Concussions and the healthy brain

In the last couple of years, there has been much discussion in the news about concussions and other brain injuries. In fact, the concussion rate in high-school athletics has more than doubled over the past seven years. Some of this upward movement in the numbers reflects increased awareness of the problem, but some is due to the increasing violence of sports at the high-school level (reflecting an earlier increase in violence in professional sports). We cannot let this get into sports at even younger ages!!


And it’s not just football. If you watched any of the World Cup, you know that soccer players are vulnerable to head injuries also!


A concussive injury to the brain produces a “transient” loss of brain function. Most concussions feature and are diagnosed by dizziness, lightheadedness, confusion, headaches, and visual changes. Imaging of the brain at the hospital usually reveals nothing. Younger athletes take longer to recover than older athletes.


Medical treatment for post-concussion symptoms has consisted mainly of opiates for headaches, antidepressants (God forbid!), anti-nauseas, anti-vertigo, stimulants, and other medications to increase neurotransmitter levels. But research has shown that Glycerophosphocholine (GPC) should be looked at as a valuable tool. GPC is a form of choline that has been shown to protect and repair damaged brain cells. It supports the brain’s ability to recover after traumatic brain injuries  and to reduce the symptoms associated with concussion and post-concussion syndrome.


The traumatic forces involved in concussion and in those with post-concussion syndrome have been shown to result in a decrease of glucose use by the brain, and changes in cerebral blood flow. GPC has been used to help prevent damage to brain cells after blood flow (and thus oxygen) has been cut off to brain cells. One study showed that patients who suffered from concussions and cerebral contusions and who were given GPC for a three month period had improved mental faculties and function at a 96% level over those who were not given GPC, but who received “normal” medical treatment.


Research done by Paris Kidd, PhD has shown that Phosphatidyl Serine and Acetylized L-Carnitine also are important for brain health. Together, these three ingredients are truly “brain food,” for treating the injured brain and for maintaining brain health. Designs for Health combined the three ingredients into a formula named Brain Vitale.


If I were a parent or coach of athletes (professionals and younger) who were subject to head injuries I would advise my players to take Brain Vitale as a preventive for brain injury during the season when damaging contact is likely to occur. I also would keep a supply on hand to increase the dosage when and if there is a brain injury such as concussion. Yes, this will cost a few dollars, but what is the cost of a brain injury? (This is the same supplement I recommend for the problems of an aging brain.)


I also would strengthen the rules of sports to eliminate these head injuries without taking away from the sport itself. We have loved our sports for decades without relying on violence to be entertained. If officials enforced rules prohibiting purposeful hits intended to hurt the opponent, this violence would abate. First time, out of the game; second; out for the year; third time—the player is finished and so is the coach!! We are not (at least not yet) the Romans in the Coliseum!!


As an aside to this blog, I have to mention what was discussed on a Dr. Oz show just the other day. He told his audience that they did not need any more Vitamin C than what they could get through a multi-vitamin and their “normal diet.” I am so disappointed by his saying this. It shows a basic misunderstanding of the existing and recent research on vitamins. The definitive text on the need for nutrients was done by Roger Williams, PhD. In the particular discussion on Vitamin C, Dr. Williams noted that to achieve “cell saturation” (or a healthy level of the vitamin) in his test subjects, the amount of the vitamin supplied varied between 250mg and 10,000mg. That’s an enormous disparity!!! And please remember that the amount of the RDA by the government is 60mg!!! This is so inadequate as to be laughable. I recommend at least 1,000mg of supplemental Vitamin C and more if there are any health problems at all. Dr. Oz, I disagree with you entirely!


Give us a call–we need to talk!


Dr. Baldwin works with people by utilizing the modern technique known as “telemedicine,” and he would love to help you. You do not have to come to Delaware! I also can help you as a “Medical Advocate.” What this means is that, if you have questions about health matters, including the interpretation of laboratory testing, you can contact me and we will discuss what your test results mean and help you get good answers to your questions. It seems that today everyone, including doctors, is in a rush and you end up getting the short end of the stick. We can help with that problem. Just give us a call at 410-326-6690.


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