I am writing a series of posts about brain injury and some things that you can do on your own. It is about highlighting the need for more support for anybody who has experienced a brain injury. I have extensive experience in treating brain injuries during my Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation days in the hospital, during sporting events, and as well as having a few good concussions in my day. Luckily I am fine with everything, but I have seen many patients and athletes who have had a brain injury and the lasting effects on the person and the support system around them. I feel there is a lot out there that you can do yourself. All that is needed is the education and where to find the information.
Comprehensive Treatment for a Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects the whole body and multiple systems. Leads to neurological changes, physical, cognitive, sensory, and psychosocial impairment. The majority of those affected are young and likely to survive into older age. According to the CDC, there are about 3 million TBI’s annually in the United States.
Traumatic brain injury and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) are major causes of disability and death in the United States. There are various degrees of severity of TBI, yet all affect mitochondrial function and lead to impaired brain function. Currently, health care professionals use various methods to assess TBI severity-from brain imaging to serum biomarkers. The major cause of TBI-associated brain damage is secondary injury, which is often said to be mainly from mitochondrial injury dysfunction. These brain cellular alterations impair neurologic functions, which are observed in individuals with TBI. There are numerous therapies being used today in the treatment of TBI including diet, hypothermia, hyperbaric oxygen, exercise and antioxidants just to name a few. Researchers are constantly exploring novel approaches to prevent, diagnose and treat TBI. However, there are many other things you could consider doing to help yourself get better after injuring your brain that are not often brought up by doctors and medical staff.
Imagine that you had unlimited resources to treat your injury? Here’s what I would consider if myself or my child got a concussion or brain injury. We’re talking pulling out all of the stops possible. Mind you this is assuming that I am not being treated in the hospital. And please, this is only medical information and some information has stronger research behind it than others. This is not what I would necessarily tell you as a patient. Each case is individual and needs to be treated as such.
That being said, concussions, TBI, head ringing, CTE are becoming unfortunately common, especially with today’s extreme sports and societal pressures. Parents pushing their children to excel in sports, hoping for the possibility of a college scholarship or a chance to make it into a professional sport. Plus, the sky rocketing popularity of the NFL / UFC / MMA / Boxing in today’s society is adding to the number of head injuries we see. CTE in the NFL is bringing a real awareness to the consequences of head injuries. The movie Concussion was just released.
During the initial brain injury, there is widespread neural inflammation. It is important to control this inflammation, that is why it is so important to get medical care right away especially if the injury is severe.
Inflammation from brain injuries can be exacerbated by other causes of inflammation – lack of sleep, high amount of sugar, low oxygen, the list goes on. Controlling the other types of inflammation is necessary. One thing that is always present in increased cortisol and glucose – a natural stress response. In fact, big fluctuations in blood glucose occur with every type of injury and surgery. And that’s one reason why lower sugar intake, higher fat intake, and even the use of like a ketosis-based diet is one of the primary dietary strategies proposed for limiting damage in brain injuries.
There’s also the idea that oxidative stress and environmental stress from our modern industrialized environment from pollutants, toxins, anything from mold to fungi, to bad air, bad water, or Wifi signals, all of these things can eventually cause a lot of oxidative stress in the brain. Part of the theory is that you get oxidative breakdown of the myelin sheath in the brain. It is possible that the myelin sheath breakdown could be related to not having enough of the right types of fatty acids like oleic acid or DHA, as these are the primary components of the myelin sheaths in your brain. When the myelin sheaths breakdown, the brain does not propagate signals the way it should. Another thing that happens is a release of iron from inside the cell, to the outside. Iron in the wrong places can cause very bad oxidation in the brain. Hopefully now you can understand a little how a lot of these theories are connected and multi-factorial.
A final thought, many of these alternative treatments are stemming from the fact that the current treatments out there are not very effective.
Stay tuned for the next post!
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Doc Edwards has extensive experience in dealing with concussions, especially when they arise from a sports injury. As there are limited resources for most people affected by a concussion, my goal is to provide guidance in how to deal with concussions from several different standpoints including nutritional optimization, exercises to improve cognitive function, testing options, and return to play discussions.
For more information please inquire via email: Docedwardsfitness@gmail.com