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Yours in Health: Brain injuries

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Breaking down TBI

By Dr. Andrea Wick EBS Contributor

Concussions are a reality when it comes to living in a ski town or competing in contact sports. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a bump or blow to the head. A whiplash injury can also result in a TBI. The g-force involved with whiplash injuries cause the brain to rattle inside the skull resulting in tissue damage. This ultimately alters the brain chemistry and damages metabolic properties within brain cells.

Post-concussion syndrome symptoms can include, among others, dizziness, headaches, nausea, poor balance, sound sensitivity, vertigo, memory loss, confusion, anxiety and sleep disturbances. Physicians and researchers have identified helmets as key factors in helping to prevent TBI in skiers and snowboarders.

According to the “Sport-and Gender-Specific Trends in the Epidemiology of Concussions Suffered by High School Athletes,” women’s soccer has the highest rate per capita of concussions compared to any other sport. This is the first study to report that the concussion rate for women’s soccer is now nearly tied with men’s football and three-fold higher than men’s soccer.

In other studies, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have found a correlation between TBI and intestinal damage. There is an increase of systemic infections post-TBI that can cause the colon membrane to become more permeable. Victims of TBI are 12 times more likely to die from blood poisoning post injury, which is often caused by bacteria, and 2.5 times more likely to die of a digestive system problem compared with those without such injury.

Dr. Ciaran Bolger, a top neurosurgeon and professor in New Zealand, along with Dr. Stephen Kara, former head doctor for the Auckland Blues Rugby team, found that it is not the number of concussions at issue, instead it’s the length of recovery time post injury. A dedicated concussion clinic in Auckland has found that exercise following a concussion injury cuts recovery time in half. Doctors recommend that athletes continue exercising at 80 percent of their normal capacity post trauma.

Dietary nutrition is also vital to brain injury recovery. The supplements I recommend to post-TBI patients include magnesium glycinate, omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, resveratrol, and branched-chain amino acids. Magnesium glycinate helps with nerve and muscle function. I prescribe 500 milligrams per day following the injury. Omega 3s decrease inflammation in the body and promote healing. They help repair cellular membranes in the brain, which promotes neuronal synapses.

Curcumin acts as a strong antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory. Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant plant compound found in red wine, grapes and berries. It protects the brain from further damage and decreases cognitive decline. Branched-chain amino acids help metabolize glucose and promote protein synthesis. Amino acids are the building blocks for cells, supplementing with BCAA helps rebuild the cells and DNA.

Additional food recommendations include coconut oil (2 tablespoons daily), grass-fed organic beef, leafy greens, fresh caught fish, nuts and seeds.

Dr. Andrea Wick is a chiropractor and applied kinesiologist. She graduated from Life University in Marietta, Georgia, and now practices in Big Sky. She has a passion for holistic healthcare and being active in the outdoors. Her practice, Healing Hands Chiropractic, is located in the Meadow Village Center. Visit to learn more.

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