What Happens To Your Brain After A Concussion? with Dr. Kabran Chapek

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

When you suffer a brain injury, even something as minor as a concussion, your brain won’t just heal on its own. You must be active in your recovery to avoid experiencing the various side effects that often accompany these injuries. In the last episode of a series with “Concussion Rescue” author Dr. Kabran Chapek, he and the Amens discuss the impact that a brain injury can have on your life, and why it’s crucial to put your brain in a healing environment.

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Dr Daniel Amen: We are going to start your new year, your new decade off with a bang. Tana and I are going to do a six week live class. So starting January 21st, every Tuesday we're going to be with you for an hour. At the end we're going to give away over $20,000 in prizes. We look forward to helping you kick off this new year by becoming brain health revolutionaries.
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com. Welcome back. We are still here with our friend Dr. Kabran Chapek and we're talking about his book Concussion Rescue. Such interesting conversation through this week just about how many people get head injuries and don't know it, aren't treated for it, aren't properly treated for it and are walking around with the effects of head injury. I was one of them, so I understand. It's just astounding. But there's hope and there's help. So we're talking about some of the risk factors but also what you can do. I'm so excited not just about your book, Dr. Chapek, but about the course. There's just something about that I think is going to be really helpful to people to walk them through with you holding their hand. I'm excited about that.
Dr Kabran Chapek: Thank you.
Dr Daniel Amen: We sort of ended on D in Bright Minds, diabesity and how critical it is. Because if you're overweight you automatically have four of the 11 Bright Minds risk factors. If you're overweight, you have more inflammation because belly fat actually produces inflammatory adipokines that increase inflammation throughout your whole body, fat stores, toxins. So you have more toxins, and you have lower overall blood flow to your brain, which is the study I published in normal people and in our NFL group. Working on getting your way to a healthy level. I love this. I have this new story. I'm seeing the son of a very famous bad guy, and it's just been two months. He's lost 30 pounds because he just does everything I ask him. I love that. Those are the people who get better.
Dr Kabran Chapek: Wow. That's Awesome.
Tana Amen: But you're bringing up a good point because so many people think that when we talk about weight, we're body shaming. No, it's not about that. It's about your health. Weight isn't easy for everyone to lose. But if you're having trouble with your weight, you need to be checked out. I personally think that you need to be checked out on multiple levels, biological, obviously to see if your hormones and everything else, your nutritional-
Dr Daniel Amen: Or if you had a head injury.
Tana Amen: Right, so biological, psychological, if you've got a lot of excess baggage from the past, you need to deal with that. Social, your social circles matter when it comes to your weight because people are contagious. Weight is tricky and it's not about us body shaming. It's about us wanting you to get better. So if you're struggling with that, it's complex. It's not one thing. It's not a matter of willpower. It's way more complex than that.
Dr Kabran Chapek: Agreed.
Dr Daniel Amen: But much more common in concussions and head trauma because 91% of them affect the prefrontal cortex.
Tana Amen: And hormones we just talked about.
Dr Daniel Amen: And that leads us to S is sleep problems become very common after a head injury.
Dr Kabran Chapek: That's right. Yeah. I was actually giving a lecture to Brain Injury conference about four years ago and someone in the audience asked me, why do people with brain injuries always have sleep problems? I was kind of stumped like, okay, what's the actual mechanism? So I had to go back to the literature, look at this. One of the reasons is just less melatonin production.
Tana Amen: I was wondering. Yeah.
Dr Kabran Chapek: Yeah, so there is less melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that can be over the counter. [crosstalk 00:04:38].
Tana Amen: Yeah, I have to take it and I think it was after the head injury. I can't sleep without melatonin. Like I can but I'm fitful. Plus the thyroid. So melatonin and magnesium is so helpful.
Dr Kabran Chapek: So helpful for sleep.
Dr Daniel Amen: So you are on board with this fact that you had a head injury?
Tana Amen: Well, I am now. Didn't have a choice after I saw my brain. I'm like, it's either that or I have a really bad brain for no reason. [inaudible 00:05:08].
Dr Kabran Chapek: The other reason is hypocretin. Hypocretin is a wake promoting hormone. So it's the reason often people are really tired after brain injury.
Tana Amen: Oh, interesting.
Dr Kabran Chapek: It keeps people awake and so it's suppressed for some subset of patients after brain injury. So often people feel... And just there's damage. So the neurons aren't firing properly and in sequence and in series. It's kind of like your neighbor with their music on and it's sort of keeping you awake at night. Then during the day it's annoying. It's just sort of like there all the time.
Tana Amen: Yes.
Dr Kabran Chapek: The neurons aren't able to shut down when it's time to go to sleep and they're not able to wake up fully and have good focus and memory when you're awake. So it's a real... It's like a horrible thing.
Dr Daniel Amen: Another part of that is the lower frontal lobe function. What most people don't know is the frontal lobes are in large part inhibitory. What that means is they send signals to your emotional brain to settle down.
Tana Amen: Ah. So when you start spinning on thoughts/.
Dr Daniel Amen: So when you take the frontal lobes offline, your amygdala and your hippocampus start screaming at you every bad thing that ever happened.
Tana Amen: Oh. Which is that. I'm like one of those people in the middle of the night all of a sudden wake up, "I have a list." I have a list in my head at four o'clock in the morning.
Dr Daniel Amen: I'm so glad you don't wake me up and tell me the list.
Tana Amen: But I'm wondering, is that common for people who have had head injuries? Like what you're saying, if that inhibitory process isn't working, are we more likely to start spinning on stuff at night?
Dr Kabran Chapek: Yes, absolutely. Yes.
Dr Daniel Amen: What about Irlen Syndrome? What I've found is it's so common in people who have traumatic brain injury.
Dr Kabran Chapek: It is.
Dr Daniel Amen: They're light-sensitive. Their depth perception is not as good. They have headaches. When they read, letters or words might move on the page or they get blurry. Wearing colored filtered lenses is so helpful.
Dr Kabran Chapek: It really helps.
Dr Daniel Amen: So healing. Some of my NHL players actually wear colored tinted masks when they play because their depth perception is so much better.
Dr Kabran Chapek: Absolutely.
Dr Daniel Amen: I think almost anybody that's had a concussion should at least get screened for the Irlen Syndrome.
Dr Kabran Chapek: Agreed. 100%.
Dr Daniel Amen: We had Helen Irlen on a couple of times.
Tana Amen: So interesting.
Dr Daniel Amen: I'm like a huge fan. You just need to like do these things. As our time comes close to an end, it's insane. I'm a psychiatrist, I can diagnose insanity. It's insane to have a significant concussion, go to the emergency room, and then have them go, "You're fine," even after a CT scan. "You're fine. Just go rest."
Tana Amen: We've seen so many people's lives destroyed from that process.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well, it's a cause of suicide. Undiagnosed brain injuries is a major cause of suicide. It's a cause of homicide. It's a cause of homelessness. Another brand new study out, 50% of homelessness, of homeless people, how to significant brain injury before they were homeless. In Toronto, that number's 58% for men and 42% for women. It's a major cause of depression, of panic disorder. As you talked about Kabran, ADHD. How would you know if you didn't look? There's this great study that they actually scanned people right after they had a head injury. If their scan was normal, they had a hundred percent chance they'd recover well, and if their scan was abnormal, that wasn't predictive because the brain has many healing mechanisms, but nine months later, if it's still abnormal, it predicted with a high level of certainty, you're in trouble. So that's where SPECT, I think is the best tool because an MRI and a CT scan show structure, but they don't show function.
Tana Amen: But wait, so you're saying after nine months, if it still has problems, you're in trouble. But what does that mean? Does that mean that even if you didn't treat it right then, is there still hope later if someone treats it? That's the-
Dr Daniel Amen: If they put their brain in a healing environment.
Tana Amen: So let's say they didn't put their brain in a healing environment for several years, five years, 10 years. They suffered those consequences, but then they realize that they can still be better.
Dr Daniel Amen: They can still be better. In fact, in my NFL work, I treated a lot of older NFL players. Some of them were in their sixties, seventies even eighties. 80% of them were better two months later if we're doing the program that Kabran talks about in Concussion Rescue.
Tana Amen: So the brain is more plastic than we've given it credit for.
Dr Daniel Amen: The brain is more mendable, more moldable. Tomorrow your brain can be better if you sleep better tonight, if you eat better today. And it can be worse.
Tana Amen: Right. That's a good point.
Dr Daniel Amen: I mean, I did a scan of a news anchor recently. The scan looked terrible. I'm like looking at him like, "Cocaine, heroin, what is this?" He got no sleep the night before. So I'm going to scan him again to go, is his brain just terrible that we need to fix or was it the severe sleep [crosstalk 00:10:42]?
Tana Amen: Well, and we've seen the same thing with severe dehydration. Their brains looked terrible.
Dr Daniel Amen: Your brain can be better tomorrow by doing the things that Dr. Chapek talks about in his book Concussion Rescue.
Tana Amen: I'm so excited about your program.
Dr Kabran Chapek: Thank you.
Tana Amen: I'm partially like so excited about it because I answer questions on social media. So many of them are people just are terrified after having a concussion and they don't know what to do. Even if you tell them what to do, it still seems a little abstract and vague to them because this is what we do, it's not what they do. They need someone to hold their hand because they can't focus. The daily process of holding someone's hand is just going to be critical.
Dr Daniel Amen: Hopefully if you're listening to this, you can just see how insane the current recommendations are. Our recommendation is immediately you put the brain in a healing environment just as if you broke your leg. It's so important. If they take the course once the course is out, what are they going to learn beyond what we've talked about today?
Dr Kabran Chapek: They're going to learn what labs to have their doctor order for them. They're going to learn more about specific nutritional recommendations. For example, how the ketogenic diet may fit in. It's not for everybody. It's a therapeutic diet and it can be very healing for some people. I had a patient who was a airline pilot and he went out for drinks when he was in Australia, got punched out, and couldn't fly back.
Dr Daniel Amen: That's why I don't go out for drinks.
Dr Kabran Chapek: So he was suffering for many months and he couldn't take the pills anymore. He's like, "What's one supplement I can take that will help me?" And I said, "Don't take any supplements. Do the ketogenic diet. If you want to do one thing, let's try the ketogenic diet." In several weeks he had more energy, he was sleeping better. Then he was able to take the supplements and do it all and now two years later, he's finally going back to work. [crosstalk 00:12:47].
Tana Amen: Yeah, it's a good point. Sometimes the one step to another.
Dr Daniel Amen: I would recommend two of our supplements. So if you're like what's the least I can do? It would be one scoop of the Bright Minds powder because it's called Bright Minds powder because we go after all of these risk factors and take Omega-3 Power.
Dr Kabran Chapek: Hits them all.
Dr Daniel Amen: Take between two and four of Omega-3 Power and one scoop of the Bright Minds powder. That's where I would start.
Dr Kabran Chapek: Absolutely.
Dr Daniel Amen: It's that formula that I used with our NFL group, and we showed significant improvement. Well, you are a joy as always.
Tana Amen: It's awesome. Concussion Rescue.
Dr Daniel Amen: We love you. We appreciate you.
Dr Kabran Chapek: My pleasure.
Dr Daniel Amen: I am so proud of you for writing this book, for talking about it. This is just an issue. It's not going to go away in your lifetime or my lifetime. It's a needed resource, and you are a brain warrior and we're proud of you.
Tana Amen: Thank you, Dr. Chapek.
Dr Kabran Chapek: Thank you so much. You're both inspirations to me. Thank you so much for having me on. It's been an honor.
Tana Amen: Thank you.
Dr Kabran Chapek: It's an honor to work with you.
Dr Daniel Amen: All right. Brain Warrior's Way podcast. Stay with us.
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Dr Daniel Amen: If you're considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from Brain MD, you can use the code podcast10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com or a 10 percent discount on all supplements at brainmdhealth.com. For more information, give us a call at (855) 978-1363.