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Brain Injury Awareness Month

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month and most brain injuries fall into 1 of 2 categories:

  • Traumatic brain injury which involves physical trauma due to accidents, neurosurgery etc.
  • Non-traumatic brain injury from an internal or external source such as stroke, brain tumour, infection, substance abuse etc.

The team at Apple Creek takes a special interest in one of the most common brain injuries, concussions.  A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that usually occurs when the head is hit with a moving object.  However, anything that causes the brain to move significantly in the skull can cause a concussion.  For example a hard fall on the bum can travel up and lead to a concussion.  Concussions have always been a common injury in the sports world but they have been getting a lot more attention recently as people really come to terms with the negative impact they can have.

Typical Signs and Symptoms

  • Headache
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Seeing flashing lights
  • Confusion, feeling spacey or not thinking straight.
  • Changes in balance and coordination
  • Fatigue

 

For most people, the symptoms are temporary and they can return to daily functioning soon after the injury.  For other people the effects last longer requiring treatment, and some people (especially in the sporting world) go back to play too soon and can receive a subsequent concussion leading to more prolonged symptoms.

 

Here at Apple Creek, we provide a full and comprehensive treatment plan for anyone who has suffered from a concussion, whether from a sporting injury, a fall, a motor vehicle accident etc.  Athletic Therapists or Chiropractors can provide the initial assessment and treatment including impact testing.  We also offer baseline impact testing for many sports teams in the area. 

Naturopathic Medicine can also benefit the concussed individual, mainly through the addition of supplements, homeopathics and acupuncture.  Basically a concussion can be treated similar to any other injury in the body and we help to decrease inflammation in the brain the same way you would in the rest of the body.  NDs can also help with the persistent symptoms such as headaches, lack of concentration, and pain etc.  This can be done with the homeopathic head trauma protocol, which focuses on reducing inflammation as well as specific symptoms, diet modification and acupuncture to help rebalance the system. 

 

It is extremely important to rest after a concussion or other brain injury and to see your doctor and other health care providers if symptoms persist.  People who have had a severe concussion are at an increased risk of developing a seizure disorder such as epilepsy, and if there have had multiple brain injuries there can be long lasting or progressive cognitive impairment that limits activities of daily living. 

 

A few words of wisdom:  if you play a high risk sport (such as football, hockey, rugby etc) then it might be a good idea to have a baseline impact test so if there is a concussion it can be compared to the baseline results.  The time it takes to recover from a concussion is variable so do not return to sports or other activities until the signs and symptoms have dissipated.  Do not be afraid to contact your health care provider and feel free to call us at 905-475-0484 to get more details.

 

In Health,

Dr. Joanne, ND

 

 

 

Arthritis Awareness

Arthritis by definition means inflammation of the joints and for the most part is divided into Autoimmune arthritis’ (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis), septic arthritis due to an infection and osteoarthritis (OA).

OA, the most common form of arthritis, is related to aging and the long-term wear and tear on the joints that is seen.  Previous injury or other trauma can also impact the severity that OA is experienced by an individual.  Unlike the other forms of arthritis, OA is not primarily an inflammatory condition (although there is usually some underlying chronic inflammation present) and has to do more with the loss of the cartilage surrounding the joints.  Symptoms can vary greatly from some mild stiffness in the morning to tenderness or severe pain and loss of function or locking of the joint, as well as increased fluid around the joint (an effusion).  As the disease progresses, bony calluses can form at the joints leading to more restrictions and pain.

Conventional treatment usually lies in pain management through analgesics.  Acetaminophen is your typical first line therapy followed by NSAIDS if the pain relief is not good enough.  Weight loss and exercise are also recommended and if the symptoms keep on progressing then a joint replacement surgery might be recommended.

There is so much that can be done from a Naturopathic medicine standpoint, including pain management, reducing inflammation in the body, strengthening current cartilage and preventing its further destruction and overall providing a healthy lifestyle modifications.

These can include:

  • Acupuncture to help with pain management
  • Exercise prescription
  • Manual therapy
  • Bracing
  • Hydrotherapy and Castor Oil packs
  • Nutritional and supplemental interventions
    • Many people who increase the good omega-3s in their diets and decrease the omega-6s and trans fats have decreased pain and stiffness
    • Glucosamine and Chondroitin can help prevent further degeneration of the cartilage, decreasing the progression of the disease.
  • Herbal Remedies
    • There are some wonderful herbal remedies that have powerful anti-inflammatory and/or pain relieving effects, and you might even find some in your kitchen!

Another great intervention is Yoga, which helps to increase strength and flexibility, and has been shown to decrease stiffness and pain.  There are yoga classes out there for people with different forms of arthritis, or if you talk to your yoga instructor before class they can let you know which poses are safe and which should be avoided.

For more information or to see how Naturopathic Medicine can help with your arthritis symptoms please contact Dr. Joanne, ND.

Protect Yourself From the Heat

During extreme heat events conditions of high temperature and humidity are present, which can increase your body temperature, especially during physical activity. Hot air and exposure to direct sunlight or hot surfaces can also heat your body. This heat is lost by contact with cool air and by sweat productions, which cools your body as it evaporates. Weather conditions play a big role in how your body regulates its temperature; in windy conditions sweat evaporates faster, which helps to cool you. Conversely, high humidity slows down this process, leading to increased body temperature.

The extreme heat can put everyone at risk from heat illnesses, however, those most at risk are:

  • Older adults/infants and small children
  • People with chronic illnesses, such as breathing difficulties, mental illness or heart conditions
  • People working in the heat
  • People exercising in the heat

Heat illnesses can lead to long-term health problems and even death. These illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, fainting, edema (swelling of the hands, feet, and ankles), heat rash and heat cramps and are mainly caused by over-exposure to heat or over-exertion for a person’s physical condition in combination with dehydration.

Heat illnesses are preventable! During very hot weather, the most important thing is to keep cool and stay hydrated. Following these 5 steps to protect yourself in very hot weather.

  1. Prepare for the heat- make sure that your air conditioner is working and that you are not out for prolonged periods of time by yourself in heat, there will be nobody to notice the signs and symptoms of heat illness.
  2. Pay attention to how you, and those around you, feel– watch for signs and symptoms of heat illness, which include:
    1. Dizziness or fainting
    2. Nausea or vomiting
    3. Headache
    4. Rapid breathing or heartbeat
    5. Extreme thirst
    6. Decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine

If you experience any of these symptoms, immediately move to a cool area and drink lots of liquids- water is best!

  1. Stay hydrated- drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water, before you feel thirsty to decrease your risk of dehydration.
  2. Keep cool- dress for the weather and make sure that your home, car and office are kept  cool
  3. Avoid exposure to very hot temperature when outdoors- Never leave people or pets inside a parked vehicle; reschedule or plan your outdoor exercise/activities during cooler parts of the day;  avoid sun exposure by staying in the shade, wearing a wide brimmed hat, or sitting under an umbrella.

Benefits of Exercise!

Do you want to feel better, boost your energy levels, and even decrease your risk of chronic disease? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then regular exercise may be just what you need and Apple Creek is here to help!

There are endless benefits that we can get from regular exercise, regardless of age, sex, and baseline fitness level. Here are just 8 ways that exercise can benefit you:

1. Improve your mood- Physical activity stimulates the release of brain chemicals, such as endorphins, which will make you feel happier and more relaxed after working out.

2. Combat chronic disease- Regular exercise can also help you to prevent, or manage, high blood pressure. It can also help to control your cholesterol by booting your “good” cholesterol (HDL) while decreasing the “bad” cholesterol (LDL). Lowered blood pressure in combination with decreased bad cholesterol keeps your blood flowing smoothly by lowering the buildup of plaques in your arteries. Regular physical activity has also been proven to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer.

3. Promote better sleep habits- Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep, which in turn will leave you feeling more rested, productive and in a better mood the next day.

4. Boost energy levels- Regular Physical activity helps to make your cardiovascular system more efficient as well as the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. When your heart and lungs and muscles work more efficiently, you’ll have more energy to do the things you enjoy.

5. Manage weight- When you exercise you burn more calories, both during and following your work out, you increase your metabolic rate, and you decrease your percent body fat while increase your lean body mass. This will leave you feeling and looking better!

6. Decrease risk of osteoporosis- Regular exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise and strength training, reduces the risk of osteoporosis, and can even reverse it buy building bone tissue.

7. Enhance coordination and balance.

 8. Fun- Exercise doesn’t need to be an individual activity; it can be a great way to spend quality time with family and friends! Go for a hike, a bike ride, a round of golf or try something new and exciting…like one of our fitness classes.

Apple Creek offers both one on one personal training and group fitness classes to help you reach your fitness goals. Please check out the performance lab section on our website or contact the clinic for details as to how we can best help you!