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Functional Medicine Aids Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury can be restored by functional medicine. Learn how functional medicine, combined with acupuncture and light therapy help the damaged brain.

 

"Hard" Sports

Head injuries are a part of the game in many competitive sports. But you don’t have to play football or rugby to experience head trauma and concussions. Traumatic brain injury can happen when skateboarding, free-running, or riding a bike without a helmet. It often happens early on in life. We see patients in adulthood that have balance issues due to a “bump on the head” early on in youth, and you don’t need a full concussion to feel the negative effects. Any type of hit can rattle the brain.

“Small repetitive hits (subconcussive injuries) are hits to the head that shake up the brain. They go unnoticed because they don’t rise to the level of a full-blown concussion.”  - Robert Stern, Ph.D., professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Boston University[1]

These injuries happen to us as children, or they happened to our children and teens. Perhaps the injury wasn’t serious enough to merit operation or medical intervention, and so we forgot about them.

CTE - the Worst Type of Head Injury

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma, such as athletes -- especially football and soccer players.

The scary thing about CTE is that symptoms do not generally begin appearing until years after the onset of head impacts. Early symptoms of CTE don't usually appear until a patient's late 20s or 30s, and affect a patient's mood and behavior. Some common changes seen include impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and paranoia.

As the disease progresses, the symptoms worsen and patients start to experience problems with thinking and memory, including memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, and eventually progressive dementia. [2]

Case Study: Logan Paul

Logan Paul has been known for his high-wire activity, oftentimes causing a firestorm on social media. The YouTube star is no stranger to controversy - and had multiple traumatic brain injuries as a teen. Wanting to learn more about his personality (and why he acts the way he does), he got a SPECT brain scan from Dr. Amon.

It was discovered that he had low blood flow and activity in key areas of his prefrontal cortex. A history of repeated head trauma from playing football, as well as a trampoline accident where he fractured his skull is one of the main reasons for his personality.

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury [3]

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have wide-ranging physical and psychological effects. Some signs or symptoms may appear immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear days or weeks later.

The signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury may include:

  • Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
  • No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused or disoriented
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Problems with speech
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Sensory problems, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth or changes in the ability to smell
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Mood changes or mood swings
  • Feeling depressed or anxious

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries can include any of the signs and symptoms of mild injury, as well as these symptoms that may appear within the first hours to days after a head injury:

  • Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
  • Persistent headache or headache that worsens
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
  • Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
  • Loss of coordination
  • Profound confusion
  • Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma and other disorders of consciousness

How Acupuncture Can Help Brain Injury

Studies have shown improved outcomes for patients with TBI in motor and speech rehabilitation with acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture can relieve  many symptoms associated with TBI and concussion such as chronic pain, headaches, dizziness, numbness, fine and gross motor impairment, memory and cognitive decline, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Radiographic imaging before and after treatment has shown that inserting needles in acupuncture points changes the activity of the brain. Acupuncture can change the brain’s chemistry and regulate neurotransmitters, especially the release of serotonin.  [4]

Cranial stimulation and laser therapy - which target the damaged neurons around the skull, can also be used to successfully treat brain injuries.

Like occupational and physiotherapy, functional medicine requires consistent treatment for weeks or months. If you feel that you are suffering from TBI, schedule a consultation with Dr. Sandy Ziya. She will come up with a treatment plan for your injury and symptoms that could include multiple modalities of treatment in functional medicine.

brain injury causes behavioral issues

Case Study: Logan Paul

Logan Paul has been known for his high-wire activity, oftentimes causing a firestorm on social media. The YouTube star is no stranger to controversy - and had multiple traumatic brain injuries as a teen. Wanting to learn more about his personality (and why he acts the way he does) he got a  single photon emission computed tomography  (SPECT), which maps blood flow in the brain, from Dr. Daniel Amen, board-certified psychiatrist, professor and brain health expert . [5]

It was discovered that he had low blood flow and activity in key areas of his prefrontal cortex. A history of repeated head trauma from playing football, as well as a trampoline accident where he fractured his skull are main reasons for his non-empathetic personality and history of bad decisions.

Logan is now undergoing a treatment plan under Dr. Amen.