Did you know that scientists really enjoy reviewing literature? Okay, so its not poetry or love stories, but scientists at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute reviewed medical literature regarding pediatric concussions to find a link with children’s future mental health. With the growing number of children with mental health diagnoses, researchers have embarked on a quest for root causes of the epidemic. This group reviewed 69 articles covering almost 90,000 children across nine countries and found high percentages of children experienced various mental health problems post concussions.
Why do researchers read 69 articles instead of poetry? Most of the time in medicine, the sought after answer requires a good number of test subjects and a variety of methods evaluating the problem. Rarely does one study include 90,000 test subjects and any group of researchers can only evaluate a given problem from a few angles. By reviewing the literature, or results of other studies, this group could use the work of others, combining it into their own conclusions. One has to take care to probably combine different data from different studies into a single conclusion, but done carefully, it bears frequent fruit.
In this case, they found that over 1 in 3 had documented internalizing symptoms such as anxiety, depression, withdrawing, and post-traumatic stress. They also found that about 1 in 5 exhibited externalizing symptoms like attention issues, hyperactivity, and aggressive behavior. Children with presence of mental health diagnoses before the injury developed further diagnoses at a slightly higher rate. Some of these symptoms lasted for years, even including lower IQ scores.
With 1 in 3 children having a head injury before their teen years and children taking longer to recover than adults with head injury, this stands out as a significant public and personal health problem.
In functional medicine, we go beyond the awareness and counseling programs mentioned by this article. Such awareness is important, but we offer patients a number of brain recovery options which augment the brain’s own ability to heal the inflammation caused by the concussion. While scientists continue to further delve into the mechanisms of prolonged symptoms, we in functional medicine know that certain metabolic processes can be modulated to help symptoms.
Lowering inflammation from toxins, infections, and inflammatory foods serves as the foundation. Educating on proper sleep patterns adds another layer. Providing health fats like omega 3’s and phospholipids offers building blocks to the nerve cells. Adding natural anti-inflammatories like curcumin or other NrF2 inhibitors turn down inflammation, close the blood brain barrier, and encourage long term healing.
Altogether, we can help kids and adults with knocks to the head which bruised their brains without leaving them to face the odds of post-concussion mental health diagnoses down the road without help. Functional medicine offers a healthier more abundant life post-concussion even while encouraging proper prevention of head injuries where possible.
Alice Gornall, Michael Takagi, Thilanka Morawakage, Xiaomin Liu, Vicki Anderson. Mental health after paediatric concussion: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2021; bjsports-2020-103548 DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2020-103548
Thanks to Science Daily:
Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. “A third of kids develop a mental health problem after concussion.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210429142621.htm>.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.