Concussion

An Insiders Look at Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Post Concussion Syndrome.

Bryan Johnson is a wonderful hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) clinician who I have been personally treated by many times. I found amazing results within my first few visits with Bryan including: clearer thinking, better focus, higher energy, desensitization of my scalp, headache evaporation, an overall sense of well being, and many other improvements. Bryan has conducted thousands of HBOT sessions in Los Angeles at his clinic O2 UP (o2underpressure.com). I have had such a success story with Bryan and HBOT. Because of this, I wanted to pick Bryan's brain regarding HBOT and head injuries and share it with all you that may be interested. Here's what Bryan had to say. 

Bryan Johnson - a HBOT Clinicians perspective. 

I’ve seen some great healings occur at O2 UP. The patients we’ve helped, range from those suffering from the effects of chemotherapy, to those with migraine headaches, patients with Parkinson’s, chronic fatigue, lyme disease, autism, professional athletes healing after an injury, and so many others.

 While I’ve seen impressive healing within these groups of conditions, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) is where I see the most consistent healing occur.

 Yet with all of the results I see firsthand, I’m continually confused by the fact that more doctors don’t  educate their patients  about HBOT as an option after a TBI. If nothing else, I hope that this post can at least educate you about what HBOT is, how it works, why there are discrepancies in reporting its efficacy, and what I’ve seen firsthand.  

FOX NEWS INTERVIEW WITH BRYAN JOHNSON 

What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

  To put it simply, HBOT has two main components -- pressure and concentrated oxygen.  During treatments the patient is usually lying down in pressurized chamber breathing concentrated oxygen. The pressure created by the chamber helps the body to become saturated with oxygen.  You can think of this process as being somewhat analogous to creating soda water.  To create soda water you need carbon dioxide, water, and pressure.  The pressure pushes the CO2 into the water giving you a fluid that is holding a gas.  In HBOT, the gas we use is oxygen and your body, being made up of mostly water, becomes the vessel for that oxygen.  This process is grounded firmly in physics and is pretty simple for most people to get their heads around.  How the body then uses the oxygen towards its advantage becomes a more hotly debated topic.  

How does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Work?

To those that see HBOT work on a daily basis, we would tell you that hyperbarics super-saturates the body with oxygen, decreases inflammation, promotes stem cell growth, and helps to grow new blood vessels (a process called angiogenesis).  What all of this is basically saying is that HBOT promotes healing!  Whether this healing happens with a wound that won’t heal on a diabetic patient’s foot, or a wound that can’t be seen since it’s internal, like the bruising you might find on a concussed brain; the benefit is all the same.  Oxygen helps the cells to promote healing in these areas.  

Doctors don't prescribe HBOT. Why?

Surprisingly enough, many doctors don’t feel that hyperbarics provides much benefit to patients.  The feeling is often that the body is already delivering enough oxygen through its normal respiratory process to provide the oxygen needed for healing.  Many doctors also feel that the studies done on hyperbarics for many conditions have not conclusively proven that there is benefit. This is why they won’t tell their patients about it or they flat out discourage its use.  

However, to gain better perspective on this difference in opinion I think we should look at the principles of how oxygen would support the brain after an injury, how some of the studies on HBOT and brain injuries were conducted, and some first-hand experiences.  From there you can make your own conclusions.  

BEFORE AND AFTER HBOT FOR TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

Your Brain needs oxygen

  Many people aren’t even aware of how energy-intensive of an organ their brain is.  We can better understand this by looking at the sheer amount of oxygen that it utilizes. Your brain uses 20% of the oxygen your body takes in, this is a huge amount for an organ that only weighs about 3 pounds. When an injury to the brain is sustained, there are a chain of events that ensue, directing blood-flow, releasing chemicals throughout the brain, and processes meant to deal with the shock of the injury.  However, due to these reactions and the inflammation that takes place, your injured brain isn’t necessarily getting the oxygen it needs to adequately heal.  This is the theory on why getting oxygen to the brain through the use of hyperbarics is thought to work.  Even without an injury your brain needs 20% of your body’s oxygen intake, so after an injury wouldn’t it make sense to give it even more to help with repair work?  Many people would intuitively arrive at this reasoning and in fact, there are a good number of doctors that believe HBOT is effective for these reasons.  However, there are still a large number of doctors who don’t see hyperbaric oxygen therapy as being beneficial for brain injuries.

A rebuttal to those who say HBOT is not effective. 

  Studies done on hyperbarics and brain injuries that were deemed somewhat inconclusive.This has fueled the disagreements on the benefit of oxygen therapy for brain injured patients.  Some of the “conclusions” from the studies done on concussions, PTSD, and TBI being treated with HBOT have said that the results prove that hyperbaric oxygen does not conclusively benefit these conditions.  This has caused many doctors to automatically write-off hyperbarics as a treatment.  However, if doctors were to look deeper into these studies, they would find a whole slew of problems with the application of studies themselves.  Dr. Paul Harch, who is one of the world’s leading experts on HBOT in use with brain injuries, talks about the tragic faults of these studies here:  http://www.hyperbaricmedicalfoundation.org/.  Basically, these studies were either headed by doctors with little to no HBOT experience, the treatment pressures were too high for brain injuries, the sham (or placebo) treatment was not actually a true sham treatment, or results were not properly represented.  This has led to a lot of miseducation about HBOT, that has kept many brain injured patients from even knowing that HBOT could be a viable option for them.  

Stories from patients themselves

As I’ve stated earlier, I have treated people with such a wide range of conditions at our clinic.  But truly, some of the stories that I love most have been of the effect HBOT has had on brain injuries.  Now, this is one issue that many naysayers of hyperbaric medicine have.  They say that many of the evidence is purely anecdotal.  However, having already discussed the issues with many of the studies, I think it’s important to share some of the firsthand accounts that I’ve had with brain injured patients.  The healing that has taken place has been clear and can be attributed to nothing but the oxygen sessions they are doing.  I’m not giving these stories as a foretelling of what you can expect from the therapy.  Rather they are to just show what can be possible.  

David - four concussions in five years...

The first story is of a gentleman that we’ll call David.  David was 82 years old when he first came in and had suffered from four concussions within a five year span.  It had been two years since his last concussion and he was plagued by continual headaches, brain-fog and fatigue that was keeping him from partaking in his once very active life.  The funny part of this story was that David actually had a long history with hyperbarics, but that focused more on its use in underwater medicine applications.  It was only recently that he realized that HBOT could be beneficial for his post-concussion symptoms.  After a number of phone calls with David, he finally came in to start his HBOT protocol.  After only five sessions, David’s constant headaches that he had had for two years completely went away and his thinking was much clearer.  David also noted that his energy levels were much improved and this caused him to want to continue with HBOT as a part of his general health routine.  Now more than 18 months after his first sessions David has happily been headache-free.  

Andrea 10 months post injury 

The second story is of a 15 year old girl that had a head injury from being hit by a car that caused her to be in a coma for two weeks.  The girl, who we'll call Andrea, came to me 10 months after her injury.  Luckily, Andrea had already made significant progress in her rehabilitation, but she was still suffering from headaches, lack of ability to concentrate, and anxiety due to her accident.  While she was able to slowly integrate back into school, she was not able to read or focus on her studies.  After a couple weeks of hyperbaric treatments Andrea’s mother called and said that Andrea wanted to tell me something.  As soon as Andrea took the phone I could sense the excitement in her voice.  She went on to explain that before her accident she loved to read.  However, after her accident she wasn’t even able to finish a single page because she just couldn’t focus.  Since starting her treatments though she had now finished one book and was part-way through her second book.  This was all within about 15 sessions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.  Both Andrea and her mother attribute this change to HBOT, because Andrea wasn’t pursuing any other new therapies and there was such a rapid change.  

Brad could only see in black and white after his injury...

For the last story, let me start by saying that I was supposed to have this article finished a couple weeks ago.  However, as I was writing this I had another client come in with post concussion syndrome.  I decided to hold off a couple weeks to see how my client does.  It just seemed like rather serendipitous timing to have a new client with a concussion right at the same time I’m starting this article!  So here’s what has happened.  This last client is a 43 year old named “Brad” that had his last concussion three years ago.  He was biking in the desert and hit his head in a crash against a rock that had him seeing in only black and white.  Since the accident Brad has been on the prescription drug Tramadol to take the edge off the CONSTANT headaches that he says are usually between a 7-9 in severity on a scale of 10.  After living with these headaches for three years Brad finally heard of hyperbarics and decided to give it a try.  At the point of writing this article, Brad has not taken Tramadol once in four days.  Brad says that he used to try going one day without taking Tramadol to see how it would feel.  When he did this he would need to take a nap on the floor of his office just to deal with the pain of his headaches.  Now HBOT he has not had to take Tramadol at all!   Brad still has more sessions to go with hyperbarics, but even this early into his treatment he’s already another positive story on the effects of hyperbaric oxygen with head injuries.

Conclusion

With my experience, no one can tell me that hyperbaric oxygen therapy isn’t beneficial to those with head injuries.  I see the results too frequently and consistently to not be confident in this healing modality.  However, with that said, it’s up to each individual to chose the therapies they want to incorporate into their healing journey.  My hope is that this article at least gives added perspective into the possibilities of hyperbaric oxygen in use with head injuries.  Talk to people whose lives have been touched by HBOT, do your research, and I wish you the best in your healing!

Disclaimer:

This article is purely informational. I am not a doctor, though I am a patient. This is not advise. 




Diving into Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

GETTING STARTED  

I missed 80 days of school my senior year due to my post concussion syndrome. By the end of the year I was recovering from my nerve pain and many symptoms associated with PCS. I took a gap year to fine tune my recovery and set out on a life changing journey. Part of my gap year was spent doing a program called SeaMester, a hands on sailing, leadership, oceanography, and scuba diving program. I had an incredible experience traveling all over the Caribbean on an 88 ft schooner for 3 months. A huge part of the program was focused on scuba diving. I needed to get an "ok" by my doctors prior to going on this trip because of my severe condition the year before. I was in a much better place, and they agreed I could safely go on this adventure.  

DIVING AND BECOMING ENERGIZED  

I had no diving experience prior to this journey, but by the end of the program I attained my open water, advanced open water, and rescue diver licenses. Something stood out to me when I was diving, I had much more energy when I finished the dive than when I started. It was like clockwork, every time I dove, especially on the deeper dives, I would come up with more energy and clearer thinking. I certainly was noticing a pattern, and I wanted to figure out why. 

STUMBLING UPON HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY

I had known that hyperbaric oxygen therapy had been used in concussion recovery, but the treatment was cutting edge, expensive, and not many doctors were using it in there tool kit at the time. I thought there must be a correlation here between diving and hyperbaric O2. My hypothesis was  breathing oxygen at pressure while diving may have a similar effect on me as hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

WHAT IS HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy brings pure or nearly pure oxygen at higher than normal atmospheric pressure into your blood plasma, tissues, and body. Your body needs oxygen to survive, and giving your body pure oxygen under the right pressure and conditions may reduce inflammation, detoxify cells, improve circulation, and promote stem cell production. Many reported benefits include mental clarity, alertness, stress and anxiety relief, quicker injury recovery, improved sleep, and heightened energy levels. 

SEArCHING FOR TREATMENT

I had great effects from breathing normal oxygen under pressure with recreational diving, and I really wanted to see if pure oxygen administered under pressure in a medical facility would have an even greater effect. Once I returned from my gap year, I spoke with one of my doctors at the Boston Children's Hospital about my experience diving. She thought it was incredible, and said I should look into hyperbaric therapy. I looked into it more and more, finding a large number of positive studies and testimonials for head injury patients and post concussion victims. When I went to school in California, the first thing I did was look for a hyperbaric oxygen treatment center. I found one in Los Angeles called O2 Up, a great company run by an amazing man. I reached out to him, got an appointment, and started on this journey. He recommended that I do 40 sessions of 1 hour each, using a general protocol for head injuries.

CONFIRMING MY HYPOTHESIS 

 After that first session in the tank I was amazed! I could feel the oxygen going into my brain and bringing me much more energy. I got out of the session feeling even better than coming up from a dive. I knew I was onto something that could help fix my fatigue. So, I pursued it. I did the 40 sessions and then some. Each time, I felt more energized and was thinking clearer. I can honestly say hyperbaric oxygen therapy was an amazing treatment for me. It lifted the fog that surrounded my thoughts, giving me more energy to enjoy my life to its fullest. 

Disclaimer:

This article is purely informational. I am not a doctor, though I am a patient. This is not advise. 

Check out some Research

20+ Medications Later With Post Concussion Syndrome

Post Concussion Syndrome sucks...

Post Concussion Syndrome sucks...

Here is a list of all the medications prescribed to me for my post concussion syndrome. I have included some of the more shocking side effects of each medication. For me, it became so terrible to have doctors change my medications on a weekly basis. It gets to a point where they're prescribing more medication just to combat the side effects of the medication you were initially given. One doctor told me how he was going to go about helping me; I quote " we are going to through medication at the wall, hoping something sticks." He was a Harvard med. school dr. and professor at a very respected hospital..  However, I was a 17 year old kid being dosed with many chemicals that ultimately did not improve my condition. I can't blame him for trying to help, he gave me some valuable information on post concussion syndrome, and he did as any doctor in his situation would have done in 2011. By March of 2012, I decided to stop taking all these medications I was prescribed. I was having panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and not much relief from my pain. I was so overwhelmed with these medications that I stopped taking them cold turkey... not the best idea, but I felt as if I needed to. I couldn't eat anything for 2 weeks, and what I did try to eat I threw up.. I lost 15 pounds in 14 days... I suffered through the withdrawal symptoms and found different ways to treat my pain.  By no means am I saying these medications cannot be helpful, but for me they were not able to solve my problems without drastic side effects. Thankfully, I am no longer taking any of these medications. I took an alternative approach, and became the first pediatric chronic pain medical marijuana patient in Maine. High CBD marijuana changed my life. Find out how.

1. CYMBALTA 20 MG CAPSULE

USES: DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, AND NERVE PAIN.  

Side effects: Thoughts of suicide, Symptoms of aggression, Irritability, Panic attacks, Extreme worry, Restlessness, Acting without thinking, Abnormal excitement, nausea, dry mouth, sleepiness, fatigue, constipation, loss of appetite, sweating, unusual bruising or bleeding, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, yellowing of the eyes or skin, dark-colored urine, fever with sweating, confusion, racing heart, and muscle stiffness, extreme weakness, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue, swelling in other parts of the body, trouble breathing or swallowing, a blistering or peeling rash, chest pain, difficulty breathing, worsening depression...

2. AXERT 6.25 MG TABLET 

Uses: to treat migraines.

Side effects: Drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, sensation of tingling numbness or prickling, dry mouth, chest pain, jaw pain, fainting, pounding heartbeat, vision changes, weakness of one side of the body, confusion, slurred speech, serotonin syndrome, hallucinations, loss of coordination, severe dizziness, unusual restlessness...

3. KETOROLAC (TORADOL) 10 MG TABLET 

Uses: short term treatment of moderate to severe pain

Side effects: upset stomach, unusual tiredness, vomiting, constipation, fainting, hearing changes, pounding heartbeat, liver disease, swelling of face and throat... 

4.TROPIRAMATE 25 MG TABLET 

Uses: to control seizures(epilepsy) and prevent migraine headaches

Side effects: tiredness, drowsiness, dizziness, loss of coordination, tingling of the hands/feet, loss of appetite, bad taste in your mouth, diarrhea, weight loss, confusion, slowed thinking, trouble concentrating or paying attention, nervousness, memory problems, speech/language problems, suicidal thoughts, kidney stones...

5. MAXALT 10 MG TABLET 

Uses: to treat migraines, pain, sensitivity to light, and other symptoms of migraines

Side effects: weakness, fatigue, numbness/tingling/prickling sensation, chest/jaw/neck tightness, fainting, slurred speech, pounding heartbeat, confusion, blue fingers, hearing changes, mental/mood changes, hallucinations, loss of coordination...

6. Indomethacin 25 mg capsule 

Uses: to relieve pain, swelling, and joint stiffness caused by arthritis, gout, bursitis, and tendonitis.

Side effects: heart burn, headache, upset stomach, dizziness, drowsiness, swelling of the hands and feet, weight gain, hearing changes, extreme tiredness...

7. Methlyprednisolone 4 mg dosepk 

Uses: various conditions such as allergic disorders, arthritis, blood diseases, breathing problems, certain cancers, eye diseases...

side effects: stomach upset, headache, dizziness, trouble sleeping, weight gain, severe stomach and abdominal pain, black stool, increased thirst/urination, pounding heart, shortness of breath, puffy face, mood changes 

8. BUTALB-ACETAMIN-CAF 

uses: to treat tension headaches 

side effects: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, shaking, tremors, shortness of breath, mood changes...

9. ZOFRAN

uses: to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by cancer drug treatment and radiation. 

side effects: Headache, dizziness, drowsiness, tiredness, constipation...

10. IC AMITRIPTYLINE HCL 80 MG 

Uses: to treat mental mood problems such as depression, it may improve mood, feelings of anxiety, and help you sleep better.

Side Effects: drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, blurred vission, weight gain, mask like facial expressions, decreases sexual ability, fainting, seizures, worsened depression, suicidal thoughts...

11. DIAZEPAM 5 MG 3X A DAY VALIUM 

Uses: to treat anxiety, acute alcohol withdrawal, and seizures.

Side effects: Drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, constipation, headache, memory problems, agitation, hallucinations, slurred speech, clumsiness, trouble walking...

12. DRANABINOL 5 MG 

Uses: nausea  associated with chemotherapy.

Side effects: Dizziness, Drowsiness, feeling high, exaggerated sense of well being, slurred speech, weakness, dry mouth, mood changes...

13. AZITHROMYCIN 250 MG TABLET 

Uses: bacterial infections.

Side effects: upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, liver problems, muscel weakness, dizziness...

14. GABAPENTIN 100 MG CAPSULE 

Uses: to calm the brain 

Side effects: emotional ups and downs, slurred speech, changes in thinking clearly, feeling lightheaded, shakiness, changes in balance, problem with how one acts, swelling in the arms or legs weight gain....

15. DIHYDROERGOTAMINE 

Uses: migraines

Side effects: upset stomach, bad taste in mouth, nose irritation...

16. KETORLOLAC IV

uses: short term treatment of moderate to severe pain

Side effects: upset stomach, unusual tiredness, vomiting, constipation, fainting, hearing changes, pounding heartbeat, liver disease, swelling of face tongue and throat, 

17. DIHYDROERGOTAMINE IV 

Uses: migraines

Side effects: Heart attack, upset stomach, bad taste in mouth, nose irritation...

18. ADERALL xr 20 mg

Uses: ADHD

Side effects: trouble sleeping, easily angered, mood changes, anxiety, nervous, loss of appetite, feeling restless, anxious, head pain, low energy...

19. Aderall 10mg

Uses: ADHD

Side effects: trouble sleeping, easily angered, mood changes, anxiety, nervous, loss of appetite, feeling restless, anxious, head pain, low energy...

20. streterra 18 mg 2x a day

Uses: ADHD 

Side effects: suicidal ideation in children under the age of 18, depression, dark urine, irregular heartbeat, muscle spasms... 

21.hydrocodone

Uses: treatment of severe pain

Side effects: chills, depression, nervousness, difficult breathing, blurred vision, changes in consciousness, confusion... 

22. Oxycodone

Uses: treatment of severe pain 

Side effects: severe vomiting, chills, confusion, difficulty breathing, lightheadedness, fever, blood in the urine...

23. Providgil 

Uses: narcolepsy

Side effects: Blurred vision, mood changes, memory problems, depression...

 

Disclaimer:

This article is purely informational. I am not a doctor, though I am a patient. This is not advise. 


Who Am I?

About me

I am a 21 year old photographer, sailor, rescue diver, and entrepreneur. Unfortunately, when I was 16 I faced a life changing head injury, giving me a massive concussion and a fractured neck. Over the next few months I hit my head 4 more times, amplifying my injury severely. I developed post concussion syndrome, and my life came to a grinding halt.

My Injury

Everyday I was facing massive headaches, irritability, depression, fatigue, and severe nerve pain. I had a team of doctors from some of the best medical institutions in the world working on my recovery. One of my doctors told me he was going to through medication at the wall hoping something stuck. I tried 20+ very strong medications to treat my pain and symptoms. None of these medications did anything for me but provide temporary relief. In fact, the side effects of the medicine where so strong that I decided to stop using them all together. They brought, anxiety, confusion, loss of words, panic attacks, depression, fatigue, and many other issues.

Switching Gears

 After failing to recover with western medicine, I was forced to look for alternative treatments. I started seeing a chiropractor, a neuromuscular therapist, a doctor of osteopathy, an acupuncturist, a hypnotherapist, a massage therapist, and a physical therapist. Some of these treatments were better than others. Seeing all these doctors and specialists taught me so much about concussions and post concussion syndrome. What was absolutely crucial in my recovery was believing that I could get better. I've been through a crazy journey over the past few years, and I really want to share how I got better. 

Finding Myself 

In the aftermath, I had a transformational life experience. I took all that I had learned about life and set out to adventure. I took a gap year before attending university in California. I backpacked throughout Europe by myself, sailed more than 1500 miles in the Caribbean, attained my rescue diver license, and received many sailing certifications. Since my injury, I have traveled more than 87,000 miles on 3 different continents, passionately documenting all my experiences. 

Persevering 

During my injury, I was taken away from everything in my life that I loved. I promised myself that I would find a way out of the crippling pain, and back into the sport I loved the most. Post injury I've coached competitive sailing to everyone from beginners to varsity sailors. I hold my level one, two, and  three U.S. Sailing coaching certifications. I am certified in first aid and CPR by the American Red Cross. I hold my IYT navigation masters, vhf operator license, and sailing certification. I've sailed since I was 11 years old. It's a passion of mine that I will absolutely carry with me for the rest of my life. It has taken me all around the world, bringing me to some of the coolest places on earth. This is my story, check it out. 

HOW I Didn't know I had a Broken Neck for 6 Months.

The First Of Many 

My junior year in high school I was hit in the head by the boom of a 420 sailboat while coming in from sailing practice. I suffered a massive concussion. The following weeks I did as any concussed patient would do in 2011, I removed myself from any stimuli, and got many hours of dark room rest. I had weekly visits with physicians to track my recovery and seek recommendations to improve my headaches. There was not much I could do they told me, just rest and I should recover soon. Five weeks past and I was still facing constant throbbing headaches. Summer was approaching and I wanted to start living my life like a normal kid again so I started resuming my daily activities. 

Repeated Head Trauma

Unfortunately over that summer I hit my head 4 more times.  The biggest of which I slammed my head on the dashboard of my boat as I  was going over a wave. This caused tremendous pain to my brain. After this blow I assumed it might be another 5 weeks to recover, but after 5 weeks my symptoms were getting progressively worse. I developed allodynia (hypersensitivity of the nerves), which quickly moved to my whole body, causing tremendous headache with just a simple touch. My headaches were always present, and my mood was awful. I started seeing neurologists, pain management doctors, Sports medicine doctors, and many other specialists to see if they could help. I was told that because of my repeated head trauma I had developed allodynia, and they were looking for medications that could alleviate my symptoms. It had been months from my last head injury and I was in more pain than the initial blow, these doctors were prescribing me all kinds of medication to combat the nerve pain and headaches. I was put on a total of 20+ medications ranging from Valium to Prednisone to anti seizure drugs. One Harvard doctor told me that the only thing he can do is through medications at the wall hoping something sticks. The same doctor was very unsure why I was in so much pain without the mental dysfunctions of a concussion. He told me that I have post concussion syndrome, and it's very possible I might never get better from it. Quite an awful thing to hear as 17 year old senior in high school. I couldn't go out, I could barely go to school, the bumps on the road were so painful from my allodynia that most days I would arrive in so much pain that I could only stay for an hour.  I remember days when I arrived at school just to turn back around because a friend of mine patted me on the back to say hello (this caused shocking pain to rush to my head). It's hard to believe looking back at it, just how restricted my life once was.  I missed 80 days of school my senior year in high school and had to get a 504 plan just so I could graduate. 

Finding My neck Injury 

About 6 months into the whole ordeal, my doctor told me we should X-ray my neck because it could have some relation to my headaches. Well, it turned out that I had suffered a compression fracture on my C6 vertebrae. My neck went up and to the right because of this injury, pressing hard on my occiput and C2 vertebrae. The occiput and C2 vertebrae are strongly associated with headaches and nerve pain if they are misaligned. I would think that doctors specialized in treating concussions would X-ray your neck, especially if you have prolonged symptoms. It took them 6 months to figure this out. By this time my pain levels had progressed so much that it was unbearable. I was prescribed Oxycodone and other strong narcotics to relieve myself from the pain. Thankfully, I was able to find other ways to relieve my pain, avoiding the dark trap that too many pills can bring. 

LESSONS FROM JON

If you are having prolonged symptoms from a concussion, or if you are having headaches all the time, check to see if your neck  is injured. This is becoming common practice for doctors to check, but not every doctor does it. There was a strong connection found recently with neck injuries and post concussion syndrome. The neck can be responsible for all sorts of pain and discomfort in your head, so PLEASE consult with your doctor about your neck if you are still in pain.

Disclaimer:

This article is purely informational. I am not a doctor, though I am a patient. This is not advise. 

Why I took the SAT's Concussed, and why you shouldn't.

First, A Bit Of Background

Growing up on the coast of Maine I was surrounded by the sailing community. Its culture of perseverance had engrained itself in me since I was young. I pushed through the freezing weather and battled heavy winds just to compete in the sport that I grew to love so much. I was uneducated on the subject of concussions, I knew they could have a strong effect, seeing some of my closest friends take a hit by the boom. I remember thinking, what my friends went through would never happen to me. (My Naive 16 year old self)

How I Got The Concussion 

 During the spring of my junior year, I was ending practice, and sailing into the dock with my best friend. As I approached an average upwind landing, I prepared  for the glide zone(an area where you have enough momentum to let your sails out and "glide" into the dock). I had done a less than stellar landing, but I expected my crew to hop off the boat and catch us on the dock. It was certainly my fault,  I hadn't gotten us close enough. We had missed the opportunity and our boat was swiftly drifting away from the dock. I stood up, and out of frustration pushed the tiller hard to port...  the boom whipped over and smashed my brain's left hemisphere with 15 kts of power. Imagine a baseball bat hitting you in the head at 17.4 miles per hour. I fell to the bottom of the boat, staying conscious, and instantly knew I had sustained a concussion. Feeling really drunk without the buzz, topped off with a splitting headache, I went to lie down on the ground. I rested while everyone else was de-rigging. Honestly I had know idea what I was in for on, I just pushed through the practice debrief in the spirit of no pain no game.

TAKING THE SAT'S THE NEXT DAY 

Somehow I was able to drive myself home without getting in a crash, something I strongly urge against. I told my parents what happened, and they were pretty much just as in the dark on concussions as I was. They told me to get some rest, as I had a big day ahead of me. I told them I could go through with it. I took the SAT's with a full blown concussion. I suffered through 6 hours of testing with a throbbing headache, and a huge feeling of what the hell am I doing here.. As each hour passed, my headache grew stronger and stronger. Of course, If I had a time machine I would not go through with taking this test with a concussion. It really set my recovery back. The weekend passed and I was still in throbbing pain. I went to school on monday just to take the famous concussion test. No surprise here, it was very clear I had a concussion. The school nurse, who actually ended up being a huge savior of mine, told me to go home and shut off all stimuli. When she found out I had taken the SAT's on Saturday, she FREAKED out. What the hell was I thinking... I missed 3 weeks of school immediately after the test because I was in such severe pain and disorientation.  Words of advice, If you ever get a concussion make sure you don't take the SAT's the day after.  

You're Probably wondering what my score was??

I got a 1580 out of 2400... not the best score by any means, but hey... I had a concussion 

Let me know what you think... 

 

Disclaimer:

This article is purely informational. I am not a doctor, though I am a patient. This is not advise. 

 

 

Saunas, Ice Baths, and Post Concussion Syndrome.

I come from a strongly Finish and Italian family. I have 3 middle names Toivo Olavi Maki, all of which are Finish. I traveled to Finland when I was 13 to spend time with family and experience my homeland. What I found very interesting about Finnish culture is how integrated Saunas are in society. 99% of Finns sauna at least once a week. There are 3 million saunas for a country with only 5.3 million people. Finns believe that saunas are a key part of staying healthy and removing toxins from the body. Using a sauna for 15 minutes can increase your white blood cell count; which can boost your immune system, alleviate chronic pain, and increase joint mobility. A traditional Finnish sauna routine consists of getting in the sauna for 15-20 minutes then jumping into a ice cold body of water for 2 minutes. Ultimately, this fluctuation of hot and cold temperatures has a great neurological effect on the body. Ice cold temperature on injuries have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect allowing for faster recovery times and pain reduction. Getting back to my roots was especially helpful after sustaining a massive concussion and neck injury when I was 17.

1 Sauna for every 1.76 people in Finland

 
Shroom TECH Sport by Onnit
 

Months after the initial injury I was still facing severe nerve pain on an hourly basis. I had hit my head more than 5 times and suffered a compression fracture to my neck. I developed something called allodynia (hypersensitivity of the nerves). This is a terrible condition to have especially when it's associated with a head injury. Imagine a simple pat on the back feeling like nails exploding in your brain. It's something that is very hard to explain to people because unless you are going through it, it seems as if you are exaggerating.

After many failed prescriptions and medications, one of my doctors recommended treating my pain with hot and cold therapy. I used this fluctuation between hot and cold just like the Finns do, but to treat my allodynia and nerve pain from my post concussion syndrome. The effects were incredible, giving me relief from my headaches and toned down my allodynia. I used this treatment of about twice a day for six months with great success. Not only was I reducing my pain levels, but I was becoming much more energized. In addition to this hot and cold therapy, I take daily cold showers.  I find many of the same benefits come from this, and it's much easier to integrate into your daily routine. Cold showers have shown to Increase your bodies circulation, immune system, mood, and alertness.

If you don't have access to a sauna dont worry. You can get similar results from a hot shower and an ice bath. For me I would put my head and or body into a tub of water and ice. Sometimes I will just use a sink, submerging my head for headache relief.  Generally I will hold myself under for 30 seconds - 2 minutes (you may get a brain freeze, but trust me its worth it) and jump into a hot shower. I would repeat this process until my pain resided.