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Care of Concussions

Boy in football gear.

Concussions are becoming increasingly common, especially among school-age athletes. It has been estimated that there are up to 3.8 million sports-related concussions in the United States each year. Concussions are problematic as, by definition, a concussive injury involves some degree of trauma to the brain. A concussion injury literally jolts the brain, causing this precious organ to bounce against the bony walls of the skull. The violence of the blow directly determines the degree and extent of brain cell damage. Importantly, any person can experience a concussion from having sustained a blow to the head. Falls are commonly implicated in a concussion history, especially in those who run or walk for exercise and may trip over a crack in the sidewalk or a hidden tree root on a trail, as well as in the elderly.

In 2013, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) issued its latest update on the Evaluation and Management of Concussion in Sports. The update, representing a summary of evidence-based guidelines, referenced several standardized symptom checklists including the Standardized Assessment of Concussion and the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale/Graded Symptom Checklist, both of which had moderate to high sensitivity and specificity in identifying sports-related concussions when administered soon after a suspected concussion. In 2013, the AAN also published Concussion During Sports Activities, a summary of evidence-based guidelines for patients and their families. The AAN documents note that concussion symptoms include headaches, dizziness, double vision, confusion, sensitivity to light or sound, and nausea and vomiting. Signs of a concussion that others can observe include slurred speech, changes in balance and coordination, a blank stare, and behavior and personality changes.

Concussion resolution may be evaluated by use of standardized checklists and return to age-matched normative values regarding cognitive performance and physiological function, as well as neurocognitive testing. An athlete who has sustained a concussion should not return to play/practice until her or his physician has assessed that the athlete is asymptomatic, the concussion has resolved, and the athlete is off medication.

Once a patient's concussion has resolved, chiropractic care can provide substantial assistance. A blow to the head necessarily involves trauma to the neck vertebras (cervical spine) and regional muscles, tendons, and ligaments. As well, an injury significant enough to cause a concussion can also cause damage to the spinal nerves in the neck. Such trauma can cause nerve irritation and interfere with the normal motion of the cervical spine. Spinal dysfunction and nerve irritation/interference can then cause a range of pain symptoms and altered physiological function, not only in the neck and shoulder region but also in other locations and other systems such as the gastrointestinal, immune, and endocrine systems.

By beginning or continuing regular chiropractic care once concussion symptoms have resolved, a post-concussion patient can obtain treatment that will help ensure that her or his spinal column and nerve system are functioning at peak capacity. In this way, regular chiropractic care helps post-concussion patients achieve and maintain optimal levels of health and well-being.

  1. Broglio SP, et al: National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Management of Sport Concussion. J Athletic Train 49(2):245-265, 2014
  2. American Academy of Neurology: Update: Evaluation and Management of Concussion in Sports, 2013 — https://www.aan.com/Guidelines/Home/GetGuidelineContent/583
  3. American Academy of Neurology: Concussion During Sports Activities: Summary of Evidence-based Guidelines to Patients and Their Families, 2013 — https://www.aan.com/Guidelines/Home/GetGuidelineContent/586

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Testimonials

  • "Regular visits with Dr. Roeder have significantly reduced the frequency of migraines I have suffered and the amount of neck and shoulder pain I have lived with for years. Because of Dr. Roeder I am able to focus on my busy life again"
    S.L., San Diego
  • "This was my first encounter with a chiropractor and found the experience to be delightful, gratifying and well worth it! Instead of being given a bunch of pills and told to come back next week, the manipulation for my back and side injuries including carpal tunnel syndrome, responded very well to the treatments. Thank you, Dr. Roeder for a job well done"
    W.B., San Diego
  • "I came in originally for neck pain, but getting adjusted helped lower my blood pressure & my insulin levels too.Dr. Roeder is so thorough in her care-I never knew how much better I could feel.I no longer have to take blood pressure medicine now."
    A.W., San Diego
  • "Since meeting Dr. Roeder at a health seminar, she has changed my life, drastically-improving my health 100%. I had a wide range of symptoms, including chronic fatigue, constant and severe headaches, body aches, nausea, difficulty concentrating and I felt extremely tired and weak. She diagnosed me with having Fibromyalgia and Candida. She put me on an anti-inflammatory diet and started me on chiropractic treatment and instructed me on strength exercises. I have lost 40 lbs and feel fantastic! Whenever I eat something that sets off a symptom, I can identify the food source now. I know how to eat well and stay away from foods that cause inflammation. Had it not been for Dr. Roeder's expert care, I believe I would still be suffering from all those symptoms-- instead I feel fantastic!"
    M.O., Spring Valley
  • "My son was diagnosed at a very young age with Hyperkyphosis. The doctor told us that surgery would be his only option but we needed to wait until he got older.My husband and I were heartbroken to think about such a major surgery for our little boy.We wanted to help him anyway we could without doing surgery. We are so thrilled to say that after seeing Dr. Roeder my son's back has made a major improvement.That there is a stronger chance that he may not need surgery after all.My son is three now and he is a very active little boy and you can't even tell that he had ever had a bad back.He is able to do what all little boys do:run, jump and climb!Taking my son to Dr. Roeder was the best decision that me and my husband have made as parents.I am so happy that Dr. Roeder is part of our lives.In fact all of my extended family members are patients of her too!Thank you so much Dr. Roeder for all of your help.You have been such a positive part of our lives.You are part of our family."
    G.C., San Diego
  • "My daughter has been diagnosed with Von Willabrand's and Precocious Puberty at age 7. She had her first period at age 8, and it was for three days. The doctors said that her hormone levels were off and there wasn't any truly safe treatment. After talking to Dr. Roeder, she started chiropractic care to help her body cope better with this disorder and hopefully change her hormones. Now my daughter and I have been told by doctors at Children's Hospital that it looks like she won't be starting her period until two years from now-this will be the normal time when she should start! They told us to keep up the good work of whatever we have been doing because it seems to be working."
    J.H., San Diego
  • "I got treated for a neck and back injury that appeared to be chronic following a major car accident. I had been to chiropractors before but without much success.After seeing Dr. Roeder now though, my mobility and general feeling of well-being has greatly improved."
    C.H., San Diego
  • "Dr. Roeder was recommended by a friend and I am completely satisfied. I was having low back pain also some neck pain. My back feels better than it has in years. I feel Dr. Roeder is complete in recommending exercising and treatment!"
    M.L., San Diego
  • "I just wanted to say thank you for making me 'new' again. Also, for helping us through our tough times. You always have been nice to us and helpful when we were in your office-it was just like a second home! Every time I walked through the door I felt calm and relaxed. You always asked us how we were doing and how we have been. I thought that was very thoughtful and caring of you-especially considering that awful car accident we had been in. None of my doctors before had been as courteous as you. You have really made a bad experience into a great experience in a blink of an eye. I always loved that EVERYONE was always smiling! I wish that when I grow up I can be like you, always making people happy and feel better! Well, I think that you just made another patient happy because of your wonderful 'magic.' Oh and I know I already said this but I think I am speaking for everyone when I say: Thank you Dr. Roeder!"
    J.F., San Diego (pediatric patient)