Are there nutrition interventions appropriate for an athlete post concussion?
H2O Nutrition highlights the Nutrition Interventions for active individuals and athletes post concussion. A concussion is a type of brain injury resulting from a blow to the head or body, sometimes causing a range of cognitive, physical, and/or emotional symptoms such as loss of consciousness or concentration, headache, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and sleep difficulties Concussion overview, 2010. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tracks various injuries through its Injury Surveillance Program, which is intended, in part, to provide a systematic approach to tracking injury occurrences and has recently reported that concussion rates have remained steady over the past 8 years.
Concussion rates in fall sports including soccer, field hockey and volleyball in 2011-2012 were 1.9 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures. Football rates were slightly higher at 2.5 injuries per 1,000 exposures in 2011-2012 (Hendrickson, 2012). Given the impact and possible consequences of these types of injuries, there has been considerable interest in potential nutrition interventions in treatment protocols.
Nutrition Interventions Post Concussion
An Institute of Medicine expert committee was assembled to review the role of nutrition and published a report in 2011 outlining the topic. The one intervention the committee concluded could immediately improve treatment efforts was early feeding. It recommends standardized feeding protocols to provide adequate levels of energy and protein to patients with severe traumatic brain injury. Within the first 24 hours, feeding that represents more than 50% of the injured person’s total energy expenditure and providing 1.0 g to 1.5 g protein per kilogram of body weight is recommended. This regimen should be continued daily for two weeks post-injury. The report stated that this intervention is likely to limit the inflammatory response typically at its peak during these first two weeks, and thereby improve the ultimate health outcome.
Additional nutrients identified as having strong promise for improving outcomes were choline, creatine, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc. There was insufficient evidence for these nutrients to provide specific treatment recommendations Erdman, 2011.