Concussions and Chiropractic: Getting Athletes Back in the Game

How Chiropractic Adjustments Help the Brain Recover from a Concussion

If you or your child are an athlete, and you’ve suffered a concussion, you need to give your brain and body the appropriate amount of time to recover. Here’s how Chiropractic can help your mind and body heal.

Concussions pose a serious health risk to all athletes. They are not to be taken lightly and require the immediate attention of healthcare professionals. After appropriate emergency care, Chiropractic can help the brain and nervous system recover from a concussion.


What is a Concussion and What Causes Them?

Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that are often caused by a blow to the head, which causes the brain to strike the inside of the skull. Concussions can lead to swelling in the brain, similar to a bruise, as well as vascular damage within the skull. Though concussions may result in loss of consciousness, this is not always the case.

Any sport in which players collide or fall to the ground can result in a concussion. Examples include lacrosse, wrestling, football, soccer, and martial arts. Concussions aren’t always caused by blows to the head. Sometimes blows to the body can have enough force to shake the brain inside of the skull.

If a concussion is suspected, the athlete must immediately stop practice or leave the game. Staying in the game or practice increases the risk of complications. Not allowing adequate concussion recovery time can lead to more concussions or an increased amount of time required to heal.

How to Tell if an Athlete Has a Concussion

If you think that you or your child has suffered a concussion, it’s best to err on the side of caution and see an emergency room physician. Go to the nearest hospital immediately if you our your child experiences any of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Seizure

  • Amnesia

  • Disorientation

  • Signs and feelings of confusion

  • Headache of increasing severity

  • Vomiting and/or nausea

  • Double vision or different-sized pupils

  • Irritability, sadness, or nervousness

  • Drowsiness

  • Balance problems

  • Light sensitivity

  • Changes in memory or concentration.

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Increased need for sleep

  • Difficulty reading

  • Signs of whiplash

Doctors will often use imaging to determine the severity of a concussion. This may include a CT scan or an MRI to rule out hemorrhaging (bleeding) of the brain. The athlete’s doctor will also take a full medical history, conduct a neurological exam, and test the athlete’s balance.

How Chiropractic Can Help

After you have seen a physician and have received appropriate emergency care, Chiropractic care can help you recover from a concussion. Your chiropractor will likely test the following:

  • Range of motion in the cervical spine (neck and skull)

  • Cognitive abilities after injury

  • Balance and equilibrium

  • Vision

  • Motor skills

  • Internal body communication


After an examination, a chiropractor will perform adjustments to restore proper motion to the spine and skull. Adjustments help the healing process by enhancing healthy neurological input from the brain to the body. Other recovery essentials include:

  • Resting your brain: Keep away from technology, including texting, email and television. Give yourself a break from school, homework, and work (if possible). Your brain needs to think less in order to recover.

  • Resting your body: Don’t physically exert yourself. Avoid doing anything that increase your heart rate.

  • Fuel your recovery: Increase intake of healthy fats, such as coconut oil, avocado, and omega-3 fish oil. Healthy fats decrease inflammation and swelling in the brain.

How Long is the Recovery?

Athletes with mild concussions typically see improvement in seven to 14 days. Athletes with repeated trauma or severe injury might take longer to recover. Repeated concussions can prove fatal, due to increased and rapid brain swelling.

Keep in mind that these are estimates. No two concussions are alike, and therefore no two recoveries are alike. Athletes should not return to sport or practice without clearance from their physician. Once an athlete has been cleared to resume activity, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that they do so gradually over a five-day period.

  • Day 1: Low-impact activity, such as walking or jogging

  • Day 2: Increased intensity of jogging, running, or biking

  • Day 3: High-intensity activity, such as sprinting

  • Day 4: Contact activity (a “mellow practice situation”)

  • Day 5: Full participation


Chiropractic Care at The Shift

The skilled doctors of Chiropractic at The Shift understand the potential severity of a concussion. They are here to help the body and mind’s natural recovery process in healing from a concussion. Athletes want to return to sport and get back to doing what they love. The downtown Oakland chiropractors at The Shift will ensure that they do so in a safe and healthy manner.