David Ash, Football, and Head Injuries
Written by Dr. Evan Pulver
Longhorn fans woke up this morning to find that UT quarterback David Ash is leaving the game of football after his concussion in week 1 against North Texas. In days past, this may have drawn criticism of Ash’s toughness or ability to play at the Division I level. But the days of shaking it off and the “no pain, no gain” mentality is diminishing as players and their families are realizing the long-term health impacts of these injuries. The NFL and NHL are now donating funds to research Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), as they are hot issues in the news and with the former players of those sports.
As a former (backup) quarterback and now as a foundational chiropractor, seeing these issues on my newsfeed with such a high frequency and being asked about these issues made me want to put down some information in writing.
Here are some ideas to consider regarding head injuries:
The G-force (1 G is equal to the force of earth’s gravity) of many big hits in the NFL are measured at over 150 G’s. That puts a force of approximately 30-60 G’s on the helmet of the receiving player. To give you some comparison, check out these G’s:
Walking- 1 G
Shuttle Launch- 3 G’s
F-16 fighter jet roll- 9 G’s
Concussion- 100 G’s
Big time NFL hit- 150 G’s
RISK OF CONCUSSION:
The risk of receiving a concussion increases after having one. The risk for long-term neurological damage also increases with each subsequent concussion. If you or your child has had a concussion, you will need to be on alert for the symptoms of additional injuries. After missing the 2013 season due to concussion, it was unfortunate to see David Ash suffer another in game 1 of this year. He was given medical clearance to play, but the risks were still there.
A rear end collision of 8 MPH results in a 5 G force on the occupant’s head. 20 MPH results in a 12 G force. A frontal impact of 40 MPH places a force of 46 G on the occupant. In one study done on primates, a 5-G force to the heads of the primates resulted in a 50% probability of brain stem injury, cerebral concussion, and cranial nerve stretch.
The hits seen on Friday nights in Texas or on the college/professional level can be compared to a series of car wrecks. The forces are the similar or greater. The difference is that with a car accident, ambulances are called and trips to the urgent care are made. With hits in football or other contact sports, it’s usually shaken off so the athlete can be in the next play.
THE UPPER CERVICAL SPINE:
The forces required to cause a concussion are not isolated to the skull. These forces are also transferred to the spine. The most vulnerable point of injury to the spine is the uppermost bone in your neck, the atlas or C-1 vertebra. This critical bone has much more freedom of movement than the other bones of your spine. It is held in place by soft tissues- muscles, tendons, ligaments- rather than bony structures as are the other vertebrae. This creates a susceptible point for injury or foundational shifting of the spine away from normal. While concussions make the news for their serious health implications, the damage to the neck and spine have long-term implications. In studies of motor vehicle victims suffering soft tissue injuries, 62% still had significant injuries 12.5 years later. Have you ever heard someone use the phrase, “It’s just an old football injury”?
ARE YOUR KIDS AT RISK?
Do you have children playing competitive sports? While their heroes playing on Sunday afternoons may risk their brains and necks to win games and earn their paychecks, your child does not have to.
Tips for your child:
1. If your child is playing a contact sport, make sure they are not putting themselves at excessive risk. Taking plays off or sitting out of practice is OK if they have a hard fall or collision. If the coach disagrees, have them call me.
2. Taking Omega-3 supplements is good for everyone, and it is especially good for neurological development. Think of adding a high quality supplement to your child’s diet and increasing their intake of wild caught fatty fish.
3. Have your child checked for Foundational Shifts of the spine. Displacement of the spinal vertebrae further stresses the nervous system, and proper foundational alignment will help with injury recovery and prevention.
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I was reading an excellent book called “The Ecology of Commerce” by Paul Hawken (Found Here) and the author described how using our planet’s resources irresponsibly leads to a situation where we are borrowing from the future. Negative actions we take now change the environment for our children and grandchildren. That is a concept that is easy to grasp when talking about our environment.
But what about with our health?
Are you borrowing from the future when it comes to your health and well-being? Is another month of not exercising or eating well compromising your option to do so later in life? Mobility is something that any grandparent will tell you is critical to their independence. Can’t squat down to the toilet anymore or step into the shower? That cues the kids to have a meeting about where you should live, based on your physical limitations. The physical also changes the mental. The feeling of losing out on doing what you love impacts your confidence and vitality.
This message is NOT for the elderly.
Waiting until the issue is... well... an issue, only makes it more difficult to address. It takes longer, it is harder, and it costs more. Let's look at a child with scoliosis for example. It does not start out as a 24 degree lateral curve one morning. It is progressive. And there are multiple causes. In about 25% of cases, there is a family history. Leg length differences, pelvic and sacral distortions, and nerve damage can all contribute to the level of curve found in the spine. Waiting to address the issue reduces the ability to make substantial changes, as skeletal maturity occurs around the age of 12-16. Changes in adults are very possible, but outcomes are much better before the spine has fully matured. Foundational Chiropractic Care looks at the foundational issues of the spine that may be causing the deviations or scoliosis. This can benefit children and adults alike.
Loss of mobility is of great concern. What Foundation Chiropractic is most concerned about is the indication of a deeper issue, a Foundational Shift affecting your spine and the communication network of your nervous system. A comprehensive Foundational Chiropractic Examination will indicate the presence of Foundational Shifts in your spine to see if a program of Foundational Correction is right for you. Stop borrowing from the future. Take action to address your Secondary Conditions now to ensure a better tomorrow.
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Thanks and have a GREAT day!
Dr. Evan Pulver and the Foundation Chiropractic Family
As you may have heard on sports news, one of the devastating injuries feared by athletes is the “terrible triad”, the combination of a torn ACL, MCL, and medial meniscus of the knee. Often requiring surgery, this injury can knock athletes off the field or court for 6 months to nearly a year, or force them into retirement. In pregnancy, there is a terrible triad that is not a surgical emergency jeopardizing a 4-year contract, but it is unpleasant just the same. The Terrible Triad of Pregnancy is the following:
1. Weight gain: Predominately occurring in the third trimester, women will naturally gain weight as the developing baby adds 3.5 pounds and 5.5 inches of growth during this phase. The growth of the baby also compresses the diaphragm and ribs, making a full inhalation seem impossible. Swollen ankles, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and indigestion round out the consequences of weight gain in the third trimester.
2. Foundational shifts in alignment: As the center of gravity for mother shifts forward and upward with her weight gain, the weight distribution to her joints changes. The new postures and stresses to her knees, hips, and low back can create changes to her entire spine. The lumbosacral spine and hip joints are most commonly challenged. Gait alterations may occur as well, altering the load on her spine and increasing the incidence of strain/sprain injuries to her spinal segments and supporting structures (Ohm, 2013).
3. Ligament changes due to hormones: The hormones relaxin and elastin are critical to allowing the pelvis to successfully deliver the fetus. While integral to a successful birth outcome, these powerful hormones can cause shifts in alignment and gait alterations in the third trimester. The effect of these hormones does not only reach the ligaments and structures of the pelvis, but the entire body. Mom may notice an increase prevalence of turning her ankle and changes in her overall posture as her mid-back and neck compensate for her shifts in weight. Chiropractic care is extremely effective during pregnancy, but the doctor needs to be highly aware of the changes in the spine and ligaments as they deliver the chiropractic adjustment. The same adjustment given to a woman before pregnancy and in her third trimester may have different outcomes if the doctor is not familiar with prenatal chiropractic care.
The combination of these three factors adds to the likelihood of pelvic distortion or misalignment, intra-uterine constraint, and low back or hip pain. Pelvic distortion relates to a change in the normal alignment of the pelvis. Intra-uterine constraint refers to any changes in sacral positioning that could interfere with normal positioning or movement of the baby. Low back pain has been reported in 42.5% (Clapp, 1993) to 90% (Revelli, 1992) of pregnant women. “There are no known contraindications to chiropractic spinal and pelvic adjustments throughout pregnancy other than those affecting any non-gravid (non-pregnant) individual (Ohm, 2013).”
The Terrible Triad in Pregnancy is a complex of changes that occur during pregnancy to ensure a successful birth. They are necessary physiological and biomechanical processes, but they can cause challenges if foundational alignment is not maintained. Our office supports the normal functioning of the spine and nervous system to create a healthy pregnancy and birth environment.
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Dr. Evan Pulver