Do eating habits impact recovery after concussion? Probably. Certainly no less than healthy nutrition contributes to recovery after any injury. After all, concussion, also sometimes referred to as a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), or a complicated, moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI), or even a severe TBI involves a complex array of structural, neurochemical, metabolic, hormonal, and other secondary changes. These alterations trigger functional and chemical imbalances that disrupt brain “homeostasis,” energy crises, and alteration of cerebral blood flow that can leak toxic substances into the brain.
While it is often said that the majority of concussion patients recover following injury, the statistics are less reliable than previously thought. In fact, longitudinal studies suggest that close to 50% of the mTBI patients experience persisting symptoms – or post- concussion symptoms well past the initial three month period.
A recent paper reported on a PRISMA compliant “systematic review” entitled “Nutritional interventions to support acute mTBI recovery”. A systematic review is a critical assessment of world-wide research studies that address the identified topic by evaluation of the body of literature using a rigorous methodology.
The synthesized results reported benefit from dietary supplementation with Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, Magnesium oxide, N-acetyl-cysteine, as well as other supplements including some available by infusion only and reported because part of a study.
We rarely hear about any physician prescribing a course of nutritional supplements. Generally, our clients do not see concussion specialists until their symptoms appear to be steady as opposed to abating. Perhaps this blog will prompt more patients and families to focus on nutrition as part of a plan for recovery.
Finnegan E, Daly E, Pearce AJ and Ryan L (2022) Nutritional interventions to support acute mTBI recovery. Front. Nutr. 9:977728.