Don’t Think You’ve Had One…Think Again
Over several summers of high school, I worked at a summer camp, primarily teaching swimming and skiing. It was a lot of fun, and I got my share of bumps and bruises but nothing that I ever thought had a lasting impact…until last year.
I was having a routine health assessment with some technology that utilizes lasers to look at the body, and the tester asked when I had been hit in the head with a round stick. My first response was, “I haven’t been hit in the head”. Then she said, “it could have been a long time ago.” All the sudden, I recalled the incident.
I was 16 years old and driving the ski boat. The boat was idling while I waited for the skier to get ready. The spotter in the boat was swinging the ski rope over his head like a lasso to toss out to the skier when a wave rocked the boat, knocking the spotter off balance. This led to me getting hit in the back of the head with a wooden ski handle that was traveling at a very high rate of speed. It knocked me out for a second, and when I woke, I couldn’t move my neck…all the muscles went into spasm.
I went to the emergency room, and after a few routine eye tests, they said I was fine. I was given muscle relaxants and put on bed rest for 3 days, until I could move my neck again. I always assumed I was good after that; never aware that the impact to my head would still be visible on the computer that day. Not only was it visible, but the tissue around the injury was still holding high levels of cortisol, which has lead to my cortisol being high in general. They recommended an herb (Holy Basil) that would help lower the cortisol, and it worked.
I learned something about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that day and have learned even more about TBI from Dr. Hymen’s series, the Broken Brain. The traditional approach for treating head injuries for years was to rest and let the body restore; thinking there was no lasting impact if the individual had no further symptoms. However, more research is suggesting that this may not be true. One of the things Dr. Hymen is advocating for, is more education and awareness on how brain function can be affected by injuries to the head and what forms of healing can be utilized to get the best results.
Dr. David Musnick says, “The conventional approach is really very deficient and will often leave people with cognitive deficits or what we call, a decline in brain reserve. We all have a certain amount of brain reserve whether we're a kid or adult, but if there's brain injury and it's not taken care of appropriately, then the person's brain reserve can go down. If it goes down enough, they'll start having symptoms.”
It’s interesting to note that when the blood of football players is drawn within one to two hours of hitting their heads, they can start producing antibodies to their own blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier is supposed to keep toxins and things out of the brain, but it can become increasingly permeable when there has been injury to the head. This can lead to potentially bigger challenges in healing brain injuries.
There are many side effects like this and others that can result when there has been a traumatic injury to the brain. I don’t have time to cover them all here, but I will mention two. First, Dr. Hymen indicates it’s important for both adults and kids exposed to an brain injury to decrease inflammation by eating low glycemic-foods, eliminating trans-fats and decreasing fried foods and breaded foods. He also recommended that everybody with a brain injury go dairy-free and gluten-free even if they don't have antibodies to gluten, because some of the molecules in gluten can create an autoimmune process in the brain if the blood-brain barrier is having a problem.
Second, managing stress levels is very important after a brain injury. Pain is often associated with this type of injury, and it is important to manage the pain as it can drive cortisol levels up which can create more stress and inflammation in the body
Once again, my goal in sharing this information with you is to keep you informed, but I strongly encourage you to do your own reading and research. If you have children, make sure they are wearing helmets when playing high impact sports.
In the meantime, if you are looking for an inexpensive and simple way to lower your stress level, check out my Distress Less audio program. It provides simple actions you can take on a daily basis to lower your stress.