Concussions Resolve Themselves

Because they are mini-strokes. 

So how in the world are we going to try to relate these two events? It’s simple, if you accept some of my other proofs. But if you don’t, I would just stop reading right here. Here are the prerequisites to understanding this correlation:

What are the symptoms of a mini-stroke?

  • Weakness or numbness in your arms and/or legs, usually on one side of the body
  • Dysphasia (difficulty speaking)
  • Dizziness
  • Vision changes
  • Tingling (paresthesias)
  • Abnormal taste and/or smells
  • Confusion
  • Loss of balance
  • Altered consciousness and/or passing out

What are the symptoms of a concussion?

  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
  • Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
  • Dizziness or “seeing stars”
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Appearing dazed
  • Fatigue

What are the causes of a mini-stroke?

  • Blood pressure readings higher than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg)
  • Cigarette smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, heart defects, heart infection or abnormal heart rhythm
  • Personal or family history of stroke, heart attack or transient ischemic attack.

Other factors associated with a higher risk of stroke include:

  • Age —People age 55 or older have a higher risk of stroke than do younger people.
  • Race — African-Americans have a higher risk of stroke than do people of other races.
  • Sex — Men have a higher risk of stroke than women. Women are usually older when they have strokes, and they’re more likely to die of strokes than are men.
  • Hormones — use of birth control pills or hormone therapies that include estrogen, as well as increased estrogen levels from pregnancy and childbirth.

We’ve studied almost all of these different causes and can tie them all back to the brain. [The hormones and sleep apnea posts are coming soon.]

Concussion Causes: Impacts to the head

The only symptom that really needs explanation is nausea, and that is a factor of strokes that just seems to not be included in most lists. But then I found this:

A stroke that takes place in the cerebellum can cause coordination and balance problems, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. 

So if you can wrap your head around the prerequisites, I can neatly tie these together. A stroke literally happens when the pressure of your brain gets to high. What happens to the pressure inside a closed sphere if you impact it with something at high speed? Pressure goes up dramatically. The greater the force of the impact, the higher the pressure gets.

So what’s the major take away here? Mini-strokes resolve themselves and do not require any further medical attention. They do not cause any long-term damage. Meaning that concussive blows should resolve themselves within twenty-four hours, and if there are no symptoms, the brain is fine. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.utdallas.edu/research/FAS/
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stroke/symptoms-causes/syc-20350113
  3. https://www.utdallas.edu/research/FAS/
  4. https://www.webmd.com/stroke/news/20100415/can-you-recognize-symptoms-of-minor-stroke

Self-Fulfilling Compulsions

I was watching Nadal play tennis last night, and thought about this. Here’s how you develop a pattern, and prove it to yourself, and basically become superstitious about it.

Think about how superstitious Nadal is. About his routine, his water bottles, stepping over the lines. He’s done this for years and been one of the most successful athletes in his sport.

But how did he get to this point? 

I would say first and foremost is that he doesn’t know what makes him a better tennis player than anyone else. He would probably say he worked harder, but there are 10,000 guys that work just as hard without any grand slam titles. Think about his first successes as a junior. At some point [pardon the pun], he won a match and thought I didn’t step on any lines. Maybe that is why I won. Or my water bottles were perfectly aligned. That is why I won. 

It’s not the compulsion that changes anything. But the fact that he thinks that the compulsions control things, change things. If he doubts that his tennis game can exist outside of these compulsions, he’d panic and lose his flow. We’ve shown how panic can shorten time and add strength, but it also takes away endurance and fluidity.

So, yes Nadal can play great tennis outside of his routines. But the fact that he doesn’t think he can, keeps him from it.

 

Hyperhidrosis: Beyond the Sweat

Heavy sweating, if you’re an athlete, can be dangerous or even deadly. So what causes it and can it be prevented?

What do we know about hyperhidrosis?

Some people sweat a lot. This is what we call it. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

Hyperhidrosis is a condition characterized by abnormally increased sweating, in excess of that required for regulation of body temperature. Although primarily a physical burden, hyperhidrosis can deteriorate quality of life from a psychological, emotional, and social perspective. It has been called by some ‘the silent handicap’.

Both the words diaphoresis and hidrosis can mean either perspiration (in which sense they are synonymous with sweating) or excessive perspiration, in which case they refer to a specific, narrowly defined, clinical disorder.

So using our crazy concept of time, can we make any progress? Yes.

Those with hyperhidrosis may have greater stress levels and more frequent depression.

Here is why that shouldn’t surprise you: these people sweat more because they stress more. Time is slower for them, so they are literally in the heat for longer than you. Think about what you’d look like if ran four miles instead of one. They are going to burn more calories, sweat more, cramp more often, and be more fatigued.

So if that is true, how do you prevent cramps?

Relax. Relax your mind, and your body. Once you start straining, time dilates. If you must push yourself beyond relaxed exertion, remember what you’re doing. Refuel accordingly. You’re going to burn a whole lot more calories under constant stress than you would relaxing, so prepare accordingly. As your blood sugar depletes, your body will circulate the remainder faster to keep levels up in your brain. This stresses the body even more, so keep your blood sugar in check. Find a routine that works for you. Take the rest that is given to you in whatever you’re doing. And most importantly, listen to your body. If you can’t focus and are constantly overheated, more exertion is not going to level you out.

What about salt?

It seems like there are a bunch of minerals lost to sweat. The current belief is, that if we replace those minerals, you don’t dehydrate, or at least don’t cramp. I don’t disagree with this. Replace whatever you lose. But know that if you can’t relax and control your perception of time, you won’t be able to eat enough bananas to counteract the strain.

Sources:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/muscle-cramp/symptoms-causes/syc-20350820
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperhidrosis

 

Clutch is a mindset

Steph Curry is a good golfer…a really good golfer. He essentially competed on the professional level, and didn’t embarrass himself.

So how does that connect to being clutch? Bear with me.

Here’s why his golf ability shouldn’t surprise you: he’s the best shooter in the NBA. You could probably argue he’s the best shooter in NBA history. How does that translate to golf? Well in fundamentals, it doesn’t. But the mindset is the same. The state of mind it takes to replicate shots from beyond the arc is similar to that of a professional golfer.

What you’re going to say is that Steph’s dad was in the NBA, so he’s just got good genes. Believe that if you want. Tell your kids they can never shoot like that. They can.

The fundamentals are easy, the mindset is what takes practice. You can teach a kid how to shoot a basketball in an hour. But to have him be able to pull a three with confidence at the buzzer in the NBA finals, there are only a couple people on the planet even qualified to have that conversation.

Think about all the guys you knew growing up that were “naturally athletic.” Maybe you knew that guy that was good at everything. This is not a coincidence. The mind and body work best together at a certain state, and they have just found it. Malcom Gladwell wrote about it taking 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything. That may be true, but some people get head starts, and this is how.

Steve Kerr [Steph’s coach] uses the Inner Game of Tennis for psychology in pressure situations. [article] This book is about the psychology of an athlete, and how to separate your thinking self from your playing self, and how to perform your best.

It’s all the same. When you find the infamous zone you’ve found your ground state. When you’ve removed yourself from the equation and let your body do what it already knows how to do.

Don’t let your mind get in the way of your performance. It has no place on the court, whether it be basketball, tennis, or golf. When you start thinking, you start losing.

 

 

 

Concussions do not cause CTE

I’m going to watch the Will Smith movie tonight. The gist of it would be this: a bunch of NFL veterans have serious neurological complications to their time in the league. And apparently they can link that directly to the concussions they experienced on the field. There was a billion dollar settlement, with 20,000 former players. 

I call bullshit.

What else do we know about people in the NFL? They are massive, and bigger than ever. Here’s some size information.  What does every player do when they get out of the league? They start looking at life in a new way and decide that they need to get healthier so they can live longer. Here are fifteen examples.  So if we can correlate exiting the NFL to massive weight loss, can they prove that the new symptoms in the former players is because of their head trauma and not because of their massive weight loss.

Because I can tell you from experience that massive weight loss can lead to depression. And assuming that the majority of these players were happy whenever they entered the league, and while they were playing, how can we attribute their sudden change to their concussive blows?

I had to do some research on CTE, and there were some pretty interesting findings. Worth noting: Previously, CTE had been associated with boxing and was called dementia pugilistica or “punch-drunk syndrome”. The risk of CTE in boxers seems most closely tied to the number of rounds boxed, not to the number of times a boxer was knocked out, suggesting that even repeated blows to the head that don’t cause unconsciousness may increase CTE risk. [Source: alz.org]

In general, there is no treatment, and no cure. And we really don’t know all that much about it. But we seem to think that it’s somehow tied to blows to the head. Here’s a great read about the NFL Hall of Famer Mike Webster and how he changed we look at concussions and injury protocol in the NFL and other contact sports.

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I can’t find his exact weight, but “Iron Mike” was 255 pounds when he played and a shell of that in the years following. I want to be very clear here: I am not saying that repeating head injury does not cause trauma, but I do not think it’s the whole story. One of the most relatable portions of his story was his drive. The guy would not stop. He was training on vacation. He was the first to practice and the last to leave. Everyone was impressed with his will and his drive. I can relate to that. I played tennis around the clock for the past two or three years. I know what the fire is like to be a man on a mission. What if that is one of the qualities that breaks us? When you remove all of what we know? What do we become?

Here are the people that get CTE:

Source of head impacts
Boxers Punches to the head
Tackle football players Hits to the helmet
Soccer players Headers and collisions
Ice hockey players Fighting, checking
Military veterans Blast injuries, combat
Victims of domestic abuse Repeated violence

I think of the brain as a very resilient machine, and I have a hard time believing that these disorders would remain dormant for so long. These football players sometimes played 20 years [if you count high school and college] before retiring. And they just seem to show symptoms later in life.

So if we are completely missing the point and the new helmets and protocols don’t work? At some point, we’ll realize that the problem is not with the hits. The problem is the lifestyle, body, and mind transformation that the players go through after they exit the league.

In this NY Times article, they analyzed over 200 former NFL players, and 111 had CTE. Most noteworthy was that 44 were linemen. The number is twice as much as the other positions. And you think about it, lineman really don’t get hit in the head more often, do they? If CTE was impact related, wouldn’t the running backs or linebackers have a higher percentage?

If you’re still reading, here’s your conclusion. We’re missing the point. The brain is a resilient machine. It’s when you try to reprogram it that things start to go haywire. Concussive blows are not the only variable at play here. New helmets will not eliminate CTE, because concussive blows are not the underlying cause.

Edit: I watched the movie. It’s definitely worth a watch. Also, I came across Ryan Freel, the first Major League Baseball player diagnosed with CTE. He committed suicide on December 22nd, 2012. Read the article, and make your own judgments. They tallied up his concussions after his death: 10. What they don’t emphasize is that he was ADHD, bipolar, depressed, and on a host of brain altering drugs.