Archived Issue - PRAKTIKOS Spring Equinox, 2008

Primum non nocerga Above all, do no harm.

    – from the Hippocratic Oath

A Son Also Rises

On a beautiful spring day, just after school, Dane Borman collapsed on his bedroom floor and nearly died.

The year was 1993 and Dane was only 15 years old, but an artery buried deep in his brain had just ruptured and spilled blood into that sensitive organ.  He immediately experienced a blinding and explosive headache and then began to vomit uncontrollably.

Thankfully he was lucid enough to call his grandmother, and she rushed him to the hospital emergency room.  A CAT scan revealed the presence of a small blood clot near the large arteries that distribute blood to the entire brain.

About half the people who experience such a catastrophic leakage die immediately.  Of the people who survive the initial leak, about half of them die in the next few days as the weakened blood vessel—an aneurysm—breaks again.  This means that more than 75% of the victims are dead within several days.

People die because the brain, like all nerves, is extremely susceptible to any disruption of blood flow. Nerves need a constant flow of blood carrying oxygen and sugar to keep them alive.  Flow interruptions as little as four to five minutes can be lethal.

It was great news that Dane survived the initial break and the artery did not leak again, but he was still in mortal danger.  The blood that had leaked needed to be cleaned up and the resultant damage repaired.  This process of repair was the next problem to be dealt with.

The body’s response to cleaning up a damaged area is familiar to anyone who has sprained an ankle. Injured cells release a chemical called histamine that alerts the body’s defenses about the damage.

Histamine causes the local arteries to dilate and thereby deliver more blood.  This makes the injured area look red and feel hot. Histamine also causes the capillary pores to open up so that the specialized white blood cells can get to the problem area.  As a result, the area begins to swell.  We have all witnessed a sprained ankle turn red, get hot, and grow to the size of a grapefruit as the healing process begins.

The trouble that now confronted Dane was that the brain is encased in a protective boney casing called the skull.  Of course, the skull typically acts as a protector of the delicate nerve structures it houses.  But since damage had occurred deep in the brain, the skull’s strength and rigidity had become a liability.

As an injured ankle swells outward, it releases internal pressure allowing the blood vessels to continue to function.  Because the skull stops all outward expansion of the brain, pressure builds up internally.

This pressure buildup can collapse the veins that would normally act to drain the growing swelling and pressure.  If the veins become collapsed, they can limit the delivery of essential items like oxygen and sugar.

In the early stages of the injury cycle, a strong irritation of the nerves leaves them overly excitable. This is why Dane collapsed with a headache and vomiting.  If the pressure continues to rise, there is a drop off of nerve excitability and the brain sinks into coma and eventual death.

Actually, at Dr. Borman and Associates, we work with this same phenomenon everyday in our chiropractic offices.  The spinal nerves are also encased in an outer boney shell called the spine.  Any swelling inside this housing affects nerve function, leaving them overly excitable, just as it did in Dane's brain.

We work with swollen areas of the spine.  Such swelling is not caused by a broken artery as in Dane's case.  The swelling is secondary to mechanical injury to the spine.  This swelling within the spine and the neurological over-excitability are what causes the sharp pains and muscle spasms that we treat everyday. This is why we are so focused on reducing swelling.

On day one of treatment, all patients are given two highly effective methods to begin reducing their swelling and speed their healing.  We provide an ice pack and instructions on where and how to use it over the spine in order to reduce internal swelling.  Each patient is also encouraged take a daily walk.  The rhythmic muscular contraction created by walking is a great way to pump the swelling away by activating the lymphatic drainage system.

If you find yourself suffering from pain, tingling, or muscle spasm, be not afraid.  These symptoms indicate that the internal swelling around the spinal nerves has only acted to irritate and excite them. This level of injury is highly amenable to our gentle and effective techniques of reducing swelling and then eliminating the causes of the original injury.

You already know how we pay attention to the swelling problems in order to quickly take pressure off the sensitive nerves.  But the best part about what we do is how we adjust your spinal problem areas in a novel and exciting way.

In the past, this adjustment was accomplished through a quick, scary, and sometimes, inadvertently traumatic movement called a thrust or a pop.  We have instead been using a slow and steady, specific stretching technique for more than 25 years.

This gentle and relaxing style of adjusting takes the fear out of moving vertebrae back to their proper positions and re-establishing normal motion.  The slower pressures that we exert on the spine also avoid any secondary trauma that might lead to further swelling and pain.

In the same way, Dane eventually healed from his injury.  Further tests revealed that he did not have an aneurysm in his artery but rather had suffered a traumatic one-time event caused by bodysurfing in Hawaii the prior week.  This meant that Dane would not need to be further traumatized by invasive brain surgery to fix an aneurysm.

As the blood leak was finally resolved by Dane's innate healing abilities, he began to feel better and soon returned to high school fully recovered.  In fact, he recovered so completely that he graduated from CSU in Ft. Collins and then attended Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Oregon.  He graduated co-valedictorian of his class in December of 2004.  Upon graduation with his Doctor of Chiropractic degree he entered a post-doctoral program in radiology at his alma mater.

He is now poised to join his father, Robert, and Uncle Bill in Denver as a hands-on chiropractor. He will, of course, be using the same gentle techniques to fix spinal problems and reduce swelling that we use. He will also be adding a new perspective and expertise that will doubtless improve our work.

This is great news for Robert and Bill and all our patients.  The word of mouth advertising about our new methods and approach has loaded the books with so many happy, satisfied patients that it has become difficult to get in for a treatment.  Dane, we can't wait for you to get here.  Welcome!