Recovery from Equestrian Falls and Traumatic Brain Injury
When you you live and work in the Village of Wellington, you begin to understand what the equestrian community means to this city. Polo players, dressage, and event jumpers give bring life to the city and firmly establish it as the equestrian capitol of the country.
Many horse owners understand the benefit of chiropractic for their horses, and many riders understand the impact that riding has on the low back pain. However, the main reason I’m writing this article today is because of the staggering impact that head injuries have on the sport.
Dr. Lola Chambless, a neurosurgeon involved with the organization Riders4Helmets has presented some sobering statistics:
- Roughly 15,000 visits will be made to hospitals around the country from a horse related head injury.
- A serious motorcycle accident will occur once for every 5,000 hours of riding. Horse riding injuries will happen once every 350 hours!
- There are approximately 8 deaths from head injury in football each year. Compare that to 60 horse related deaths from head injury in horse riding.
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious and debilitating condition regardless of cause. It can lead to a loss of control of limbs/bodily functions, depression, headaches, speech problems, and psychosocial problems. The medical costs of treating the problems associated with head injury can add up to 3 million dollars over a lifetime!
What many people overlook is the fact that a head injury almost always accompanies a structural problem in the neck. While the structural problem in the neck certainly did not cause the brain injury, it is certainly a factor in recovery from head injury.
Dr. Scott Rosa is a researcher who’s been studying the effects of traumatic injury to the head and neck. A major problem with head injury is how pressure and inflammatory chemicals can build up and compress the brain . Using advanced imaging, he’s finding that problems in the area where the head meets the neck can prevent proper drainage of fluid from the skull. This in turn causes the inflammatory molecules to stay in the brain and create more damage.
Initial studies are showing promise, as gentle upper cervical corrections are showing signs of relieving the pressure, and allowing much of the residual symptoms of brain injury to decline.
Does this mean that brain injury goes away? Of course not. But it may mean improved quality of life for those who have been battling the effects of such a traumatic incident.
Can gentle atlas corrections help everyone with TBI?
The answer is no. Not everyone with TBI has a structural problem in the Atlas and preventing the brain and nervous system from healing. A full Structural Chiropractic Examination is necessary to help determine if the Atlas Displacement Complex (ADC) is the main culprit.
What Are Some Signs?
- When you ask the person to sit or stand up as straight as they can with their eyes closed. If their head tilts repeatedly to one side even slightly, it may be a sign of ADC.
- If any doctor, massage therapist, or physical therapist has ever told you that one leg is shorter than the other, it may be a significant sign of ADC.
- When the person stands up straight, if one shoulder is visibly higher than the other, it may be a sign of ADC.
If you don’t feel you have the skills to do this quick screening, then I encourage anyone with a suspicion of ADC get a consultation with a Structural or Upper Cervical Chiropractor.
Most offices have Complimentary Consultations as a way to see if this gentle form of chiropractic is appropriate for your case.
If you’re serious about riding, then keeping the head and neck in the optimal position can save you lots of time, expense, and headaches (literally). Most of all, it provides a peace of mind that their condition has an innate capacity to heal from inside out.