Dr. Battershill Speaks to Sufferers of Traumatic Brain Injury in Canada
My name is John Battershill, a Chiropractor and formerly a Canadian Football League (CFL) Linebacker having played seven total seasons, six with the Calgary Stampeders and one with the Toronto Argonauts during the late 70’s and early 80’s.
While playing professional football I sustained five concussions, three of which were serious enough for me to lose consciousness. In life outside of sports, I had two other very serious Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI’s), one in a workplace accident and another in a motor vehicle accident for a grand total of seven severe concussions throughout my lifetime.
In addition to these serious concussions, I estimate that I have sustained at least 100 minor concussions and around 1000 neck whiplash injuries from football.
Helping Your Brain
Like Ken Evaire, another CFL alumni player, I was also invited to donate my brain to the Toronto Western Hospital’s brain bank. Seeing his article in Global News not too long ago stirred up something that I am passionate about – treating concussion patients – which brings me to the whole point of my letter.
I want to let Canadians know that injured brains can be helped! We don’t need to wait anxiously for symptoms to worsen and our quality of life can be improved. Our children and spouses also don’t need to wait in fear with the only hope for answers to be donating our brains after death.
My athletic past and football injuries led me to taking up Chiropractic College in Toronto. Since then, I have been practicing for 28 years in Calgary, a time during which many patients have been concerned about their brain function after car accidents, work place accidents and sports injuries to name a few. I wanted to help more than I could, so I pursued post-graduation studies in Functional Neurology.
Canadians know NHL superstar Sidney Crosby suffered a concussion during a hockey game in the 2010 – 2011 season. He did nothing but rest for 210 days. Despite that long rest, his concussion migraine complex of symptoms returned when he started riding a stationary bike.
Most Canadians do not know that he visited Dr. Frederic Carrick, a professor of Neurology and practicing Functional Neurologist Chiropractor in Marietta, Georgia.
Mr. Crosby was back on the ice in 35 days after beginning treatment with Dr. Carrick. It was not a miracle that restored a national hero or our system of health care; it was Functional Neurology. Implementing a treatment protocol of strictly rest is useless after 7-10 days.
Another example of a common brain injury stems from Canada’s recent fentanyl epidemic. A man in his early 30’s came into my office with significant cognitive decline and many other physical signs of traumatic brain injury such as:
- slurred speech
- imbalance while standing and walking
- slowed processing time to simple questions and conversations
This man had unfortunately overdosed on fentanyl when his drink was spiked at a party and he unknowingly drank it.
His functional neurological exam revealed several areas of neuron injury despite brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) that showed no injury! Since coming in, he has progressed well at activating the injured neuron pools through specific sensory nerve stimulation techniques and exercises that re-stimulate an injured neuron to fire, transmit and function properly.
Proactive treatment specifically targeted at the area of the brain that is injured can restore damaged neurons but not the ones that are dead. Studies show that neurons recruit other neurons – or neighbouring neurons if you will – to help rewire the brain and restore nerve transmission to certain areas.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a brain injury often found by post-mortem dissection (or autopsy). Simply stated, CTE is a weakening of the myelin sheath (fatty covering around the nerve axon) and nerve axonal structure which causes the myelin to retract into a tangled mess. This is called a “Tau deposit”. This permanently disrupts our overall health because nerve transmission is the communication vehicle from the brain to all tissues of the body including muscles, ligaments, organs and tissues – and in fact, every cell.
The effects of head trauma are easily explained if one realizes that the consistency of living brain tissue is that of pudding. This means injuries to neurons abound on a microscopic level when any trauma occurs to the head or body, causing the pudding-like brain to slosh back and forth inside the skull. This happens with mechanical traumas such as:
- Football tackling
- Soccer headers
- Hitting the boards in hockey
- Motor vehicle accidents
which also initiates the chemical reaction of a Traumatic Brain Injury, another crucial element to understand as well. Other variables affecting Traumatic Brain Injuries are:
- chemical exposure
- adverse drug reactions
- lifestyle choices
- food and drink
- total concussion load from multiple minor incidents
These are just a few other factors that could prolong a person’s brain trauma and prevent them from recovering 95 to 100 percent of their original function.
Apples to Oranges
In response to Global News article, I would have to say that it is somewhat fatalistic. It seems that readers find Mr. Evaire worried and waiting for the worse.
When I was playing, it seemed that my CFL team’s medical care was very co-dependent, where players were not encouraged to help themselves apart from the club’s own medical services.
In the general population, defaulting to the “old age” card when we begin to experience confusion or loss of memory makes the MD the guru who is responsible for extending our quality of life when in fact we are all responsible for our own health.
Healthcare and disease care is like comparing apples to oranges.
Recovery Becomes Our Choice
As a practicing Doctor of Chiropractic who has treated hundreds of concussions and Traumatic Brain Injury patients, I tell you that people with TBI’s can be helped to re-attain a much better quality of physical, mental and social life and maintain their health through preventative healthcare.
No one is a victim but people do perish for lack of knowledge and awareness.
We can choose proactive steps that prevent neurological decline resulting from concussion damage that one day could be labelled as ‘dementia’. There is sufficient information about Chiropractic and Functional Neurology, even without Sydney Crosby’s recovery, showing that its efficacy is beyond question.
New diagnostic imaging – not mainstream in Canada, but studied in scientific literature such as PET and SPECT scans – identifies and proves without a doubt the efficacy of spinal adjustments from Chiropractic treatments in activating neuron transmission to and from damaged areas of the brain.
My Concussion Experience
Why do I not have any pre-dementia symptoms at the age of 60? Because of the preventative maintenance of the spinal adjustments I have had since entering Chiropractic school 33 years ago. My fentanyl overdose patient’s recovery and Mr. Crosby’s recovery speak of the knowledge we now have to repair and rewire damaged brains in the living person.
The drive of most athletes to find their identity in performance and on the scoreboard has one catch; it’s called time. Playing sports at all levels, especially in professional leagues, causes massive amounts of stress on our bodies over extended periods of time.
Many refer to the shining time of their athletic careers as the “glory days”, but those days do not look so glorious when things such as:
- cognitive decline
- degenerative osteoarthritis
- generalized loss of function
- lack of executive and organizational brain function
…begin to take hold of our physical and mental well being. These originate from the brains neurons losing the ability to control the function of every cell tissue, organ and system of the body, leaving people unable to care for themselves.
When there is a body problem, there is also a nerve compression or a brain injury problem associated with it. I am here to sound the alarm… we are not victims and we have a choice to choose life and live abundantly.
As Mark Twain stated, “it’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, but what you know for sure that just ain’t so”.
– Dr. John Battershill, D.C.
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