A recent study of young athletes with and without prior concussion found that those who previously experienced a concussion still had MRI evidence of decreased cerebral perfusion (i.e., brain blood flow) and brain volumes predominantly in the frontotemporal regions of the brain 2 years after the injury(ies).
This discovery of poor cerebral perfusion persisting after traumatic brain injury adds to the growing list of other studies correlating low cerebral perfusion with a history of TBI. As I have discussed in other posts, the low cerebral perfusion is due to damage to the autonomic nervous system.
The damage results in inadequate delivery of oxygen to the brain, and results in symptoms such as lightheadedness, altered balance, light intolerance, headaches, neck tightness, anxiety and is even the cause of nicotine cravings.
GREEN areas indicate reduced cerebral blood flow.
But an even more important element of this study is the fact that all the athletes had been deemed “recovered” from their concussions within 18 days after the initial injury yet they had brain damage that was detectable 24 months after the concussion.
Furthermore, those athletes with the greatest the number the concussions experienced the greatest the degree of brain damage. This implies that athletes are adding damage upon damage with each concussion, a phenomena referred to as cumulative brain damage.
The data in this study highlights how the present clinical and questionnaire-based criteria to clear an athlete to return to play are completely inadequate to detect brain injury as this study demonstrates
Obviously, the evidence of brain damage is proof that the criteria used at the time of their concussions was not sensitive enough to detect that the athletes still had brain damage from their injury, these athletes were allowed to continue play at the risk of developing a severe second concussion.
What is needed to protect these athletes from further chronic and potentially disabling brain damage is an accurate way to measure the physical health of the brain. Testing ideally should be portable, rapid and not require expert technicians to operate so that teams can monitor their athletes quickly and more reliably.
Spectral analysis of the autonomic nervous system meets all these requirements. A four-component evaluation of the autonomic nervous system can be done in 17 minutes with minimal training, can be performed in the training facility or locker room, and provides scientifically valid and reproducible results.
Spectral analysis is a very sensitive in detecting damage to the sympathetic and/or parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. Normal results require a wide-range of brain areas to function properly, hence traumatic brain injury can easily be detected with spectral analysis.
Furthermore, the Autonomic Advantage Brain Recovery Program helps reverse underlying metabolic inflammation, restores functionality to natural brain repair mechanisms, and can reverse even longstanding damage from prior traumatic brain injury.
Call 623-208-4226 to learn how our recovery program can help you or your athletes.