My husband and I were excited for our youngest son’s senior year of college football. He was the captain of his team and their starting inside linebacker…
We Received the Call
Pre–season training camp had begun and we were looking forward to our cross-country trips to watch our son play the game he loved. But we received a call four days into training camp: ”Mom and Dad, I’m in the training room and I’m being checked out for a concussion. I think I got it a couple of days ago, but I barely got hit. I’m not feeling right today, but as you know from my previous one, it will be day to day…the trainer and I are following standard protocol for the concussion. I’ll keep you in the loop, talk to you later.”
Three Weeks Later
He’s still in his dark bedroom, missing classes and practices and his frustration is setting in. He can not shake the splitting headache, fogginess, light sensitivity, fatigue and irritability. His mind is racing continuously, making sleep impossible. We decide it is best to fly out to see him.
We soon discovered our son was only a shadow of his vibrant self. His eyes were hollow and his speech was slurred. With sunglasses on, he walked around continuously cupping his head in his hands. After two weeks of more than one doctor appointment and other therapies, there was no progress. That’s when our 21-year-old son sat us down early one morning and said with tears in his eyes, “I have never said ‘I can’t’ before, but I can’t get better here. Mom and Dad, I need to go home.”
Our Journey Begins
The long flight home was sad, scary and uncomfortable. My husband and I remember hoping and praying that we would see our real son again. We were committed to do everything in our power to help him heal. We were told we’d have to play “the waiting game,” but weren’t going to settle for that.
Once home, we were able to assemble our team of professionals. Although we had been parents of an athlete for nearly a decade, we had no idea these professionals and resources existed until then. Luckily, it all began to fall into place, and it was all about the brain. Every day was dedicated to brain healing and recovery.
A Plan Took Shape
Our plan started immediately with diet and nutrition. We began to focus on foods that feed and nourish the brain: more water, more “clean” food, nothing processed, no toxins and no chemicals. Daily supplements included large amounts of Omega3 fish oil and many other natural brain-directed nutrients. We were also introduced to and utilized SPECT scan imaging to monitor the functional blood flow and activity in the brain. This scan pinpointed which parts of his brain had been damaged from the years of playing football and other sports. The visual of his brain was shocking: the injuries were extensive. This last concussion was clearly not the only “insult” from his past; there had been years of sub-concussed hits.
Another one of the cornerstones of his therapy was Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), better know for compression sickness or the “bends.” HBOT has shown years of wonderful results on traumatic brain injuries in athletes and our veterans. After less than ten sessions in the HBOT chamber, our son started feeling much better. Everyday he had a HBOT session. In addition to nutrition and HBOT, we were properly advised to include chiropractic neurology into his healing and recovery plan.
At first, a 15-minute walk on the beach was too much for our son. But slowly his stamina started to return, and he was able to do light exercise. We dedicated hours everyday to therapies and activities focused on his brain recovery. And, bit by bit, his life began to return!
15 Weeks Later, A Different Call
“What’s up? I’m glad to be back at school. Classes are going well, and I’m feeling better than I’ve felt in years. I think I’m smarter now,” our son laughed on the other end of the phone. We had smiles on our faces; his dad had a tear in his eye. Our son was navigating through life, school, studying and exercising again on his own. But now with a different perspective on life and a new appreciation for his brain.
The Burning Question
As an athlete, coach or parent, you may have heard to simply put the athlete in a dark room, let them get some rest and the symptoms of the concussion will go away. Sometimes they do. But other times the symptoms last and your loved one just doesn’t seem the same.
After our son’s healing process, we had one burning question: why hadn’t anyone in the training room, coaches’ room or doctor’s office ever informed us about the therapies available that actually heal the brain from the effects of sports-related brain injuries?