(Dr Joshua Flowers DC DACNB)
January is National Winter Sports TBI Awareness Month…
Here in Colorado we are in the peak of winter. With Skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiles, and hockey leagues in full throttle, Colorado has one of the highest rates of TBI’s in the nation. With extreme sports comes extreme risk of head injury. Concussions and TBI’s are not “walk it off” injuries. Many people try to push themselves to get back to normal life after injury. After a fresh concussion, the brain needs time to heal. Decreasing stimulation is a significant factor in treating a brain injury. We recommend fasting, rest, and limited to no screen time for the first week to two weeks depending on the severity.
The goal is to decrease neuro-inflammation, stress (both physical and emotional), and increase healing. Other factors like gut motility, gut absorption, hormone production, and medications can affect the healing process. If a patient is having changes in gut motility, then there is a high likelihood that the patient is suffering from malabsorption. Malabsorption can affect the absorption of B vitamins, essential fatty acids, fats, and much more. The brain needs B vitamins, fats and EFAs for development, healthy brain function, and healing. If a patient has malabsorption, then they have a higher likelihood of struggling to recover from concussions and TBI’s
Another commonly overlooked complicating factor in head injuries is pituitary hypofunction. The pituitary gland is frequently injured in TBI patients. The anterior pituitary makes seven different hormones that affect a wide range of functions throughout the entire body. If the stalk of the pituitary is damaged, we can see a decrease in production of any or all of these hormones. We will be discussing the affect of dysfunction in a few of these hormones.
- Growth hormone (GH) has a huge factor in healing the brain and increasing synaptogenesis (growth of new synapsis).
- Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and Luteinising hormone (LH) also known as gonadotrophins. FSH and LH act on the ovaries or testes to stimulate the production of sex hormones, like testosterone and estrogen, and egg/sperm maturity. Sex hormones play a significant role in mood and brain function as well as healing.
- Prolactin (PRL) stimulates milk production.
- Melanocyte-stimulating hormone’s (MSH) is also produced by the anterior pituitary, however, the exact role in humans is unknown.
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete steroid hormones, particularly cortisol.
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is a hormone that controls the production of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones help to regulate energy throughout the body and have a strong influence on brain function.
As you can see, there are many factors that play into the healing and recovery of concussions and TBIs. When the brain has an injury the influence of this injury affects the entire body. It is important to support all of the systems which lead to good brain health. If you or a loved one are struggling to recover from a brain injury or has had a recent concussion and would like to better explore your options, please contact us.