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Why Brian Hoyer believes acupuncture helps concussion recovery

HOUSTON -- Houston Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer's wife, Lauren, was pregnant with their first child when they first encountered acupuncture.

Their now three-year-old son Garrett was breech at 36 weeks and the doctor said she would likely have to have a C-section. To avoid that she looked up alternative treatments. Acupuncture was one.

"We went up to this woman doctor, she put the needles in," Hoyer said. "They lit some roots and burned it. They had like yoga music on. I literally watched my wife’s stomach shift."

The next day they went back to the obstetrician. Hoyer said the baby had turned.

"Once I saw that, I believed acupuncture can do anything," Hoyer said.

He has tried acupuncture to treat both of the concussions he's had this season. Hoyer said it has helped. He also uses a hyperbaric chamber and has tried an app called Brain Headquarters, which has mental games that are supposed to help concussion recovery.

Healing from concussions is still a very inexact science without a lot of concrete data.

"A lot of the things we find patients doing and physicians recommending are more to treat the symptoms rather than underlying cause," said Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, a neurologist who is the executive director of The Sports Neurology Clinic, when asked a question about Hoyer’s use of acupuncture. "I try to be very specific about that, because the idea that something that makes your headache better or improve[s] neck stiffness or dizziness or some other aspect of concussion may not, or probably is not addressing the injury itself."

Kutcher said it's possible brain exercises can help, but there isn't a lot of clear data there, either.

Hoyer is still in the concussion protocol, but he held a news conference today after he was cleared to practice. He has not yet been cleared to play.