Almost 2 million kids suffer concussions every year playing sports like hockey, soccer and football, but one local athlete says he found a treatment that is making him better a lot faster.
Spencer Silverstein, quarterback of the football team at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland, suffered a common injury during a game last month.
“What happened was, I ran the ball and had a head-on collision when I got tackled, and I didn’t notice that I had anything right away, actually threw a touchdown afterwards, and then I came out to the side lines and I noticed I was losing vision in my left eye,” he said.
Usually concussions are treated with rest, but for the past month, Spencer’s spent time in a hyperbaric chamber, which delivers high doses of oxygen. He says it has helped him.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, defined as the inhalation of 100 percent oxygen under pressure, is FDA approved for 13 uses, including carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness and thermal burns. It is not approved for treatment of concussions, though some people, including Spencer, report it helps with symptoms, and he’s back on the field.
“I feel much better,” he said.
Studies on using it as a treatment for traumatic brain injuries go back to the 1960s, but its efficacy remains a disputed topic within the medical and research communities.
Doctors and researchers who study concussions agree the brain is extraordinarily complex and there is still much to learn, which is why studies like a Virginia Tech study released last week help.
Researchers followed 45 youth football players, attaching sensors to their helmets to determine to find out just how much force is hitting them. They found at least 8 percent of the kids had hits that landed with high magnitude — 40 times the weight of gravity or more. That can be as hard as some NFL players get hit.
Researchers hope by learning about intensity of the hits for kids, coaches will adapt plays accordingly.