Check Up from the Neck Up
Insights and perspectives on injury prevention, rehabilitation, health and fitness
85% of all concussions and sub-concussive blows happen from violent rotary acceleration to the head. An athlete must decelerate these violent rotary blows before the limit of range of motion is reached and dead stop occurs. When this dead stop happens the brain is rattled around in skull causing damage. Dr. Allen Hovda, Director of the Brain Injury Research Center at UCLA simplifies what is happening in the brain during violent impact. Basically nerve cells are stretched or twisted letting potassium escape which intern depolarizes the cell allowing energy inhibiting calcium to invade shutting it down. The cells surrounding the damaged cells begin to shut down and amnesia, confusion and a loss of consciousness can result.
Now here is an important part which all athletes and strength coaches will really get – the brain then starts using up massive amount of blood sugar which results in the over production of lactic acid which inhibits brain function just like it inhibits muscle function. Blood flow decreases to the brain by 50% just when the brain needs more blood to heal. Normal blood flow will not resume for 10 days. It takes days for the damaged cells and the brain as a whole to restore that chemical balance that was lost so quickly. Until the balance is restored the brain doesn’t work as well and is particularly vulnerable to re-injury.When an athlete realizes what is going on in the brain when a concussion or sub-concussive blow happens it will inspire him to focus on training the neck – creating a force dissipating cylinder that can protect his/her brain from these damaging blows.
The really scary part of all this to me is that sub-concussive blows go unnoticed for the most part and players continue to play when the above damage has occurred. In light of the results from the new Colorado study by which proves that for every one pound of muscle strength added to the neck we have a 5% less likely chance of getting a concussion I must shout “TRAIN THE NECK!!!”