Concussions and CranioSacral Therapy
What is a concussion?
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons define a concussion as a clinical syndrome characterized by immediate and transient alteration in brain function, including alteration of mental status and level of consciousness, resulting from mechanical force or trauma. In simpler terms, a concussion is an injury to the brain that causes alteration in brain function.
Following a concussion, individuals may heal at differing rates and have various symptoms. Some individuals develop what is known as post-concussion syndrome where side effects from the head trauma can last for weeks or months. These symptoms include headache, fatigue, dizziness, mood swings, personality changes, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and excessive drowsiness.
Concussions and CTE
The cumulative effects of concussions and repetitive brain trauma for athletes, particularly National Football League players, has been a recent topic in the media. Individuals suffering with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) may have cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral problems, and which may not be noticeable right away. With CTE, neurodegenerative changes can be seen with images of the brain, but a diagnosis of CTE is currently only given after death during an autopsy.
Research Studies on CranioSacral Therapy and CTE
The Upledger Institute has conducted several research studies examining the effects of intensive therapy on post-concussion syndrome with retired NFL athletes. The goal of these studies has been to use manual therapy approaches, including CranioSacral Therapy (CST), to alleviate the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome, of repeated trauma to the brain, and to allow for healing in those individuals with a predisposition for CTE.
What is CranioSacral Therapy?
CST is a light touch hands-on treatment technique that works on the central nervous system and addresses the entire body to facilitate healing, improved function, and wellness. It can help physically, with symptoms such as pain, dizziness, and headaches, as well as, emotionally, with symptoms such as anxiety, frustration, and depression. CST can assist those suffering to return to their prior level of function and to prevent life-long deficits that may result from head trauma.
Standardized tests were used to assess the players’ symptoms pre- and post-treatment. The results of the pilot study in 2014 revealed improvements in the players’ cognition, balance, dynamic gait, duration of sleep, cervical spine range of motion, and overall quality of life. The players showed a decrease in headaches, pain, dizziness, and depression.
Objective data from the 2015 study has not been calculated, but NFL players in the study shared their feedback. One participant, George Visger, retired NY Jet and San Francisco 49er, who had undergone nine brain surgeries as a result of repeated sub-concussive and concussive blows, reported, “my overall mental state is much clearer, and my ability to focus and handle stressful situations has improved dramatically.” Visger also stated, “CranioSacral Therapy is literally a game changer for many of us TBI (traumatic brain injury) survivors.”
CST as a Healing Tool
Patients are often told that there is nothing that can be done to alleviate or improve their symptoms following a concussion except to rest and wait for the symptoms to resolve. However, CST is proving to be a powerful tool in reducing symptoms for those experiencing brain trauma and the wait time as the brain heals.
Dr. Jacquelyn Hines is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Upledger Certified CranioSacral Therapist. She was also a treating therapist in the 2015 Concussion Intensive Research Study at The Upledger Institute.
Dr. Jacquelyn Hines and Dr. Danielle Rediker offer CranioSacral Therapy at Connectivity Therapy and Holistic Health in Morristown. For more information, please call 732-224-1280 or visit ConnectivityTherapy.com.
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