Osteopathy is a holistic approach that focuses on the whole body objectively in assessment and treatment and can be very effective in alleviating concussion symptoms. Understanding all parts of the body and its interconnections with all body systems; and how they work together to function optimally. Osteopathy is a great addition to your treatment plan for your individual journey in supporting the body’s overall healing and aiding recovery from the effects of a concussion. Osteopathic treatment is very gentle and focuses on increasing mobility, reducing tension, increasing fluid flow and nerve connection, and reducing inflammation and pain. The osteopathic manual practitioner will listen and understand how the concussion occurred and assess the effects it had on the rest of the body.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury in which a bump to the head, blow to the head, or sudden extreme movement or jolt to the head or body occurs, that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth in the cranium. There are different degrees of concussions which require different medical attention based on the severity. Concussion symptoms are usually temporary but long-term effects may linger depending on the individual and severity. Symptoms may include but are not limited to headache, nausea, mood change/ irritability, sleep disturbances, difficulty with concentration, memory, balance, and coordination, vision changes, ringing in the ears and some may lose consciousness.
Benefits of Osteopathy for Concussion Recovery:
Osteopathic treatment is very beneficial for healing from a concussion for many reasons. The body is a dynamic unit of function in which everything is connected, therefore it will be important to look at all structures not just the head or site of any injury. The osteopathic manual practitioner will assess and treat the entire body understanding the mechanism of injury; how the patient got the concussion, was there any other injuries associated, what side effects did you have and what side effects do you still have. Listed below are a few ways Osteopathy can help:
- Symptom Relief: Headaches and neck/ back pain are the most common physical symptoms associated with concussions. Through gentle manipulations, an osteopathic manual practitioner can reduce muscle tension, increase mobility, and promote a self-healing process to reduce pain and discomfort.
- Improved Blood Flow and Healing: Osteopathic techniques and principles aim to enhance blood and lymphatic circulation, which can facilitate the healing process after a concussion. Improved blood flow can bring essential nutrients and oxygen to the injured areas, promoting tissue repair. It can also assist in reducing fluid built up in the cranium – promoting drainage throughout the body.
- Restoring Body Balance: A concussion can disrupt the body’s equilibrium, leading to issues with vision, coordination, and balance. Osteopathic treatment can help restore balance by working closely with the vestibular system and addressing any misalignments and imbalances in any body’s systems. Reducing tensions and improving mobility will promote appropriate fluid flow and nerve connection to assist with balance and vision.
- Reducing Inflammation: Inflammation is a natural response to injury, but excessive inflammation can hinder recovery. Osteopathic treatment may help reduce inflammation, easing the recovery process by improving blood flow, lymphatic drainage, and nerve connection so the body is able to self-heal and self-regulate. Reduction in inflammation will assist with symptoms associated with a concussion such as ringing in the ears, headaches, dizziness, and disturbance of concentration and balance.
- Enhancing Nervous System Function: Osteopathic manipulation can positively influence the nervous system, leading to better nerve function and overall neurological health. Working closely with the nervous system to reduce sympathetic tone and increase parasympathetic where appropriate. This can be particularly beneficial for those with concussions, as the brain’s communication with the rest of the body is vital for healing. Enhancing the nervous system function will have a direct impact quality of sleep which is essential for optimal healing.
The patient came in with a diagnosed concussion from their medical physician. The patient was playing hockey and was body-checked hard into the boards where they lost balance, fell backward, and hit their head on the ice. The patient reported feeling dizzy. nauseous and confused after the fall and experienced a headache for several days following. The patient is 3 weeks post-concussion and still experiencing frequent headaches, neck and back pain, slight sensitivity to light, difficulty concentrating, and disturbances in their sleep.
Through assessment and treatment osteopathically the whole body was looked at for any asymmetries, motion restrictions, tissue texture changes, and sensorial changes. There was notable hip motion restriction and pelvis rotation, as well as a change to respiratory diaphragmatic breathing. The thoracic spine presented with a preference for flexion as well as compression along the right side influencing soft tissues such as the trapezius muscle, latissimus dorsi muscle, rhomboids, and intercostal muscles. Muscle compression through the right anterior oblique muscles including the right pectoralis major muscle to the left psoas muscle was also present.
Right-side cervical tissues were compressed on the right side and tension on the left side including scalenes, upper trapezius muscle, and sternocleidomastoid muscle. The suboccipital muscles were compressed on the left side and tension on the right side with global fascial tension of the cervicals and cranium. The cranium and lower cervical tissues were palpated and noted to feel boggy as fluid is likely built up. Restriction in these tissues leads to obstruction of blood flow, nerve connection, and lymphatic drainage in these regions leading to changes of function of the body.
** Disclaimer: These findings are not a medical diagnosis but osteopathic structural findings that the patient presented with that day.
The patient was treated using Osteopathic Principles to reduce tension and promote mobility and alignment to increase blood flow, lymphatic flow, and nerve connection. The goal of treatment was to coordinate the transitional zones of the pelvis and sacrum, lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine and the compensational patterns that were present and reduce tension amongst the soft tissue.
Cranial-sacral principles were utilized to balance all membranes and assist with the goals of treatment. This is important to provide an optimal environment for the body to self-heal and self-regulate and allow specific nerves to regenerate, soft tissues, and diaphragms to relax and assist in the drainage of fluid and balance pressures within the body. This is beneficial with the recovery of concussion symptoms and working through the impact the fall had on the body as a whole – from the pelvis, lower back, upper back, neck, and head.
The patient objectively had more mobility, presented better posture and symptoms had decreased after three follow-up treatments. They reported subjectively feeling lighter, more relaxed, with less pressure in the head, and less stiff. The patient continued their individualized osteopathic treatment plan and currently does not experience daily symptoms. The patient will continue a maintenance treatment plan to support their activity level, promote overall health and wellness, and prevent injury from occurring.
If you have been suffering from post-concussion symptoms and wondering if Osteopathic treatment is for you, be sure to book your free 15-minute consultation call or an Initial Osteopath Appointment with one of our osteopathic manual practitioners Jenna Labranche or Patrick Suwala.
Meet our Osteopathic Practitioners
Patrick Suwala graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo in 2015 and then committed to an additional four years of osteopathic education at the Canadian Academy of Osteopathy in Hamilton and graduated with a Master in Practice of Osteopathic Manipulative Sciences designation (M. OMSc.) from the school at the end of 2020.
Throughout his undergrad at the University of Waterloo, Patrick found his passion in learning the anatomy and physiology of the human body, and for four years he was a volunteer teaching assistant in the human cadaver labs on campus, teaching first year students and many external visitors, including graduate-level manual therapy students about the musculoskeletal structures of the human body.
Patrick quickly grew an appreciation for the art and science of the field of manual therapy through extracurriculars like swimming and playing waterpolo competitively, and decided that this was the right avenue for him to pursue.
Patrick also helps supervise student clinic and teach at the Canadian Academy of Osteopathy in Hamilton.
Patrick belongs to the Ontario Osteopathic Association (OOA/OSTCAN) and is therefore recognized across all insurance providers in Ontario because of the association’s high standards.
Jenna has a love for sports, fitness, and being outdoors. She has been involved in sports since a young age including being a Competitive Dancer and Rep Softball player. After ongoing injuries and pain with no relief she was then introduced to Osteopathy which changed everything. Her experiences led her into expanding her knowledge of the human body to become an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner.
Serving the town of Milton since 2022, Jenna looks forward to bringing her skills to our team at Zen. Providing a holistic approach using the principles of Osteopathy, manipulation is applied gently to facilitate the body’s ability to self-heal and self-regulate. Through an individualized treatment and the understanding that the body is a dynamic unit of function, Jenna works with the interrelated systems of the body to bring health to the structures for optimal function. Investigating on the ‘why’ there is dysfunction and discover the root cause of the problem.
Combining her love and passion of the human body, being active, and helping others makes being an osteopathic manual practitioner both enjoyable and rewarding. Through extensive knowledge, empathy and understanding, her goal is to get you back to your daily activities and doing what you love!