Continuing Education: Treating Concussions, Whiplash & Brain Injuries
Continuing Education is a series of days in which I travel (to Milwaukee, most recently) to learn more about chiropractic topics. The benefit to this gain of knowledge is threefold: I improve my patient care, exercise my brain, and maintain my license as a Doctor of Chiropractic. As chiropractors, we need to earn 40 credits of Continuing Education over a two-year period. Outside of the time commitment, I’ve never found the requirement too challenging because I’ve always gravitated toward learning when it helps me in my everyday life and work. Additionally, it allows me to specialize in areas that were not available at chiropractic school (like CCSP: Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician). I also get to travel and attend the conferences with my family (mainly my brother, Grant), which is always fun. This blog is meant to serve as a general overview of my most recent Continuing Education experience and will not dive into much textbook information on the topics covered there. Ultimately, I want to be able to translate what I learned about whiplash and concussions immediately into better care for patients with brain injury.
Identifying Concussions, Whiplash & Brain Injuries
On my first day of Continuing Education in Milwaukee, the topic covered was “Functional Neurology with a Microscope on Concussions and Whiplash.” The presenter, Dr. Powell, is an expert on how our brain can be impacted by car accidents, falls, and traumas to the head and neck. A major theme is being able to correctly identify the difference between traumatic brain injury (TBI) and whiplash/concussion. A TBI can be determined when imaging shows a clear deviation from a normal scan (the damage is clearly visible on an MRI or CT scan). Alternatively, whiplash or a concussion is trauma suffered by the brain that cannot be clearly identified with advanced imaging.
During our first five hours in class, we went over classic tests to determine where the damage happened and collected data about which functions are impacted. Some of these tests include simple tasks like touching your finger to your nose with eyes closed, Romberg’s (checking for swaying while a patient’s eyes are closed), and Saccades & Optokinetic tape (testing for nystagmus). These tests are small windows into the brain’s function, how our body reacts, and brief examples of what’s included in a full neurological exam.
Treating Concussions, Whiplash & Brain Injuries
After testing a patient with brain dysfunction, determining what’s wrong and where the problem lies, the second half of the day was dedicated to creating a competent treatment plan to improve function and return a patient’s ability to some semblance of normal. Treatments focus on three areas: brain oxygen levels, cervical dysfunction, and energy for the brain to function properly.
Getting proper oxygen to the brain includes exercising regularly, getting good sleep (uninterrupted and without stagnation in breathing), and performing specific breathing exercises that can be done at any time. The latter can include even retraining someone how to draw breath.
Cervical dysfunction refers to the whiplash sustained by the spine during a concussion. It is responsible for the input into the skull and very important neurological functions that run from the body into the brain, and from the brain into the body. When correcting subluxations (partial dislocations) in the cervical spine, we increase the function in multiple areas of our body if they are underutilized or suppressed.
Energy for the brain simply means getting the right amount of macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates) and micronutrients/vitamins/supplements (vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B6 & B12, vitamin E, zinc, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, B9). All are necessary and form a delicate balance that is the foundation for better brain performance and neurotransmitter health.
Can Midwest Pain Solutions Help This Process?
In short, the answer is yes! As a chiropractor, my schooling and Continuing Education qualify me to help address problems in all the areas outlined above. I work with patients to figure out what’s wrong and what steps are needed to improve the problem.
When you come to Midwest Pain Solutions with whiplash, a concussion, or a brain injury, we will perform the necessary exams, get you on the proper diet/supplements/exercise regimen, and make the adjustments necessary to fix any subluxations that might have occurred.
Why Midwest Pain Solutions?
What sets us apart is High Intensity Laser Therapy. At Midwest Pain Solutions, we have technology to impact change at a cellular level, reaching tissue that has been damaged or suppressed. Our lasers help reduce inflammation (brain swelling) and balance out neurotransmitters within the brain.
I’ve included some links about laser testing done on mice. I will offer an obvious caveat here: Humans are anatomically much different than mice. Though, it’s worth noting the internal workings of both species are similar, just on much different scales of size.
When using a laser on a patient, the biggest challenge is the thickness of the skull and how much of the light is absorbed by the scalp and hair. At Midwest Pain Solutions, the laser is pulsed into the body at a high level of concentrated infrared light. In the studies with mice, the laser used was at 500-milliwatts. At Midwest Pain Solutions, we use 500-watt lasers that are one thousand times stronger and the equivalent of 500,000 milliwatts.
For more information or to schedule a consultation to learn more about how Midwest Pain Solutions can help relieve symptoms of a concussion, whiplash or brain injury, call (920) 569-2350 today!