Concussions and Bowen Therapy
Concussions have become a significant and growing problem in lacrosse and other sports, at the youth, amateur and professional levels. Players who have concussions suffer from a range of symptoms including headaches, dizziness, nausea and irritability. They can have trouble focusing their mind and often find it difficult to interact with others. It is a frustrating and hopeless feeling, and there is little that the medical establishment can do to help. Most players are told they have to just wait until the symptoms go away. This can be a matter of days, weeks or much longer. B
An alternative treatment offers the hope of allowing players to return to the field and, more importantly, to their normal lives, sometimes in a single treatment. Read the remarkable story of this therapy and what it could mean to players suffering from the traumatic aftermath of concussions. Bowen Therapy is not well known or understood. It was invented by Tom Bowen in Australia sometime in the 1940s and has slowly made it's way around the world.
The therapy itself consists of a series of moves in which the practitioner uses their thumb and fingers to roll across muscles and connective tissues. No one seems to be able to give a complete scientific explanation of how it works, but there is ample anecdotal and clinical evidence that it does.In fact, results achieved through Bowen Therapy can seem almost miraculous; they are often immediate or nearly so and they are long-term. The miraculous nature of the results could actually be a barrier to widespread acceptance, given humans’ sceptical nature and mistrust of things that seem too good to be true. But get ready to put your scepticism aside, because what follows is the story of one lacrosse player who recovered from multiple concussions with two one-hour Bowen treatments and who remains symptom-free months later.
Nathan White is a promising box and field player from Peterborough, Ontario. He has won Under-16 and Under-19 national field championships with Team Ontario and has played parts of two seasons with the Junior Lakers. White has scored 21 goals and 10 assists in 22 career games in junior. The reason he’s played so few games is he has suffered three concussions in the past two years. The first one happened when he was pushed from behind and wound up getting hit in the head with an elbow. The opponent who hit him was a friend from field lacrosse, and White says it wasn’t intentional, but that didn’t make any difference to his symptoms. He suffered headaches, nausea and trouble thinking, and he says it “felt like I had a real tight hat on all the time.”White says, “I was always taught not to lay on the floor or ice cause it shows you’re hurt. That was the very first time I actually laid on the floor. I was still dazed and confused. I was really worried cause I just knew something was wrong.” He began to feel better eventually and returned to playing. As is so often the case with head injuries, he didn’t realize until afterwards that it was too early. Shortly after his return he dodged to the net, dove through the crease and hit his head on the floor when he landed. The symptoms returned and stayed longer this time.This summer, White returned to the Lakers and played eight games. In the final one, he was cutting down the middle at Peterborough’s Memorial Centre “and as I shot, someone came up with an elbow,” he says.This time the symptoms returned and weren’t going away.
White was finished for the season and had to watch his teammates as they made a strong playoff run, pushing the Orangeville Northmen to overtime of a seventh game in the OLA semi-finals. He says the “tight-hat” feeling remained and he had trouble thinking clearly, even six weeks after the injury. “It’s a real foggy feeling, nothing’s really clear,” White says. “It’s just foggy. That goes with emotions and everything, you’re not really sure how you feel.” He says that he felt the fogginess all the time right after the concussion and then on and off afterwards. “My feelings were as if I was in a snowstorm, i was very uncertain what was next, how i was gonna feel, what was gonna tick me off, what was gonna make me upset, what was gonna happen with lacrosse. It made everything seem so much more overwhelming.
After the bowen treatment, as I was driving home, I turned my head to shoulder to check for traffic when changing lanes. I was stunned by how freely and how far my head was able to turn. I sensed how huge the implications were for treating athletes. White’s concussion problems were always discussed in hushed tones and no one was really comfortable talking about it. It’s not something that people in sports want to talk about. Head injuries are really scary because you can’t just go to physio or have surgery and get better. The only approach western medicine really offers is rest, and plenty of it. Tracey Kelusky talked for my previous story about having to avoid using the computer and how he basically missed several months of his young son’s early life because he wasn’t really there. Ken Montour was still not playing a year and a half after suffering a major concussion. More importantly, he hadn’t been able to return to work as an education assistant with special needs children.If there was something that could help, I wanted to find out about it and spread the word. I contacted White through the Lakers coaching staff and met with him to talk about the treatment and see if he would be interested in trying it. He and his parents were game, so I put them in touch with a bowen practitioner. White went for his first bowen treatment.
After the first treatment, White said he noticed that the tightness in his head was gone, but he felt like he dwelt on what would happen. “I was thinking about it too much, worrying will it work will it work.” He returned for a second treatment a couple of weeks later, after which “it was like night and day. I didn’t dwell I just let it be and it was better right away. No tightness in my head and everything was pretty clear and I wasn’t irritated. I noticed that right away, and then a week into it I realized it was really working, that it wasn’t just a quick fix.”The second treatment was August 2, more than three months ago, and White continues to be symptom-free. In that time he has helped Ontario to the national Under-19 field gold medal and has felt good while running and lifting weights. He started school at Sir Sandford Fleming College to upgrade and will be heading to Onondaga Community College for two years starting in January.After that, he has committed to attend Stony Brook University on Long Island, NY, on a lacrosse scholarship. Being concussion-free is a huge weight off his mind, and he is feeling confident about the future. White is happy to feel like he has his life back, and he is looking forward to playing lacrosse again, instead of worrying that he may never be the player he believes he has the potential to be.
Nathan White’s story is just one example of a person making a full and lasting recovery, but it provides hope that Bowen Therapy could prove to be a revolutionary approach to dealing with concussions in the sports world.
Stamp is a TV sports announcer and lacrosse lover whose skill set made him a defender but who always dreamed of being a goal-scorer