Concussion Prevention Strategies
RULE #1: PROTECT THE BRAIN
Basic Strategies To Help Prevent Neurodegenerative Decline and Susceptibility to Concussion, TBI and CTE
1) Diet. Listed as #1 for a reason!!
If your diet consists of bad carbohydrates (sugars, pasta, high glycemic foods like potatoes and corn, white rice) you are at a dramatically increased risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases including: Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have similar accumulations of Tau and Amyloid proteins as seen in CTE. The research is clear. Sugar is inflammatory and addictive. Some data says it is more addictive than cocaine! It causes gut and autoimmune issues and is THE reason we are fat, as a society. FAT IS NOT OUR ENEMY….SUGAR IS!! Many Fats are protective of nerve tissue, including : coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and grapeseed oil.
If you are driving your kids to a football field with a bag of McDonalds or other fast food, you are creating a predisposition to traumatic brain injuries. The brain is made mostly of a fat called DHA. If you want a McDonalds brain, eat McDonalds. If you want a healthy brain, consider swapping the kids diet to things like: avocado, quinoa, tons of great veggies, no refined carbs and grass fed animals. Eat Organic whenever possible and get them on a good multivitamin, fish oil supplement ( Omega 3 Fatty Acids) and Vitamin D. The research is so strong for these 3 supplements , especially, for protecting the brain. Please message us for copies of available studies!
2) Avoid certain medications as much as possible.
If your athlete consumes a lot of antibiotics, over the counter or prescription pain meds, antianxiety or antidepressant medications, steroids or other anti-inflammatories for injuries, your risk of neurodegenerative issues increases….ALOT. Is it possible that athletes (who are exposed to head trauma and other injuries) may have been predisposed to neurological damage, including CTE and TBI, by taking multiple medications for injuries? The toxicology research says it is PROBABLE, not just possible. The issue with TBI, Concussions and development of CTE is not as simple as just head and body contact, despite what some say. Why is it that some people play contact sports for a lifetime, never develop any neurodegenerative issues and live a very long and healthy life while others: become suicidal, deal with chronic depression and pain syndromes, can’t sleep,and die at a very young age. If the relationship between CTE/TBI was that simple, everyone who played contact sports would have CTE. That simply isn't true. This condition is multifactorial in nature and requires your attention on multiple fronts including your consumption of medications.
This is an easy one! If you’re not getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night, your body is not healing as it should. It’s that simple and is supported by tens of studies in very reputable journals and from very reputable institutions like Harvard. To allow the nerve system to heal and recover from a day of living, it requires time to detoxify and reset, so to speak. Get to sleep early for brain health!
4) Consumption of alcohol and other drugs.
For many decades, the phrase “Steroid Rage” or simply “Roid Rage” was utilized when describing a syndrome seen in athletes using metabolic steroids. This has been well documented in the toxicological literature. Anyone who has read the toxicology agrees that the use of these drugs causes many of the same symptoms seen in CTE including increased risk of : suicide, violence, early death, chronic pain syndromes, sleeplessness, headaches, visual issues, balance issues, peripheral neuropathies (numbness in the extremities) as well as an increased risk of Tau Protein accumulation due to the neurodegenerative nature of these drugs. Is it possible that use of these drugs and excessive amounts of alcohol predisposes a player to developing brain injuries when exposed to impact forces? YES! Avoid drugs and alcohol as much as possible.
P.S. Alcohol is very high in sugars which are inflammatory, injure the brain and increase your risk of neurodegenerative issues.
5) Movement Protects The Brain
By providing constant stimulus into a nerve system designed to react to its environment, we strengthen the brain. If you are sedentary, your risk of neurodegenerative disease increases significantly!! Stay active for life! Did you know that your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease increases by 3.1% PER YEAR after retirement??? Many doctors are recommending NOT retiring at 65 but staying as active as you can for as long as you can, whether in your profession, volunteering daily or working part time in an appropriate job you can tolerate as you age.
This is also true for our kids! Look at how much time your athlete spends on their IPhone, IPad, Laptop, TV, Computer, Gaming System, etc. The average American (over the age of 18) spends 4.3 hours PER DAY watching TV!!! ANYTHING is better than time on a TV or gaming system. Limit their exposure to 1 hour/day! Really!
6) Reduce stress in your life!
I know…this is easier said than done. The research is clear: if you are living your life in your sympathetic nerve system (your stress nerve system), you are asking for trouble. Emotional stress and the resulting inflammatory responses in the body are damaging to the nerve system……mostly the brain! Can you imagine negative thoughts and emotions predisposing you to neurological issues later in life? Again, the research is clear!
Learn to deal with stress better by meditating daily, doing yoga or other movement based meditative systems, work on your breathing techniques, sleep more, learn techniques for de-stressing at all times and pay attention to your diet. People with cruddy diets deal with stress less effectively because the brain is not as efficient!
Imagine your child or yourself: eating fast foods, being on a TV, gaming system or cell phone for hours on end, taking excess “anti” medications, falling asleep at 12am for a 6AM start to school or work, coming home from school/work and being sedentary, stressing out about tests at school or other life stressors. Do you have that image in your head? Now, take them to football practice and let them hit other kid with a weakened nerve and immune system. As we said; TBI, Concussion and CTE is not simply about head and body contact during contact sports.
7) Get Strong!!
The neck is designed to move and absorb forces introduced into the head and torso. When the neck is stronger and balanced, your risk of concussion decreases. I have had elite athletes argue this point with me by saying, “My neck is big and very strong but I still have a concussion. It can’t be neck strength”. Ask any Neurologist, Orthopedic, Physical Therapist or Doctor of Chiropractic what an imbalanced neck looks like as far as strength, coordination of movement and its ability to deal with impact forces! I have seen 275 lb defensive linemen who can’t resist a very light push on the neck….BEFORE being injured!
Do you think that might increase their risk of developing a TBI or concussion? The “size” of the neck means very little when the joints and nerves in the neck are compromised. Impact Sports is developing a concussion mitigation program that is FREE when you purchase a helmet system. You’ll have access to online training for prevention of spine injuries as well as information on diet, stress reduction and other great tips for avoiding injuries while playing contact sports!
This list is by no means complete! There are many more strategies for protecting the nerve system from acute and chronic damage. Also, Look for our post on cervical spine strengthening program for youth and adult athletes…coming soon!
EAT WELL, MOVE WELL, THINK WELL