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Case Studies - Head Injury / Post-concussion Syndrome

Male, Age 23 years, Bipolar Disorder, Epilepsy, Sleep Disorder, Headaches, Back Pain
This 23-year-old male suffered a closed head injury at age 17 in which he landed on his head due to a pole-vaulting accident at a high school track meet. Since the fall, he suffered from bipolar disorder (rapid-cycling mood swings), seizures (2-3 per day), daily headaches, daily neck and back pain, and sleep disorder (he would often be awake for 24-36 straight hours before finally going to sleep and then often would sleep for 24 or more hours). He was taking tegretol for bipolar disorder and pain medication for headaches.

During this patient's upper cervical exam, an upper neck injury was found, most likely stemming from the pole-vaulting accident. The injury was compromising this patient's brain and spinal cord function. After five months of upper cervical care, all mood swings, headaches, seizures, pain, and sleep trouble were corrected, and all medications were discontinued. All family members remarked at the enormous change in the patient's mental outlook, personality, and health.

Female, Age 67 years, Headaches, Temporal Arteritis (Autoimmune Disease)


"In 2012 I had two serious head injuries, both of which caused a concussion. It was a vog-filled summer and as the summer progressed, my head hurt constantly. I projected that the ongoing head pain was due to the heavy vog, as all my friends were similarly suffering.  A visit to the ER was a waste of time so when a high fever and vision problems set in and the headaches became debilitating, my doctor put all the symptoms together and diagnosed that I had Temporal Arteritis, an auto-immunne disease affecting the arteries in my cranium and put me on 40 mg of Prednisone. I was sent to a neurologist, a surgeon and then underwent the care of a rheumatologist, who increased the Prednisone to 60 mg. I gained 50 lbs., was unrecognizable, and slept only two hours or less a night. 

By great fortune I picked up the Maui Weekly outside the health food store (12/2013) and later read the article, "Healthy and Well-Adjusted" about Dr. Erin Elster, D.C. In the article autoimmune conditions were mentioned with "reported recovery," so I called Dr. Elster and made an appointment. X-rays were taken at Triangle Square and that same morning, I viewed the X-rays with her to see that my atlas was out nearly 3 cm. Dr. Elster adjusted my atlas and immediately the symptoms were over! 

My gratitude on that auspicious day (12/13/13) for the work of Dr. Elster has increased a hundredfold. She has also helped many of my friends. When I think of her my heart feels so enormously happy for changing my life, which would have been destroyed by Prednisone and its side effects.

Thank you Dr. Elster!"

~ M.S., Kihei, HI

Female, Age 28 years, Head Injury
While riding her bike, this 28-year-old female cyclist was hit by a motorcycle. She flew over her handlebars and landed on her head, causing a concussion. Her symptoms included dizziness, ringing in the ears, headaches, fatigue, nausea, spinal pain, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and loss of balance which all caused her to be out of work for the year prior to seeking help from upper cervical care.

During her intial evaluation, an upper cervical injury was found, most likely stemming from her head trauma. After several months of care, she returned to work due to increased ability to concentrate and increased energy and mental clarity. Her symptoms of dizziness and nausea were greatly reduced. Two years later, she occasionally has minor flare-ups but in general has the ability to exercise, work, balance family and friends, and lead a busy life.


"In March 1996, I was traveling downhill on my bicycle when a motorcycle came shooting out of the alley in front of me. The impact launched me some 20-30 feet and I landed on my head. I was wearing a helmet, and was extremely fortunate to be alive, but I was unprepared for what having a head and neck injury meant. It was like jumping from the age of 26 to 86 in a split second. I walked in circles trying to remember what I was doing. Stairs were difficult; reading was extremely difficult; crossing the street was frightening; I had trouble finding words; I had trouble organizing written thoughts; grocery stores were a nightmare; noise and commotion was painful and brought on nausea. But the most difficult part was that I had no energy and pushing myself in any way made me extremely sick. Trying to work a 40-hour week brought on symptoms. By Tuesday afternoon, I would feel so nauseous and my head would hurt so severely that all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and hide from the world. Any sort of exercise made me nauseous, faint, and unsteady. Where I had always been able to overcome any obstacle, I was running into a brick wall. Of course, colleagues and those medical personal unfamiliar with head injury all believed that I could get better if I wanted to, that this was all psychosomatic. But I had a sense that circulation or something was being blocked, so I kept looking for someone who could help. I first saw Dr. Elster in June. My x-rays showed that my top vertebrae were out of alignment. Having it adjusted made all the difference-- and my last adjustment held for 2 months. I am myself again. Exercise feels like it used to-- it brings me energy rather than draining it. I can balance career and home, and go to a restaurant, and see friends, all in the same week. I can't tell you how much it makes me smile to say this." Tania, age 28, November '97

Male, Age 34 years, Head Injury, Whiplash, Headaches, Sleep Disorder, Fatigue
This 34-year-old male suffered a head injury during an auto accident in which he was rear-ended at 50mph. He described severe pain in his neck and back and headaches that originated at the base of his skull and spread to his left eye. His pain was so severe that it prevented him from sleeping, so he suffered from severe fatigue. To maintain some level of function during the day, he relied on multiple caffeinated beverages such as jolt or bull colas and/or coffee. At the time of his initial upper cervical chiropractic evaluation (14 months after the accident), he had been suffering with all of the above symptoms for over a year. He had sought help from numerous practitioners including physicians, neurologists, and therapists, to no avail. He reported receiving some temporary relief from Pilates.

During his evaluation, an upper cervical injury was discovered, which had likely been caused by his auto accident. After the first month of care, be began to notice less pain and a slightly better ability to sleep. By the third month of care, he was reporting a larger reduction in pain levels, which was enabling him to resume exercising. After six months, all pain was absent, normal sleep was resumed, and he was able to partcipate in all previous activities and sports, including working full-time.

Female, Age 52 years, Migraine Headaches, Neck Pain, Whiplash, Head Injury
This 52-year-old female was involved in two auto accidents three years apart. The first accident (she was rearended) caused migraines, neck pain, and head injury symptoms, including insomnia, depression, memory loss, and inability to multi-task. These symptoms were worsened after her second auto accident in which she was also rearended. She tried multiple therapies including physical therapy, chiropractic care, cranial sacral therapy, as well as medications from her neurologist but she could hardly function due to severity of her cognitive symptoms and pain.

During her initial upper cervical chiropractic evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered that had not been addressed by her previous practitioners. After the first upper cervical correction, she noticed that her migraines lessened. After two weeks of care, she reported noticing she was "in a better mood, had more patience, and was less grumpy". By the second month of care, migraines were greatly reduced and many of her cognitive symptoms were noticeably better. She reported sleeping better, having better energy, having a clear head to go about her daily tasks, experiencing an improved mood, and noticing excellent concentration. By the end of four months of care, she routinely reported feeling "excellently" and had few migraines and few cognitive symptoms.

Female, Age 14 years, Headaches, Weight Loss, Fevers, Backaches
This 14-year-old female was involved in two different accidents seven years prior and had suffered with numerous health problems since. At age 7, during the spring skiing season, she ran into a tree (without wearing a helmet) and sustained a concussion. During the fall of that same year, she fell off of the monkey bars and sustained another concussion. Following the second concussion, she began experiencing frequent headches. Eventually they worsened until they occurred constantly on a daily basis. Shortly thereafter, she experienced sudden unexplained weight loss where she lost 15 pounds. She also suffered from a constant fever for 40 straight days, which eventually lessened into occassional, unexplained fevers. In addition, she began having frequent back and hip pain, which prevented her from participating in sports she enjoyed. She also noticed her school work began to suffer where she previously had been an "A" student.

During her initial evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered, which was likely caused by one or both of the accidents that had also caused concussions. After the first upper cervical adjustment, she reported noticing her head and neck pain and her fever easing. After several weeks of care, she reported that her back and hip pain and her cognitive abilities were also improving. Within a few months, all symptoms were absent and she was able to participate fully in sports and school.

Female, Age 46 years, Head Injury
This 46-year-old female suffered a head injury during a boogie boarding accident approximately two years prior to seeking help from upper cervical care. While boogie boarding, she did a "face plant" in the sand, scraping the skin from her face, and causing bleeding in both eyes. While her face healed, she was left with a "jammed" feeling in her neck, jaw pain, visual problems, and other cognitive symptoms typical of head injury. Her main form of treatment had been cranial sacral therapy, which she reported had helped tremendously with the head injury symptoms, however she had been left with the above mentioned problems.

During her initial upper cervical chiropractic evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered that was probably caused by the boogie boarding accident. After just a few weeks of treatment, all of her neck pain, jaw pain, cognitive symptoms, and visual problems healed. Even her eye glass prescription improved, according to her eye doctor.

Female, Age 27 years, Seizures, Headaches, Neck Pain
This 27-year-old female was involved in a motor vehicle accident, after which she was diagnosed with whiplash, concussion, and brain injury. Shortly after the accident, she developed headaches, seizures, and pain in her neck and was medicated for those symptoms for several years before seeking help from upper cervical care.

During her initial examination, an upper neck injury was discovered, probably stemming from the auto accident. Within three months of upper cervical care, all headaches, seizures, and pain were absent and all medications were discontinued.

Female, Age 51 years, Head Injury, Whiplash
This 51-year-old female was involved in an auto accident in which she was diagnosed with head injury / whiplash. The accident occurred three months prior and her symptoms had been constant ever since. They included daily headaches, nausea, muscle stiffness, jaw pain, mental confusion, memory loss, and personality changes. She had tried osteopathic care and massage but the symptoms continued. Eventually she was referred by a friend for an upper cervical chiropractic evaluation.

During her initial evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered through two diagnostic tests. After the first neck correction, she reported that she felt "more like herself, was in better spirits, and could be around people again". She also stated that she hadn't experienced any headaches or nausea. A week later, she described feeling clear in her head, improvement in her jaw pain, and better energy. All other symptoms had remained absent. Several weeks later, her case was stabilized and all symptoms remained absent.

Female, Age 48 years, Head / Neck Injury
This 48-year-old female was involved in a ski accident three years prior in which another skier ran into her at approximately 15 miles per hour. She sustained head and neck injuries and was unable to work a full week for three years. Before upper cervical care, her complaints included headaches, neck pain, low back and left leg pain, fatigue, mental confusion, and frequent episodes of what she termed "brain shutdown" where she could not function. During her chiropractic examination, an upper cervical injury was found.

After several months of care, she improved substantially. She no longer had periods of brain shutdown and resumed a full workweek. She rarely reported headaches or neck pain. The pain in her low back and leg was completely corrected. Her mental clarity and energy level were much improved.

Male, Age 8 years, Spinal Cord Injury, Loss of Bowel Control
This 8-year-old male fell hard on the school playground hitting his head. He had moments of tingling in his arms and legs when he fell and was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury by his physicians. He also began suffering from loss of bowel control and urgency and found himself rushing to the bathroom multiple times per day to avoid an accident. When the bowel problems continued 6 months later, his mother brought her son in for an upper cervical evaluation upon recommendation by a friend.

During this boy's intial evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered during digital infrared imaging and radiographic diagnostics. Most likely, the severe blow to his head caused the displacement of his skull slightly from his upper neck, injuring his spinal cord and causing the bowel malfunction. After his initial neck correction, normal bowel activity was restored quickly.

Male, Age 6 years, Traumatic Head Injury
This 6-year-old boy suffered a traumatic head injury when a television fell off of a cabinet and landed on his head while he was lying on the floor. The T.V. fell on top of his face causing multiple fractures around his eye. He required multiple surgeries to reconstruct his eye socket and his sinuses. Post-surgery, after the fractures had healed, his mother began to notice that her son's personality and behavior had changed. He also had constant double vision and suffered continuous headaches as a result. They consulted with numerous physicians and neurologists who surmised these symptoms were permanent from the head injury and stated there was nothing they could do.

Upon recommendation from a friend, this mother brought her son in for an upper cervical chiropractic evaluation. An upper neck injury was discovered, most likely stemming from the head trauma. Within a few weeks of care, all double vision and headaches were absent and his mother described his personality as returning to normal.

Female, Age 30 years, Spinal Pain, Concussion, Whiplash
This 30-year-old female suffered two different traumas and was afflicted with spinal pain ever since. The first was a fall on ice in which she hit her head on the pavement and suffered a mild concussion. The second was an auto accident in which she was rear-ended and thrown against the windshield. The spinal pain had been severely hindering her training and performance as a marathon runner. During her initial evaluation, an upper cervical injury was discovered.

After approximately 2 months of upper cervical care, the spinal pain healed and she was able to train and run pain-free. Over a year later, she still trained without pain.


"After a head/neck injury from falling on ice and a rear end collision (where I was thrown into a windshield) two years ago, I suffered from spinal pain and tried chiropractor after chiropractor with minimal results. I was able to continue with my training (marathon running), but with a lot of pain and frustration. After only two weeks in Dr. Elster's care, I felt progress. Being a marathon runner takes its toll on my joints- especially my back. With the adjustments that Dr. Elster has made, my running has improved and I can run without pain! Also, she is training my spine to hold its position so I can continue injury-free!" Tara, age 30, March 1998

Female, Age 35 years, Migraine Headaches, Concussion
This 35-year-old female suffered from migraines for 10 years. She was a professional figure skater and started experiencing headaches after wearing heavy costume headdresses during shows. After discussing her medical history, it was discovered that she had experienced multiple falls on the ice-- one severe one in which she suffered a concussion. Shortly after the concussion, the headaches started. Headaches began to occur on a daily basis with migraines occurring approximately twice per month. The migraines seemed to occur around her menstrual cycle. In addition she suffered frequent neck and back pain. After suffering with headaches for 10 years, she sought help from upper cervical care. During her initial upper cervical exam, an upper neck injury was found-- most likely stemming from her fall on the ice in which she suffered the concussion. After only one month of upper cervical care, all headaches, migraines, neck and back pain were completely gone and never returned.

Female, Age 37 years, Neck Pain, Arm Pain, Headaches, Thumb Pain, Low Back Pain
This 37-year-old female suffered from pain since a fall backwards on a slip & slide 15 years prior, in which she fell flat on her back and suffered a whiplash/concussion. She had constant pain in her neck, back, right arm, right thumb, right sacro-iliac joint, and daily dull headaches ever since. She had been told her pain was due to arthritis so she was prescribed arthritis medication that provided no relief.

During her initial upper cervical chiropractic exam, an upper neck injury was found which most likely stemmed from her fall on the slip & slide. After 3 months of upper cervical care, all pains and headaches were absent.

Female, Age 47 years, Head Injury
This 47-year-old female fainted, fell and hit her head on the bathroom counter, and was rendered unconscious. From this concussion, she suffered some loss of memory and concentration but was still able to go to work, take care of her kids, etc. One year later, she was involved in an auto accident in which she was rear-ended at 35mph. During the impact, her head bounced off the headrest causing a second head injury.

After the auto accident, she was unable to work and had to hire a driver, cook, house cleaner, etc. because she was unable to perform any home chores. She suffered tremendous cognitive disability, constant headaches, constant pain in her spine, inability to sleep, fatigue, and slow speech and handwriting. One year after her accident, she was still disabled and sought help from upper cervical care.

During her examination, an upper neck injury was discovered, which could have stemmed from either one or both of her head traumas. Within two months of care, she was able to resume performing chores at home such as shoveling snow, cleaning, cooking, etc. In addition, her headaches began to subside and her energy level was greatly increased. Within four months of care, she was able to resume working on a part-time basis and was able to balance work and taking care of her children. Six months after beginning upper cervical care, she was able to work full-time and headaches were absent.

Male, Age 22 years, Post-concussion Panic Attacks, Anxiety, Dizzy Spells

This 22-year-old male is a mountain bike racer and extreme skier.  He experienced his first confirmed concussion at age 16 during a mountain bike race when he flew over the handlebars.  He experienced some temporary memory loss but seemed to recover in a few hours.  At age 21, he jumped off a cliff while skiing and hit his face into his knee upon landing.  He reported that he saw stars and felt "weird" at the back of his neck right away.  He was diagnosed with a concussion.  His CT scan and MRI were reported as normal, but within a week he began experiencing daily panic attacks with vertigo.  He saw numerous doctors including neurologists, general chiropractors, psychiatrists, and eye therapists, but his symptoms persisted.  He became increasingly debilitated with the panic attacks and was unable to engage in any of his sports.  Under recommendation from a friend, he sought help from upper cervical chiropractic care.

During his upper cervical chiropractic evaluation, an upper neck injury was discovered.  Undoubtedly, the injury was caused by the skiing incident or by a combination of his various sports traumas.  After receiving treatment, he noticed an immediate decrease in the severity and frequency of the panic / dizziness attacks.  Within a couple of months of treatment, the attacks were gone and he was able to resume biking and skiing.


The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.