediately saw a potential connection to the upper cervical spine. What many doctors, coaches, parents, and players disregard when screening for concussion injuries is the impact these forces inevitably have on the upper neck. You see, brain function can potentially change when the upper cervical spine is misaligned.

For example, in order to provide sufficient brain support and protection, it’s important to maintain the correct volume of a special fluid called CSF. A critical link in the flow of CSF between the brain and spinal cord exists at the neural canal within the 1st/2nd cervical bones.

This is just one of the ways brain function can be altered by an upper neck injury. Let’s also consider the impact that traumatized cervical vertebrae can have on body movement, respiration, blood flow, digestion, and other cranial nerve activity (think Christopher Reeve).

What I’d like for you to take from this is two-fold. First, if you’re an athlete, find a good chiropractor to have at your disposal. You might not have experienced a big hit, but it doesn’t mean your body isn’t suffering from all of those other minor blows. Plus, as an added benefit, your performance may increase under chiropractic care! Second, start investigating just how important your upper cervical region is for brain/body function. As an experienced Upper Cervical chiropractor, I’m both troubled by, and in awe of, just how far-reaching this area is on a patient’s health and vitality.

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