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Athletes and Chiropractic

Recently, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) has been in the news a lot due to both an increase in its diagnosis among notable NFL players and a recent movie (“Concussion ,” starring Will Smith and Alec Baldwin) centered around the topic.  So what is it?

CTE occurs in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including concussions, leaving them with symptoms that can range from confusion to depression to memory loss and affect cognition, mood and behavior.  These symptoms are eerily similar to those of Alzheimers, Dementia and Parkinson’s patients. While those brain diseases typically peak in the late 60s or 70s, CTE sets in at a much younger age, sometimes the 30s and 40s.

Once thought to be a condition reserved for former boxers, more and more former NFL players are turning up with it during their retirement years, which begin earlier than in other careers, resulting in the National Football League instituting a dramatic crackdown on violent hits above the shoulders, and leading a movement to improve the headgear for football players at the NFL, collegiate, high school and pee wee levels.  An NHL player has also been diagnosed.

While the effort to prevent future cases is admirable, not much has been available for treating existing patients, because CTE was previously only diagnosed posthumously.  Recent medical advances, however, have allowed doctors to detect the disease at earlier stages, leading to more treatment options for players currently living with the condition.  Once of those options is chiropractic.

Because CTE causes brain shrinkage and degeneration, studies have been done on cerebral spine fluid build-up in the brain resulting from damage to the upper cervical portion of the spine.  This is because a violent blow to the head very often results in damage to the upper cervical/neck portion of the spine. It turns out that this portion of the brain is uniquely positioned to shift out of place after a blow to the head and prevent the flow of cerebral spinal fluid out of the brain. Build-up of fluid in the brain causes increased pressure that leads to deterioration.

Because of this, chiropractic adjustments to this area can keep fluid flowing as it should,  preventing build-up in the brain relieving, and even postponing, CTE symptoms.

Earlier this year, Former NFL player Jim McMahon spoke out about how he is using chiropractic to relieve symptoms leftover from head trauma/concussions during his NFL career.  He was found to have fluid on the brain from two upper cervical blockages and a previous broken neck (of which he wasn’t even aware.)  Through regular chiropractic adjustments and painless, non-invasive treatments, he has seen lasting relief from chronic headache pain.

Athletes at any level who engage in sports that could result in spinal misalignment can benefit from regular chiropractic, which is not only helpful after an injury but can assist in preventing them.  Make chiropractic part of your athletic training program.

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