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article imageOp-Ed: Neurological Chiropractor says head trauma in sports is serious Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Sep 7, 2013 in Sports
San Francisco - The Kezar Pavilion near San Francisco's Golden Gate Park was filled almost to capacity on Aug.24 for the 14th Dragon House Mixed Martial Arts event. Amid the noise and excitement, only a few steps away from ringside was Dr. Christopher DeMartini,
a chiropractic neurologist who specializes in helping healing the human body through evidence-based, natural, non-invasive methods. He was there to raise awareness to the MMA community that concussion and head injury are very serious and must be attended to immediately. As a Chiropractic Neurologist, he considers any head trauma as potentially serious and that concussion evaluation and management are vital to health and recovery.
Christopher DeMartini  DC and his wife Elham Khodabandeloo were at the Dragon House 14 Mixed Martial...
Christopher DeMartini, DC and his wife Elham Khodabandeloo were at the Dragon House 14 Mixed Martial Arts event in San Francisco this past August 24, 2013. DeMartini is on a quest to raise awareness in the MMA and sports community that head concussions are serious and should be investigated/examined more thoroughly.
The event's coordinator and promoter, Zhong Luo noted, that last year's event also held at Kezar, “there were over 2,000 people in attendance.” "Yes, he said, participants in this type of sport are prone to injury." Luo who founded Dragon House martial arts school in San Francisco more than a decade ago, teaches the traditional Chinese Kung Fu in the Bak Mei (White Eyebrow) and Lung Ying (Dragon) styles, while also promoting the Mixed Martial Arts which has been growing in popularity as a professional sport.
DeMartini was once a student of Luo’s and attended his martial arts school, in San Francisco's Mission District. Luo is very supportive of DeMartini's interest not only in martial arts but also in DeMartini's passion to bring neurological chiropractic to martial arts and MMA sports. While at St. Ignatius College Prep High School in the city's Sunset District, back in the 1990's, DeMartini did well in sports. "I was a California State Champion in the shot put and a Junior National Champion in weightlifting," he said. "
"Chris is the only Saint Ignatius track and field athlete to win a California State championship, noted Aldo Congi, one of his coaches then, winning the shotput in 1994."Congi is a native of San Francisco and also an alum of the prominent prep school. Speaking glowingly of DeMartini, Congi also noted, "He also took 2nd in the state meet in discus, and is the S.I. school record holder in that event with a throw of 195’ 6," Congi said.
Kezar Pavilion has been home to the Dragon House MMA events for over a decade. Zhong Luo  the Dragon...
Kezar Pavilion has been home to the Dragon House MMA events for over a decade. Zhong Luo, the Dragon House founder believes that in martial arts important principles and strengths are taught.
Upon graduating from S.I. DeMartini declined many athletic scholarships in order to accept a residency at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado for the sport of weightlifting. While in Colorado Springs he completed his undergraduate education at Pikes Peak Community College.
Yet, he confided to this reporter while on assignment for the Sunset Beacon at the MMA event that Saturday night, "my Olympic hopes were dashed when I injured my back severely." The odd pain that would not go away, that was considered to be just muscle spasms was actually two herniated discs. "Thanks to the help of Dr. Sergio Azzolino, a chiropractic specialist here in the City, DeMartini then embarked on a new path, that of becoming a Chiropractic Neurologist.
Dragon House 14 event coordinator and promoter  Zhong Luo is very proud of his students. He believes...
Dragon House 14 event coordinator and promoter, Zhong Luo is very proud of his students. He believes very strongly in the positive aspects of the event as a sport. Yet he also believes strongly in the principles that all ancient martial arts teach.
DeMartini earned his Doctorate of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic College West graduating cum laude. "Chris DeMartini was one of my students here at Life Chiropractic College West," said Dr. Norman Strutin, DC - DACNB. He serves as Chair of the Clinical Science Dept. and associate Dean of Instruction at the well-established chiropractic college in Hayward, CA.
Strutin verified, "Dr. Chris pursued post-graduate work via the Carrick Institute for Postgraduate Studies in a program leading to eligibility to sit the certification exams in Chiropractic Neurology offered by the American Chiropractic Neurology Board (ACNB.org)." Dr. Chris received his certification as a Diplomate in Chiropractic Neurology (DACNB) in 2006," Strutin also said.
Even though the disappointment of not being able to go to the Olympics was a significant moment in his life, "I knew that I would go into some sort of healing profession," said DeMartini. He credits that to his Jesuit education at S.I. With the help of his wife, Elham Khodabandeloo, an acupuncturist formally trained and certified at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco and also through California Pacific Medical Center, DeMartini believes his outreach to the field of sports medicine very formidable.
Kezar Pavilion is next to the venerable Kezar Stadium  near San Francisco s Golden Gate Park. Once a...
Kezar Pavilion is next to the venerable Kezar Stadium, near San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Once a fully enclosed sports arena and stadium, Kezar is where Polytechnic High and Lowell High School rivaled. The old Kezar was featured in the 1971 movie "Dirty Harry" starring Clint Eastwood. Now, completely renovated and downscaled, it is a completely outdoor arena.
"So far, at this event, there have been two head concussions," said Khodabandeloo. "People don't realize how easy it is to get a concussion, from something as simple as a fall to the ground," she added. Like her husband, she too suffered from an unexpected injury, which then inspired her to becoming an acupuncturist. "I was teaching at Balboa High School, when Christopher and I met," she said.
"Yeah, I was working as bouncer at a night spot in the Mission District, called 'Liquid' DeMartini recalled. Both he and Khodabandeloo looked at one another and smiled, realizing that was more than 13 years ago. Now they have a son and have settled into married life while working together in the medical field.
According to the US Dept. of Labor statistics, the chiropractic profession is expected to increase by 28 percent from now through 2020. That is faster than the average for all occupations, notes the labor bureau at its website. People across all age groups are increasingly becoming interested in chiropractic care because it consists of non-surgical, non-pharmacology methods of treatment.
Even though mixed marital arts has its basis in ancient martial art technique and teachings  an MMA ...
Even though mixed marital arts has its basis in ancient martial art technique and teachings, an MMA event has its moments of spectacle and excitement for the crowds.
“I made the choice to go with chiropractic because I enjoy working with my patients on a one on one basis through the rehabilitation process and empowering people to take the best care of themselves. I wouldn’t get the same satisfaction performing surgery or writing prescriptions” aid DeMartini. "I also want to work for the patients, not for the insurance companies," he said. He agrees with many Americans that the current healthcare system in the nation is not meeting the needs of the people, while costs continue to soar.
According to a 1993 Canadian study funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health, "there is an overwhelming body of evidence indicating that chiropractic care, managing low-back pain is more cost effective than medical management." While in 1995 The New England Journal of Medicine did a similar study, one of the conclusions was that satisfaction was greatest among the patients who went to the chiropractors.
DeMartini noted that all chiropractors are trained as primary care physicians first but many focus their practices on musculoskeletal disorders of the spine primarily and that only about 1% attain board certification in neurology. “Yes, there is the concern of the back and the spine,” which is common. But as he noted, "The back, spine, the entire skeletal structure is linked to the intricate connection of nerves (as well as muscles) and these are all linked to the brain."
"Any major trauma, affects the brain and this is why head injuries in particular should be looked at very closely." "I should know, said DeMartini, I’ve had two concussions and anything that impacts the brain, has an impact on your overall health." He noted that there is so much to the brain and its function that researchers are just now beginning to unlock its secrets.
"Take for example, whiplash, a common injury. Mostly people think it’s about the neck, that is obvious," he said. "But, what about the brain?" "That sudden jolt of motion, even if the head does not hit anything, can cause damage to the brain," he said.
He pointed to the two opponents that were fighting in the ring, an enclosed cage. One was kicking the other in the face, hitting his bare foot against the other opponent's jaw. "That motion there, did you see it? That could cause brain damage, if it is strong enough or repeated again and again," said DeMartini.
"While I am not acquainted, with Mixed Martial Arts, said Dr. Strutin of DeMartini's interest in MMA, I do know that anytime boxing is involved in a sport, head trauma, injury concussion may occur," said Strutin.
Dragon House 14 was an exciting Mixed Martial Arts event held at San Francisco s Kezar Pavilion  nea...
Dragon House 14 was an exciting Mixed Martial Arts event held at San Francisco's Kezar Pavilion, near Golden Gate Park on Aug. 24, 2013.
"You have probably read about the recent lawsuit back in August, against the NFL, awarding a settlement of $756 million to players regarding the late neural consequences of repetitive head trauma and concussion (early dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.)," noted Strutin. It was previously thought that a concussion would heal easily on its own. "Yet, now that is changing, said Strutin, because of the increase in research and new discoveries about the brain."
Strutin also mentioned that in boxing it has been understood for decades that repetitive blows to the head may cause permanent damage. "Anytime someone get's 'clocked' in the ring or 'sees stars' so to speak, Strutin said, that is an immediate indication that head trauma has occurred and should be attended to."
MMA as a sport is a mixture of martial arts, wrestling and boxing. The damage a competitor can endure can be significant, from broken bones and fractures to internal bleeding and head injury. "There are over 120 martial arts schools in the Bay Area and it is now my mission in life at this point in my career to minister to all of them," said DeMartini.
"Given his interest in martial arts, said Strutin, evaluation of concussion and post-concussion management would certainly be an important area for Dr. DeMartini."
For more information about Dr. Christopher DeMartini, Chiropractor and Neurologist and his approach to health and healing visit his website.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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