One of the most frequent questions I get from TBI clients in my Vermont law practice is: “Are there alternative therapies I can explore to help support my recovery from a traumatic brain injury without risking further harm?” Physicians practicing “integrative oncology” offer a multi-disciplinary approach to patient care for cancer that implements complementary therapies in collaboration with conventional treatment. Although TBI medicine is not as well organized, the peer reviewed TBI literature does support similar evidence-based complementary therapies for the treatment of TBI. Several have been featured in prior posts in this blog, including yoga and other mindfulness based therapies, exercise therapies, dietary therapies (especially foods rich in ‘polyphenols” found in many fruits and vegetables) and promising supplements including melatonin and curcumin (found in tumeric, curcumin reduces the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation.)
Another supplement receiving increasing attention in the literature is resveratrol, a “phytoalexin” produced by plants such as the red grape in response to various stresses, which promotes disease resistance. Read More
Victims of mild traumatic brain injury (“mTBI”) commonly report psychological distress, which is not surprising given the impact the injury can have on every aspect of everyday life including but not limited to balance, vision, sleeping, physical discomfort including headaches, and perhaps most significantly thinking clearly. Patients often report that they are not the same person and fear that person will never return.
Among the chronic symptoms seen in these children were forgetfulness, memory problems, sensitivity to light and noise, ADHD and even psychological problems. Sadly, many of these children had been misdiagnosed as suffering from unrelated ADHD, sleep disorders, depression, etc. This misdiagnosis, the researchers noted, leads to treatment that is not suited to the problem, thus causing the children prolonged suffering. Read More
A new study published February 16, 2022 by the American Academy of Neurology in the Journal “Neurology” finds that the frequency of clinically meaningful poor cognitive outcomes one year after a concussion are more common than previously thought. The results, says study author Raquel Gardner, MD, of the University of California San Francisco, “highlight the need to better understand the mechanisms underlying poor cognitive outcome, even after relatively mild brain injuries, to improve therapy for recovery.” Read More
So called “mild” traumatic brain injury (“mTBI”) can have long-term, disabling consequences (in both civilian and military populations);
that this injury is heterogeneous in both presentation and clinical outcome (in other words, every injury is different); and
that interventions targeted to the individual presentation of the injury (whether it is predominantly vestibular, cognitive, oculomotor, headache, sleep or mood related, or some combination) can reduce symptoms in otherwise intractable patients.
The message is that ignoring the symptoms and hoping that they will ultimately disappear – the approach often taken in the past – is not wise for either the individual or for society as a whole. Read More
For those not familiar with the term, a “meta-analysis” is a quantitative, formal, epidemiological study design used to systematically assess the results of previous research to derive conclusions about that body of research. Dr. Rebecca Acabchuk and her team at UConn’s Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention and Policy (InCHIP) have just published the first ever systematic review and meta-analysis on the “Therapeutic Effects of Meditation, Yoga and Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Chronic Symptoms of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury,” in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, the journal of the International Association of Applied Psychology.
Studies over the last several years have shown that the lymphatic system serving the brain, located in the membranes covering the brain (the “meninges”) plays an important role in brain injury recovery.
As most people know, the lymphatic system helps to rid the body of toxins and waste, including the byproducts of the body’s immune response to injury. For brain injury this is sometimes described as “damage/danger-associated molecular patterns” – “DAMPs” – such as protein aggregates, necrotic cells, and cellular debris.
Researchers at the University of Virginia, at the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia, have released an important study furthering our understanding of the role meningeal lymphatic dysfunction plays in causing some patients to suffer severe and long-lasting impairments following even a “mild” traumatic brain injury (TBI) and helps to explain why these injuries increase the risk for neurodegenerative problems such as Alzheimer’s, ALS and dementia. Read More
American Academy of Neurology publishes an important study showing consistent evidence of axonal injury following a single TBI for years after injury using multiple measures, including a blood biomarker, MRI/DTI and volumetric analysis, and functional tests
In 2015, Dr. John Leddy and his groundbreaking concussion team at the University of Buffalo published a peer reviewed article cautioning that symptoms after head injury, including cognitive symptoms, that have traditionally been ascribed to brain injury can originate, at least in part, from injury to the neck, He counseled that the cervical spine should be examined and, if injured, should be treated to address these symptoms. “Brain or strain? Symptoms alone do not distinguish physiologic concussion from cervical/vestibular injury.”
A review of the literature published not long after the Leddy article, in the Journal of Sports Medicine, sounded a similar theme. “Cervical Spine Involvement in Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A Review.” It noted that many post-concussion symptoms can be explained by injuries to structures near or in the head, other than the brain itself. “For example,” the authors note, “following a trauma, structures such as the cervical spine, the vestibular ocular system and the temporomandibular joint can be injured.” They note, for example, that “neck pain, headaches, dizziness and balance dysfunction are common symptoms associated with both mTBI and WAD” (cervical spine injury.) Addressing neck injuries, they suggest, may lead to better concussion recovery. A randomized controlled trial testing this hypothesis is currently in process. Read More