Category Archives: Columns

Finding Some Relief

By Madeline Uretsky

It seems as though every summer for the last 5.5+ years I’ve tried some new treatment, plan, regimen, or whatever you want to call it. Some things have worked, and others have not. I’ve tried everything: natural and unnatural, medical and alternative, traditional and obscure. Except for one procedure that many people in the concussion community have tried. And it worked.

I discovered this procedure after reading posts on concussion/TBI Facebook groups, and talking with some friends who have tried it. For some, it works and changes their lives. For others, it does not, and it’s just another failed treatment. I was hesitant to try it for several reasons; I was nervous about the side effects and recovery time, medically intervening this many years later, and of course, fearing the needles.

With mixed reviews, and reassurance that it would not cause any adverse effects, I was optimistic and excited that it may work for me. I have an incredible trust in my neurosurgeon who has been my guide over the last 5.5+ years, so on June 12th, 2017, I underwent a bilateral greater occipital nerve block.

In simple terms, I had a few needles stuck in the back of my head while I was lying down on an operating room table. I was given Valium beforehand, and the procedure itself took no more than fifteen minutes. I was injected with steroids to help reduce the swelling of the tissue around the inflamed nerves in the back of my head that are partially responsible for my daily headaches.

I did not notice relief right away. I was so exhausted, and so out of it after the procedure that I couldn’t tell what was going on. The back of my head was numb from the anesthetic that I was given, so I had to wait for it to wear off before noticing a difference in pain.

Furthermore, a few days later, I had one of the worst days of pain in years. I was extremely dizzy, nauseous, light sensitive, weak, having alternating hot flashes and chills, and elevated head pain. But the next day, and every day since, my head has been better than ever. My constant daily headaches aren’t completely gone, but they are definitely less painful, and less frequent.

Particularly, in two situations:

  1. Hunger
    • My constant headache and head pressure becomes much worse when I’m hungry.

Since this procedure, my head hurts noticeably less when I become hungry.

  1. Changes in weather
    • When the barometric pressure drops, my constant headache and head pressure becomes much worse.
    • Rain, snow, sun, or more than twenty-degree temperature change in a day causes my symptoms to increase.

Lately, it’s just been the sun, even after several days of rain.

I went for a follow up two weeks later, and my doctor explained how the effects may last anywhere from three to six months, but may last forever. He said that once people break their pain cycle, that sometimes, the pain goes away completely. I’m optimistic, but realistic. My head pain is down a whole point on the checklist/scale, but it’s not at a zero.

He palpated the back of my head on and around the injection sites, and I felt nothing. No pain at all. I was in complete disbelief, but relief. I’ve only known pain for the last 5.5+ years, and now I’m back to some sense of normalcy. Being one of his longest-running patients, my doctor was ecstatic to see me feeling better. I follow up again in six months, and I’m hopeful that this could be the solution. I am so thankful that I tried this procedure, and I am looking forward to seeing how long the effects will last.

For More Information:

  1. Johns Hopkins Medicine

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/nervous_system_disorders/therapeutic_pain_blocks_134,129/

  1. Ohio Health

http://www.medcentral.org/Main/OccipitalNerveBlock.aspx

 

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Yale Hockey Player Writes- Don’t Be a Hero: Second Impact Syndrome and the Risks Athletes Take by Playing Through Their Brain Pain

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Paige Decker

{Editor’s note:  In November of 2013, Paige Decker, a forward on the Yale Women’s Ice Hockey Team, suffered what she believed to be a rather minor concussion. What followed was a battle with a concussion so severe in its symptoms that it would go on to change her life forever.  Recently, Paige began to speak out about her injury and the healing process, which is something we know all too well about: You can’t keep an athlete down for very long- even in the midst of miserable symptoms. Motivation and determination tends to seep into different outlets when we are removed from competition. You can view her blog at www.theinvisibleinjury.net . Paige- keep at it. You WILL get there–Jay}

 

By Paige Decker

If there was one message I want you to take away from my journey, it would be this:

Do NOT play through your concussion symptoms.

This is a hard lesson to learn considering it is the exact opposite of what so many athletes have done their entire careers.  Practice of any sport basically programs a player to push through any form of injury, whether physical or mental.  This is something that is committed to muscle memory; whether it’s an ankle sprain, stress fracture, tendonitis, or pulled groin, you leave the trainer’s room and get back to business.

I was no newcomer to playing through injury.

In high school I played field hockey with a broken jaw, two busted teeth and a split open lip.  I played lacrosse with a broken wrist for three weeks before realizing it was actually broke.  And I’ve played with many of the common injuries I listed above.

These stories aren’t special.  Any competitive athlete can tell his or her own versions.
Injuries are expected and sometimes you just have to suck it up and push through it.

I mistakenly applied this logic to my concussion. Continue reading

The 504 Plan: School Accommodations and Protections for Your Concussed Student Athlete

By Alicia Jensen

After student athletes suffer a concussion, the first thing that pops into their heads is, “When can I play again?” What many might not realize at first is that the effects of concussions are way more than just physical in nature. Concussions mentally and cognitively impair that athlete either along with the physical symptoms or even after they have been cleared to go back on the field.

Many student athletes like me who are diagnosed with Post-Concussion Syndrome may notice some cognitive symptoms as they return back to school. Symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, a short attention span, and the terrible list goes on and on. Continue reading

A Rising Tide Floats All Boats; A Falling Tide Drops Them All On The Rocks

richard-sherman-screams-at-erin-andrews-during-awkward-post-game-interview

We’ve all taken our eyes off the ball

By: Jay Fraga

While the sports world stands trivially transfixed with Richard Sherman’s NFC Championship post-game interview, lawyers on both sides of the recently-denied-for-preliminary-approval NFL Concussion Settlement scurry around in relative obscurity. With the sheer outrage mustered toward Sherman’s antics, one would think that America’s Game is being threatened. Once again, we’re proving as a nation that we are easily distracted.

America’s Game IS being threatened- but it’s not being threatened by Richard Sherman’s interview decorum. America’s Game is being threatened by a sub-par settlement, chiseled out by the bean counters and face savers at the NFL as well as a handful of plaintiff attorneys, who will take a sizeable sum of the bounty for their own coffers rather than forward it to deserving players. Worse yet, the settlement is based on troublesome language that calls to question just which players might qualify for medical benefits under it (for more detail on that, Patrick Hruby’s January 14th article is good reading). Continue reading

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