whether symptoms are present or not. This is a condition that has already attracted attention from the press after the publication of a study in Journal of Human Hypertension that showed lowering of blood pressure without the use of medication.
The detection and correction of vertebral subluxation is the sole purpose of the chiropractic profession - for the purpose of optimising and maintaining the health of the individual. But whilst the regular MRi scanning of athletes is beyond the budget (and requirement) of most people, technological advances have made identifying subluxation far more effective and affordable to everyone.
With the 6 Nations championship in full flight there have once again been big concerns over the repetitive head trauma experienced by not just international players, but players of all ages and levels. Hollywood has also recently weighed in on the issue with Will Smith’s recent blockbuster “Concussion” and an outstanding lawsuit in the US involving over 20,000 retired NFL players who will be awarded in the region of $675million in compensation for the long term effects on their life – some, like Junior Seau who committed suicide in 2012 will be compensated posthumously. The name given to this condition is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
This hugely controversial and deeply worrying condition is still poorly understood and has caused such damaging effects to players wellbeing that many have either committed suicide, or developed debilitating neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, Alzheimer’s and dementia. But as research continues there appears to be a glimmer of hope as a previously overlooked factor in the repetitive head trauma appears to create drastic improvements in the condition.
The brain sits inside the skull and is bathed in a clear fluid called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that serves numerous purposes - all of which could contribute heavily to the degeneration of the brain tissue. This sugar-rich fluid circulates continuously around the brain and essentially suspends it inside the skull providing cushioning for the brain during trauma, providing nutrition to, and draining toxins away from the brain. The flow and distribution of this fluid could hold the key to both recovery after concussion, and reducing susceptibility to future concussions.
This breakthrough came when retired Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon met Dr Raymond Damadian who ordered a FONAR (upright MRi) scan of the Superbowl winner’s head and neck. The FONAR scan showed that McMahon had not only fractured his lower neck (which he was unaware of at the time) but had also subluxated (misaligned) the top bone in his neck C1. Damadian found that this, serious misalignment in the upper neck was not only damaging his nervous system but also caused a blockage of his cerebral spinal fluid. “If that fluid gets obstructed and backs up, you get symptoms of pressure, numbness, loss of vision, and ultimately, people end up in wheelchairs,” Damadian said. “When the fluid is blocked, it backs up into the head, a condition called cranial cervical syndrome.” Damadian immediately referred McMahon to a spinal alignment specialist Dr Scott Rosa, a chiropractor who delivered a precise impulse (called an adjustment) onto the offending vertebra. The result was almost immediate with McMahon experiencing almost complete relief of an 8 YEAR LONG headache - and CSF (fluid) started to flow around the brain.
McMahon was diagnosed with dementia several years ago and since receiving his spinal adjustments said his physical pain is diminishing while his short term memory loss has continued to improve. This amazing breakthrough could change the way head trauma is evaluated and could even change the “return to play” guidelines to include a specialist evaluation of the cervical spine by a chiropractor.
“I feel great now,” McMahon said. “I have friends that have killed themselves and I can see why they did. There were times I was in so much pain I wanted to kill myself. If I had a gun I may have killed myself. My head is much more clear now but the biggest difference is physically I feel much better.”
McMahon now wants to educate the public on the importance of spinal adjustments and regular subluxation check-ups to ensure the safety and long term health of all athletes involved in contact sports. With every NFL franchise now regularly utilising chiropractors to restore, optimise and maintain the health of the athlete’s spine and nervous system the question now is how long it will be before every concussed player is required to receive a comprehensive spinal check-up before being allowed back to the field of play. Whilst this breakthrough is great news for both current and retired athletes more research will be required to determine just how much of an influence vertebral subluxation could have on both the performance and long term health of the individual –
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