Dementia in Football Players- Untreated Neck Injuries: The Missing Kink
The largest ever study of cases of football players with the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has, again, found a link between the condition and “prior participation in football”, particularly in professionals.
The study looked at the brains of 202 football players. 111 were former NFL players, and found CTE in 110 of them, or 99% of those studied.
The researchers found that, in addition to the NFL players, 48 of 53 brains of former college players showed signs of CTE. So did seven of eight who played professional football in Canada and nine of 14 semiprofessional players. The brains of college and professional players were more extensively affected. (1)
So In other words, the longer these men played the more trauma and repeated injury to the head and neck.
Nerve cells start to die shortly after being deprived of oxygen. Neurosurgeons surmised long ago that one of the likely causes of brain and cord sensitivity to decreases in blood flow is due to the chemical makeup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
Traumatic brain injuries are often associated with ruptured blood vessels that cause bleeding which increases fluids and consequently causes swelling in the brain. The brain, unlike all other parts of the body, does not have the ability to remove these fluids effectively. The swelling in turn creates back pressure against oxygenated arterial blood flow. Thus the chemical makeup of the Cerebrospinal Fluid makes it much more difficult for the brain to recover from ischemia (lack of blood flow) and leads to long term damage to the brain tissues.
The Craniocervical Spine, Blood and CSF Flow
In addition to the lack of blood flow and swelling to the brain, trauma can also affect cerebrospinal fluid flow in and out of the skull. The cerebrospinal fluid provides nutrients to the brain and removes toxins.
Twenty percent of the blood flow to the brain passes through the vertebral-basilar arteries, which pass through openings in six of the seven vertebrae of the cervical spine and from there into a canal between the top bone in the neck(atlas) and skull, and finally through the foramen magnum in the skull. The drainage system of the brain also passes through largest opening in the skull, the foramen magnum, as well as other openings in the base of the skull and empties into the vertebral veins in the upper cervical spinal canal.
Injuries and strains to the upper cervical spine occur on nearly every play of a football game. The top two bones of the neck are the most susceptible to injury and misalignment because the joints are more horizontal. The traumatic forces to the brain and upper neck are left untreated in football players. So this is why the NFL players have CTE at such an alarming rate. They have more trauma, over a longer period of time. The joints of the spine begin to degenerate early in life for these players. The disc spaces between the vertebrae lose their height, and boney spurs begin to grow. This contributes to the lack of circulation to the brain.
Blair Upper Cervical Care and Brain Function
There is plenty of evidence that CTE has its roots in abnormal brain activity. The question is: What causes the abnormal brain activity? Upper Cervical Doctors have known for years that a patient’s brain circulation can drastically improve following a correction of the upper cervical spine. Research conducted by Michael Flannagan D.C. using upright MRI shows evidence that a misaligned Atlas (C-1) causes reduced CSF (Cerebrospinal fluid) flow and blood flow to the cerebral hemispheres. While this research is ongoing, it may shed light on an underlying cause for people with cognitive problems.
What Does A Blair Upper Cervical Doctor Do?
Blair Upper Cervical is a health care procedure with the goal of locating and correcting spinal misalignments in the neck. There is mounting evidence that upper neck misalignments interfere with normal nervous system function. These interferences can present with various symptoms that many healthcare providers simply mask with medication.
When a patient visits a Blair Upper Cervical Doctor a complete history is taken. The patient is then run through a series of objective tests that determine if the patient suffers from Upper Cervical Spine misalignment. If the testing indicates there is nervous system interference, then a set of precise x-rays are taken. The x-rays visualize the joints between the head and neck to measure direction and magnitude of the misalignment. The information received from these tests help the doctor make a custom tailored correction. The goal of Blair Upper Cervical Care is for the correction to “hold” as long as possible. When the spinal segment returns to its normal position and “holds,” it allows the brain and body to function better.