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  1. #1
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    Sauna for concussion/TBI recovery?

    Yeah, there's other concussion threads, but they're all really old and I have a specific question not previously addressed.

    I'm 73 days out from a pretty serious concussion (helmet destroyed, no loss of consciousness per witnesses but no memory from 2 hours before to 4 hours after, slept 16+ hours per day for 5 days). Recovery started out really well, but has been complicated by a couple of unfortunate "incidents" that I can detail later if anyone cares. In the grand scheme of PCS I'm still doing quite well, but it's become clear that it's going to be a long time before I can ski or ride bikes at the level I'm otherwise physically capable of.

    So, as the title says, would regular sauna use be good for healing my brain? Dr. Google didn't turn up much. I did find some studies that concluded that hyperthermia during or shortly after a concussion is likely to make things worse, but nothing about patients who are months out from the initial injury. In healthy subjects sauna use has been consistently shown to stimulate production of BDNF and otherwise have a host of health-promoting effects, so it seems plausible to probable that it's good for TBI recovery. But, I'm also quite leery of doing anything that could set me back.

    I've basically written off skiing for this year. I've gotten out with my kid a few times from 2 pm-close just so he gets some time on skis this year. Skiing like a perpetual intermediate is about as satisfying as an over-the-pants handjob, so the juice isn't worth the squeeze otherwise. The rational part of my brain has also come to the painful realization that I probably shouldn't mountain bike this summer either, and even trail running seems like it might be problematic (constant bouncing, especially on the descents). So basically anything that brings me true joy and happiness is off-limits for the foreseeable future, which is less than ideal for my mental health. I'm trying to stay positive and keep my focus on what I can do. Joining the local Vasa for $10/mo and chilling in the sauna a few days per week sounds like a nice distraction, assuming it won't be detrimental.

  2. #2
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    there isn't really any evidenced based data for or against the use of sauna in Postconcusion syndrome. Generally speaking, they focus on managing your specific symptoms, and the sequel can be quite broad. Essentially, if it makes you feel better / doesn't make things worse, carry on.

    as for your long term action sports prognosis.. is it your current symptoms that are preventing you from realizing your potential, or is it the potential risk of further injury and some type of chronic encephalopathy thats holding you back?
    "Its not the arrow, its the Indian" - M.Pinto

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dantheman View Post
    I've basically written off skiing for this year. I've gotten out with my kid a few times from 2 pm-close just so he gets some time on skis this year. Skiing like a perpetual intermediate is about as satisfying as an over-the-pants handjob, so the juice isn't worth the squeeze otherwise. The rational part of my brain has also come to the painful realization that I probably shouldn't mountain bike this summer either, and even trail running seems like it might be problematic (constant bouncing, especially on the descents). .
    Holy shit! Sorry to hear this.

    So what makes you want to hold off, is it just wanting to avoid another fall of any kind or you still have symptoms?

    If you were in the NFL, they'd bench you for just a week. Or maybe 1 play, really. But those guys are idiots.

  4. #4
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    Sauna for concussion/TBI recovery?

    This sucks to read and I donít have any advice other than the suggestion that you should consider trying intermediate-style skiing again, if it can be done without aggravating the symptoms. (Edit- blah blah blah) +++ vibes+++
    Last edited by Self Jupiter; 01-07-2020 at 04:03 PM.

  5. #5
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    sorry to hear this and i wish you luck in your recovery.

    one of the reasons that i learned to tele (mid-90s) was to slow myself down.

    to keep myself entertained when skiing with my littles on green and blue runs, i started trying to learn some ski ballet moves (mainly learned via watching glen plake videos). and I did it on tele skis. a new challenge to entertain myself....

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by bodywhomper View Post
    i started trying to learn some ski ballet moves (mainly learned via watching glen plake videos). and I did it on tele skis..
    if he gets another concussion from trying some ballet move, he may die of embarrassment.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by muted View Post
    Holy shit! Sorry to hear this.

    So what makes you want to hold off, is it just wanting to avoid another fall of any kind or you still have symptoms?

    If you were in the NFL, they'd bench you for just a week. Or maybe 1 play, really. But those guys are idiots.
    Yeah, concussion protocol in major pro sports is a joke, IMVHO.

    Exactly three weeks out I was feeling great, though I knew I was quite fragile. I bought the kiddo a trampoline and was assembling it while he and his cousin played soccer in the yard. He shanked a kick straight into the back of my head. I felt hungover for the better part of two days and it took a week to feel fully recovered. Two weeks after taking the soccer ball to the head I was desperate to do something outside so I hiked Cherry Canyon to the second overlook (about 2k vert), which seemed like a safe thing to do. Going up felt glorious, but by the time I was halfway down I knew it was a bad decision. Going down I could feel every step deep in my brain. Hungover for two days and a full week back to baseline again.

    Fast forward a few more weeks and I'm now 7 weeks out and feeling good, when I made the very, very stupid (in retrospect) decision to go to the Woodward PC grand opening (just to spectate), which was basically like going to a concert for 2 hours. I felt fine while I was there, but by that evening I was a mess. I spent most of the next day in bed, felt waaay hungover for two more days, and I may still not be fully recovered.

    The first two times skiing were OK as it was super soft everywhere. Sunday, however, was dust-on-crust and no matter how slow and super smoove I skied I could feel my brain being jostled. In the flat light and dumpage I hit a couple hard little ruts that would normally be nothing but clearly felt nebulously "wrong." I felt mildly hungover yesterday and was ready for bed at 8:30. Pretty OK today but not 100% if I'm honest with myself.

    So to summarize, my recovery has suffered some serious setbacks and it doesn't take much to rattle myself into PCS symptoms. Thankfully no really bad stuff like headaches, vertigo, etc., mostly just crushing tiredness. My cold tolerance also goes completely to shit (prior to the injury I'd been taking cold showers for the better part of two years...). If two hours of very conservative skiing flares up my symptoms, how would I feel after skiing even moderately hard, or doing a long chunky descent on the bike, or running downhill for 3,000 vert? Doing any of those things currently seems laughably stupid. Crashing and taking a legit shot to my head is terrifying. Who knows how I'll be 3/6/12 months from now, but eliminating that risk until I'm a minimum of 12 months out seems like the safe play.

    On top of this, AC is having a TKR in 15 days. I have to be 100% healthy for the next 6+ months, full stop.
    Last edited by Dantheman; 01-13-2020 at 02:41 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by muted View Post
    if he gets another concussion from trying some ballet move, he may die of embarrassment.
    I'll start knitting hats before I learn ski ballet


  9. #9
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    Jeezus, Dan.

    Sorry to read of your trouble... it sounds challenging. What a sobering reminder of our fragility. Thank you for the story.

    Vibes and good luck in your recovery... I don't have anything constructive but wish you well.

    Good luck to AltaChic with the TKR, too!
    life ain't guaranteed, love your people while you can

  10. #10
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    Thanks, it's appreciated. Feels good to write all that down as well. AC is in good hands (Rosenberg Cooley Metcalf biocarpentry clinic). Things are going to suck for her in the short-term but hopefully in 6-12 months she'll be much, much better than the constant pain she's in now.

  11. #11
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    As a fellow multiple bad concussion patient I feel your pain.
    My last one was 4/17/2018 and I wasn't cleared til late September to do anything physical due to similar issues. Though I had other symptoms such as migraines from sunlight, memory problems and some other stuff (full PCS range).
    I asked my doctor a million questions about what I can do to help and mostly got the answers of "rest, rest and more rest".
    Spending a few hours when you can in a dark room with no stimuli went a long way for me. Pretend to meditate or actually do if you can but just get quiet rest and let your brain rewire itself. PCS sucks and we don't really know how to heal it.

    Really curious about this sauna theory you have as far as being helpful.
    Hope you heal up.

    PSA wear yer fuckin helmets.

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    Biocarpentry, lol.
    life ain't guaranteed, love your people while you can

  13. #13
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    Positive news that you dont seem to have any continuous symptoms. If you are not all connect with a rehab team, you should look into whats available in your area. The newer school of thought on post concussion rehab involves things like vestibular and visual training as well as spine and cardiovascular health (vs the oldschool theory of rest and antidepressants) ... and by the sounds of your symptoms and what precipitates them, this could be a huge benefit to you.

    eliciting symptoms like dizzyness and that hung over fatigue you describe are generally not signs that you are making your head injury worse, rather eliciting these symptoms can be a positive thing, as it allows your brain / body to re-train its self to overcome them more easily in the future.... you most certainly want to avoid hits to the head/ trauma. but dont stop perusing activity.

    Vibes.
    "Its not the arrow, its the Indian" - M.Pinto

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by pyromaniacman129 View Post
    I asked my doctor a million questions about what I can do to help and mostly got the answers of "rest, rest and more rest".
    Spending a few hours when you can in a dark room with no stimuli went a long way for me. Pretend to meditate or actually do if you can but just get quiet rest and let your brain rewire itself. PCS sucks and we don't really know how to heal it.
    From what I've read after the first 7-10 days the latest clinical recommendations are no longer "rest, rest and more rest" but rather slow, deliberate, progressive return to activity similar to PT you would do for most other bodily injuries. I get your point though. We meditate nightly for about 20 minutes in bed before we go to sleep. Chillaxing in the sauna would also check this box.

    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    Biocarpentry, lol.
    A friend of ours spent a few years as an engineer for a company that makes joint replacement implants. As part of the job he had to observe a bunch of surgeries and says it's carpentry 100%, just with bones and blood.

    Quote Originally Posted by cmcrawfo View Post
    Positive news that you dont seem to have any continuous symptoms. If you are not all connect with a rehab team, you should look into whats available in your area. The newer school of thought on post concussion rehab involves things like vestibular and visual training as well as spine and cardiovascular health (vs the oldschool theory of rest and antidepressants) ... and by the sounds of your symptoms and what precipitates them, this could be a huge benefit to you.

    eliciting symptoms like dizzyness and that hung over fatigue you describe are generally not signs that you are making your head injury worse, rather eliciting these symptoms can be a positive thing, as it allows your brain / body to re-train its self to overcome them more easily in the future.... you most certainly want to avoid hits to the head/ trauma. but dont stop perusing activity.

    Vibes.
    Thanks, that's encouraging. I definitely haven't stopped all activity. I'm working out several times per week (though no jumping/plyos) and bike commuting to work most days.
    Last edited by Dantheman; 01-14-2020 at 03:29 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dantheman View Post



    A friend of ours spent a few years as an engineer for a company that makes joint replacement implants. As part of the job he had to observe a bunch of surgeries and says it's carpentry 100%, just with bones and blood.


    Oh I believe it... sawing and pounding and screws and chisels. Shudder.

    Just hadn't heard the term before.

    I'll quit bogging down the thread. Good luck
    life ain't guaranteed, love your people while you can

  16. #16
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    Here is a link to set of evidenced based assessment / treatment protocols ... while some the testing and terminology may be outside of your wheel house, it may provide you with enough information to ask a professional about, and there are some treatments that you could easily incorporate into your own rehab/ exercise routine.... also lots of nerdy references, if reading medical journals is your thing.

    https://www.fowlerkennedy.com/wp-con...Guidelines.pdf
    "Its not the arrow, its the Indian" - M.Pinto

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norseman View Post
    Oh I believe it... sawing and pounding and screws and chisels. Shudder.

    Just hadn't heard the term before.

    I'll quit bogging down the thread. Good luck
    More bio-arborist than carpentry but the first chain saws were for cutting bones.

    Rough to read about your long term consequences DTM. Could you pick up swimming or something as an alternative? For whatever reason I've been thinking lately about how to I keep active-ish and interested if I can't do ____ and swimming seems like a decent choice

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by cmcrawfo View Post
    Here is a link to set of evidenced based assessment / treatment protocols ... while some the testing and terminology may be outside of your wheel house, it may provide you with enough information to ask a professional about, and there are some treatments that you could easily incorporate into your own rehab/ exercise routine.... also lots of nerdy references, if reading medical journals is your thing.

    https://www.fowlerkennedy.com/wp-con...Guidelines.pdf
    Thanks for that. The exercise guidelines are pretty conservative but exertion on it's own doesn't seem to bother me.
    Quote Originally Posted by abraham View Post
    More bio-arborist than carpentry but the first chain saws were for cutting bones.

    Rough to read about your long term consequences DTM. Could you pick up swimming or something as an alternative? For whatever reason I've been thinking lately about how to I keep active-ish and interested if I can't do ____ and swimming seems like a decent choice
    Swimming has never appealed to me. I don't really like pools. Open water swimming seems better, but you're still spending all of your time face down staring into the abyss while going really slow.

    I've definitely had those same thoughts though. Never too early to start planning for when you're old and broken. Swimming just isn't it for me.
    Last edited by Dantheman; 01-07-2020 at 08:34 PM.

  19. #19
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    I've posted about my concussion experiences a bit, but I had a mild concussion from a bike crash that had symptoms that lingered for the better part of a year. What I learned through PT that concurrent with my concussion I'd sprained one of the joints in my neck and some of the "brain bobble" I felt had been related to instability in my neck.

    It may be worth getting a PT to take a look at things as well. I'd always assumed that neck issues would be quite obvious. I was pretty surprised how the headaches I was getting were due to shitty posture, sleeping on my stomach and some other things.

    It sounds like you are dealing with some more complex issues that I had. Good luck man.

  20. #20
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    The main thing is to not risk another head injury until the symptoms of the first are completely gone. It's concussion upon concussion that seems to cause the chronic encephalopathy. To me that means no skiing or mountain biking. As I'm sure you know the best way to fall doing either is to try not to fall. Plus skiing conservatively you can still be hit from behind. I have no idea about the sauna.

    BTW brain surgery, once the bone flap is removed, is buzz, suck, patty--repeated ad infinitum. There's very little blood, and if there is things have gone to shit. The electric cautery was invented for brain surgery. Patties are tiny sponges. We all know what suck means.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_B View Post
    I've posted about my concussion experiences a bit, but I had a mild concussion from a bike crash that had symptoms that lingered for the better part of a year. What I learned through PT that concurrent with my concussion I'd sprained one of the joints in my neck and some of the "brain bobble" I felt had been related to instability in my neck.

    It may be worth getting a PT to take a look at things as well. I'd always assumed that neck issues would be quite obvious. I was pretty surprised how the headaches I was getting were due to shitty posture, sleeping on my stomach and some other things.

    It sounds like you are dealing with some more complex issues that I had. Good luck man.
    Despite landing right on the crown of my head my neck never felt the slightest bit sore or otherwise out of sorts. Can't say the same for the rest of my torso which was a wreck, up to and including a fractured manubriosternal joint. My neck still feels totally fine, can those kind of neck injuries you had be totally asymptomatic?

  22. #22
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    It wasnt completely asymptomatic but it was mild enough that I never thought "my neck is fucked" or woke up and couldn't turn it. Those are more of what I expected to be symptoms of whiplash.

    When I landed I was flat on my back and had my chin tucked to my chest, then my head whipped back onto the ground.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dantheman View Post
    Despite landing right on the crown of my head my neck never felt the slightest bit sore or otherwise out of sorts. Can't say the same for the rest of my torso which was a wreck, up to and including a fractured manubriosternal joint. My neck still feels totally fine, can those kind of neck injuries you had be totally asymptomatic?
    You can certainly have a significant neck injury without symptoms initially; the other injuries can mask neck symptoms. Neck pain would appear over time though. In general it is very common for less painful injuries to be discovered days or longer after major trauma as the symptoms become more apparent.
    With a fractured sternum and a head injury I would assume your neck was xrayed to rule out injury. The chest bone is connected to the neck bone. The neck bone is connected to the head bone.

  24. #24
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    Low impact physical and mental challenge.

    For me (besides tele ski ballet - youíre really missing out!), I have found a martial/application style of tai chi chuan to be challenging both mentally and physically. Not the old person version (unless they are very strong), but the kind where you are in a moving squat position for 30-60 minutes (depending on speed) once youíve learned the slow form, which can take several months of classes taught several times a week and practice when not in class. A good instructor will also be able to teach multiple forms, like fast forms, weapons forms, push hands, application, etc., and will be able to provide form corrections to even advanced students. The leg strengthening for me is phenomenal, and it provided me a new and challenging meditation.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by old goat View Post
    Plus skiing conservatively you can still be hit from behind.
    Yeah, Jerry is definitely a concern. I should dust off my touring gear and try going for a walk. Up until quite recently even a mellow tour seemed like it might be a bit much but it would probably be OK now.

    Quote Originally Posted by old goat View Post
    You can certainly have a significant neck injury without symptoms initially; the other injuries can mask neck symptoms. Neck pain would appear over time though. In general it is very common for less painful injuries to be discovered days or longer after major trauma as the symptoms become more apparent.
    With a fractured sternum and a head injury I would assume your neck was xrayed to rule out injury. The chest bone is connected to the neck bone. The neck bone is connected to the head bone.
    I definitely have previous experience with polytrauma and delayed diagnosis (once took a week to discover I had a scapula fx, due to also having a clavicle fx).

    Neck was not xrayed, nor was the sternum. Doc diagnosed the sternal fx based on pain level and location. Palpation indicated no displacement, and since a "fracture" of the manubriosternal joint is actually torn cartilage he thought an xray would just look normal. Neck wasn't done because there was zero pain, discomfort or dysfunction. This far out I really doubt there's anything wrong with my neck.

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