An Integrated Approach to Treating Concussions

“We have all been hit in the head,” said Jamie Francis to me, when hearing me talk about my Integrated Cranials course ages ago. It was simple, sweet, and extremely eye opening. At some point in time, unless we go around wearing a helmet, all of us have taken a good knock to the cranium.

In classes and in clinic, I always ask if anyone has had a concussion. “Not that I remember,” tends to be the most common response that I receive. Of course, in our formative years, we may not even remember hitting our head, and in sports, for instance, we may have had our head hit so many times that we don’t even consider these hits as “big events” worth investigating.

Either way, the human cranium is home to the most important piece of processing tissue that we have: our brain! The cranium is even referred to as the “Cranial Vault,” as it protects our brain, and it is living breathing tissue that deserves to be honored, worked with, and treated for optimal human health, movement and happiness.

I recently had the honor to co-treat with Noah Drucker, and we worked with a young parkour instructor. He had been having hard times paying attention in school and focusing in general, as well as some lingering headaches after a compressive concussion. With a quick assessment of the cranial nerves that control the eyes, we were able to determine that his nerves were not firing properly. In this case, when we shined a light in his eye, it did not constrict. The pupils are supposed to constrict to protect the retina from too much stimulus from light, and this normal response to light is called miosis.  If the pupils do not respond normally to light and absence of light, headaches and other symptoms can occur. With the brilliant assessment and treatment tool of Proprioceptive-Deep Tendon Reflex (P-DTR), we were able to correct this issue in moments. The results were mind blowing, and both Noah and I wished we had video recorded the experience.

I then palpated the skull, and listening to his stories and seeing a video of the trauma, was able to find a dysfunction of the sphenobasilar junction (SBJ). I find that with almost any head trauma, this junction, sometimes referred to as a symphysis, becomes dysfunctional. As this is the pump for the cerebrospinal fluid that washes and nourishes our brain, and the fulcrum about which our cranium gently folds with inhalation and exhalation, it is extremely important in our recovery, breathing, and healing.  After treating this dysfunction, we had moved onto the rest of his body looking at older patterns. At the end of the session, his vision was better, headache gone, brain fogginess resolved, and his mind absolutely blown by the work.

In another case, a trainer had come in with a variety of aches and pains, and Noah and I found out that he had several concussions during his youth. Even non-painful dysfunctions live in our system and can cause all sorts of havoc throughout the entire body over time.

Craniosacral therapy teaches that the cranium mirrors the pelvis; in other words, dysfunction in the head will be connected to dysfunctions in the pelvis.  I was able to assess his frontal bone concussion sites in relationship to the rest of his body. I quickly determined that his concussions were resulting in lower abdominal weakness. As I demonstrated and explained this to him, a conspicuous light bulb went off over his head.

Years after his concussions, he had had two separate inguinal hernias on both sides of his abdomen.  Despite being an incredibly fit trainer, the effects of his concussions lived in his body and created a weakness in his lower abdomen manifesting fertile ground for the hernias.

We worked the frontal bone, the scar, and the remaining neurological effects, and upon standing, his pelvis was living in a new balanced location, and he perceived the change in his own abdominal movements and contractions. I then added in education on what he could do on his own for self care to help maintain this newly found connection to both his frontal bone and abdomen.

Whether new or old, acute or chronic, head injuries can be assessed and greatly improved at DPPS. And whether there is pain presenting now or the pain was in the past, the current function of the whole body can be improved, and the detective work we do can help connect the dots between all areas of injury and pain.

– authored by Jordan Shane Terry