Links for Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion

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By KEN BELSON Football players as young as 7 sustain hits to the head comparable in magnitude to those absorbed by high school and adult players, and most of the hits are sustained in practices, not games, according to research to be released Wednesday. The findings, which may influence how youth football organizations handle training methods and rules, were included in four studies published by researchers at the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. The research, though limited, is considered by experts to be a step in the effort to address the relatively shallow understanding of the potential long-term effects of head trauma on young players. More than 25,000 football players from 8 to 19 years old are taken to emergency rooms seeking treatment for concussions every year, but most of the research on head injuries in football has focused on professional and college players. The new research, which was presented at the annual Biomedical Engineering Society conference this week, tracked about 120 players in Virginia and North Carolina from 7 to 18 over two seasons. Each young athlete wore six devices, known as accelerometers, in their helmets to measure the force, position and direction of the hits, and every practice and game was videotaped to determine how they occurred. To help determine any changes in brain structure and function, many of the players received magnetic resonance imaging brain scans before and after the season, and after they sustained a concussion. Some players also received magnetoencephalography scans, or MEG scans, to map their brain activity. © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18698 - Posted: 09.25.2013

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS The start this month of high school and college football seasons across the country renews concerns about the issue of repeated head impacts and how to manage or, preferably, avoid concussions. Unfortunately, the resources to deal with the problem remain limited. Newly released, state-of-the-art football helmets, for instance, may measure how much force each player’s head is absorbing and relay that data via telemetry to trainers on the sidelines, but at $1,500 or so per helmet, they are unattainable for most teams. Which is why a study published recently in The British Journal of Sports Medicine is so appealing. Eminently practical, it offers a means by which any team, no matter how small or cash-strapped, can assess the likelihood of one of its players having sustained an on-field concussion. It also celebrates a nifty, D.I.Y., MacGyver-ish sensibility rarely seen in our technology-obsessed times. The study’s authors began with the simple idea that, to manage sports-related concussions, “you need to be able to quickly and easily assess” whether a given player has actually sustained one, said Steven P. Broglio, director of the University of Michigan’s NeuroSport Research Laboratory and co-author of the study. Not every head impact results in a concussion. One means of assessing concussion status, Dr. Broglio continued, is to look at a player’s reaction time, since it is known to increase immediately after a concussion. A variety of scientifically validated tools exist to measure players’ reaction times, but most require a computer and sophisticated software, and are not practicable on the sidelines or in the budgets of many teams. Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18512 - Posted: 08.15.2013

The author of a new six-step plan for Canadian doctors treating concussion patients warns that many people are unaware you don't need to hit your head to get a concussion. Dr. Charles Tator of the neurosurgery division at the University of Toronto wrote in Monday's Canadian Medical Association And for doctors and other trained health professionals in remote regions who have the responsibility for diagnosing concussions, Tator's primer summarizes how to detect and assess the injury. Concussions are the most common traumatic brain injury, often occurring during vehicle collisions, work activities, sports, recreation and falls in seniors. Females may be more prone to concussion than males, said Dr. Charles Tator.Females may be more prone to concussion than males, said Dr. Charles Tator. (CBC) It's now clear concussion can occur without direct impact to the head. For instance, a blow to the chest can cause a whiplash effect on the brain that jiggles the organ. Everyone who is involved in sports should be aware of the importance of recognizing concussions, he said. The most frequent symptoms are headache, dizziness, nausea and imbalance. Only one symptom is needed for the diagnosis. "The importance of accurate and timely recognition and management stems from the consequences of misdiagnosis or faulty management that can lead to major disability or death, in both the short and long term," Tator wrote. © CBC 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 18397 - Posted: 07.23.2013

The prevalence of traumatic brain injuries such as concussions among students points to a silent epidemic that demands a wake-up call from parents, coaches and other adults, Canadian neurosurgeons and psychologists say. One in five students in grades 7 to 12 said they’d had a traumatic brain injury that left them unconscious for at least five minutes or required a hospital stay overnight after symptoms, researchers said in Wednesday’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The researchers from St. Michael's Hospital and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto surveyed 8,915 students across Ontario in 2011 as part of one of the longest ongoing school surveys in the world. "It needs to be a wake-up call to say, look, young people are sustaining brain injuries at a very high rate,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital. "If we want to protect future generations, because our brain really defines how we are … not just as an individual, we need to do something collectively as a society to address this problem." Of the 464 students reporting a traumatic brain injury in the past 12 months, sports injuries accounted for more than half of the cases, 56 per cent, particularly for boys. Concussions that didn't lead to loss of consciousness or a hospital stay weren't included. © CBC 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18314 - Posted: 06.26.2013

By Nathan Seppa Soccer players who hit the ball with their head a lot don’t score as well on a memory test as players who head the ball less often, a new study finds. Frequent headers are also associated with abnormalities in the white matter of the brain, researchers report June 11 in Radiology. “These changes are subtle,” says Inga Koerte, a radiologist at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “But you don’t need a concussive trauma to get changes in the microstructure of your brain.” While soccer players can get concussions from colliding with goal posts, the ground or each other, concussions are uncommon from heading the ball, even though it can move at 80 kilometers per hour, says coauthor Michael Lipton, a neuroradiologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. He and his colleagues took magnetic resonance imaging scans of 28 men and nine women who played amateur soccer. The players, with an average age of 31, tallied up their games and practice sessions in the previous year and estimated how many headers they had done in each. Most players headed the ball hundreds of times; some hit thousands of headers. The MRIs revealed brain abnormalities in some players, mainly in the white matter of three regions of the brain. White matter coats nerve fibers, and bundles of fibers cross and converge in the three regions. But the areas aren’t associated with a single function, Lipton says. Attention, memory, sensory inputs and visual and spatial functions could all be processed there. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18266 - Posted: 06.13.2013

By Tara Haelle A long overdue and growing body of research on concussions is providing today’s young athletes, parents and coaches with more information about identifying and treating head injuries—but not all of that research is reliable. For instance, one new study on youth concussions offers valuable information about recovery time, whereas potentially flawed conclusions in a second new study illustrate one of the biggest challenges in studying youth concussions—missed diagnoses. An estimated 170,000 children go to the emergency room for concussions annually, but this number does not capture the millions treated outside of hospitals by athletic trainers, family doctors or specialists. The sports with the most reported concussions are boys’ football and girls’ soccer, but bicycling, basketball and playground activities are also among the most common ways children sustain these head injuries. Symptoms can include dizziness, fatigue, nausea, headache and memory or concentration problems. After a concussion is identified, the primary treatment is physical and cognitive rest, although the amount of rest needed is not always medically clear. The first study, published June 10 in Pediatrics, found that recovery takes up to two or three times longer if a child has sustained one or more concussions within the past year, further supporting reasons “to be cautious about returning young athletes to sports after a concussion,” says lead author Matthew A. Eisenberg of Boston Children’s Hospital. Eisenberg’s study notes. © 2013 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 18252 - Posted: 06.10.2013

By BILL PENNINGTON BOSTON — The drumbeat of alarming stories linking concussions among football players and other athletes to brain disease has led to a new and mushrooming American phenomenon: the specialized youth sports concussion clinic, which one day may be as common as a mall at the edge of town. In the last three years, dozens of youth concussion clinics have opened in nearly 35 states — outpatient centers often connected to large hospitals that are now filled with young athletes complaining of headaches, amnesia, dizziness or problems concentrating. The proliferation of clinics, however, comes at a time when there is still no agreed-upon, established formula for treating the injuries. “It is inexact, a science in its infancy,” said Dr. Michael O’Brien of the sports concussion clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital. “We know much more than we once did, but there are lots of layers we still need to figure out.” Deep concern among parents about the effects of concussions is colliding with the imprecise understanding of the injury. To families whose anxiety has been stoked by reports of former N.F.L. players with degenerative brain disease, the new facilities are seen as the most expert care available. That has parents parading to the clinic waiting rooms. The trend is playing out vividly in Boston, where the phone hardly stops ringing at the youth sports concussion clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Parents call saying, ‘I saw a scary report about concussions on Oprah or on the ‘Doctors’ show or Katie Couric’s show,’ ” Dr. Barbara Semakula said, describing a typical day at the clinic. “Their child just hurt his head, and they’ve already leapt to the worst possible scenarios. It’s a little bit of a frenzy out there.” © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18121 - Posted: 05.06.2013

Coaches should pull athletes with a suspected head injury immediately until a health professional trained in concussions checks them out, according to new medical guidelines. The American Academy of Neurology updated its guidelines on Monday for evaluating and managing athletes with concussion. It’s the group's first update since 1997. Demonstration of a test with patients that have suffered concussions. It's likely that concussion risk is greater for female athletes playing soccer, according to new guidelines.Demonstration of a test with patients that have suffered concussions. It's likely that concussion risk is greater for female athletes playing soccer, according to new guidelines. (Keith Srakocic/Associated Press) "If in doubt, sit it out," said Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher with the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor and a member of the academy, in a release. "Being seen by a trained professional is extremely important after a concussion. If headaches or other symptoms return with the start of exercise, stop the activity and consult a doctor. You only get one brain; treat it well." Players should return to the rink, field or pitch slowly and only after acute signs and symptoms, such as headache, sensitivity to light and sound or changes in memory and judgment, are gone. For ice hockey, the guidelines said bodychecking is likely to increase the risk of sport-related concussion. In peewee hockey, bodychecking is likely to be a risk factor for a more severe concussion that prolongs the return to play. © CBC 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 17917 - Posted: 03.19.2013

By JEFF Z. KLEIN For the last two seasons, concussions and hits to the head were frequent talking points in the N.H.L., with the Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby serving as the catalyst. As the lockout dragged on for more than four months, though, the conversation shifted from player safety to revenue percentages and competitive balance. The first few weeks of the shortened 48-game season passed without much talk of concussions. But in the past two weeks, 11 N.H.L. players are believed to have sustained them, among them Crosby’s teammate and the reigning most valuable player, Evgeni Malkin, thrusting the issue of head injuries back into the spotlight. Concussions continue to plague the league, despite its increased emphasis on reducing them. For the second season, the N.H.L. is playing under its broadened version of Rule 48, which penalizes hits that target an opponent’s head or make the head the principal point of contact. But many of the recent injuries, including Malkin’s, were not caused by hits deemed worthy of fines or suspensions. Last season, according to CBC network estimates, about 90 players missed games because of concussions, about 13 percent of N.H.L. players on active rosters on a given night. Crosby missed 60 games while recovering from a concussion he sustained in the 2011 Winter Classic. Malkin, who has 4 goals and 17 assists in 18 games this season, received a concussion diagnosis Sunday, two days after he fell awkwardly into the end boards following a routine shove from Florida’s Erik Gudbranson. Malkin slid back-first into the boards, causing his head to snap sharply backward and strike the boards. © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 17855 - Posted: 02.27.2013

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS Recently, researchers from the department of sport science at the University of Innsbruck in Austria stood on the slopes at a local ski resort and trained a radar gun on a group of about 500 skiers and snowboarders, each of whom had completed a lengthy personality questionnaire about whether he or she tended to be cautious or a risk taker. The researchers had asked their volunteers to wear their normal ski gear and schuss or ride down the slopes at their preferred speed. Although they hadn’t informed the volunteers, their primary aim was to determine whether wearing a helmet increased people’s willingness to take risks, in which case helmets could actually decrease safety on the slopes. What they found was reassuring. To many of us who hit the slopes with, in my case, literal regularity — I’m an ungainly novice snowboarder — the value of wearing a helmet can seem self-evident. They protect your head from severe injury. During the Big Air finals at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo., this past weekend, for instance, 23-year-old Icelandic snowboarder Halldor Helgason over-rotated on a triple back flip, landed head-first on the snow, and was briefly knocked unconscious. But like the other competitors he was wearing a helmet, and didn’t fracture his skull. Indeed, studies have concluded that helmets reduce the risk of a serious head injury by as much as 60 percent. But a surprising number of safety experts and snowsport enthusiasts remain unconvinced that helmets reduce overall injury risk. Why? A telling 2009 survey of ski patrollers from across the country found that 77 percent did not wear helmets because they worried that the headgear could reduce their peripheral vision, hearing and response times, making them slower and clumsier. In addition, many worried that if they wore helmets, less-adept skiers and snowboarders might do likewise, feel invulnerable and engage in riskier behavior on the slopes. Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 17739 - Posted: 01.30.2013

By BENJAMIN HOFFMAN NEW ORLEANS — It has become a staple of Super Bowl week, as much a part of the pregame to the N.F.L.’s biggest event as the annual media day: a discussion of how football is being affected by head injuries and the mounting evidence that long-term brain damage can be linked to injuries sustained on the field. Years ago, players rarely spoke about the issue and league officials dismissed suggestions that on-field injuries could lead to life-altering health problems. Now, however, the league is facing lawsuits from thousands of former players, rules are being instituted in an attempt to diminish injuries on the field and even President Obama has said that the way football is played will have to change. This week, Bernard Pollard, a hard-hitting safety for the Baltimore Ravens, created a stir by saying that the N.F.L. would not exist in 30 years because of the rules changes designed with safety in mind, but that he also believed there would be a death on the field at some point. At media day Tuesday, players reacted to the comments made by Pollard and Obama, with some agreeing with Pollard that recent rules changes would change the sport to such an extent that it would be less entertaining and lead to a loss of popularity. Pollard stood by his comments. He added, however, that while he was comfortable with the physical risk he was taking by playing football, he was not sure he would want future generations, including his 4-year-old son, to follow his example. “My whole stance right now is that I don’t want him to play football,” Pollard said. “Football has been good to me. It has been my outlet. God has blessed me with a tremendous talent to be able to play this game. But we want our kids to have things better than us.” He said he did not want his son to go through the aches and pains caused by the physicality of the game. © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 17738 - Posted: 01.30.2013

By Lisa Flam A New Hampshire toddler who suffered a nightmarish injury when a pencil impaled her eye and became lodged in her head was saved by a remarkable turn of good fortune: The pencil that penetrated deep into her brain took a near-perfect path that left her virtually unscathed. The girl, 20-month-old Olivia Smith, survived not only the pencil’s pushing through her brain, but also its painstaking and dangerous, yet flawless removal at Boston Children’s Hospital, where the pencil was slowly pulled out by hand earlier this month. “It’s beyond belief how lucky she was,” said one of her doctors, Dr. Darren Orbach. “Her prognosis is great. I would expect her to be a normal kid at this point.” Olivia’s improbable tale began on Jan. 6, when she was coloring at home in New Boston, N.H., lost her balance and fell onto the pencil, said Orbach, chief of interventional and neurointerventional radiology at Children’s. When her mother picked her up to comfort her, she saw a small piece of the orange colored pencil sticking out from her right eye. “I thought the pencil had broken or something,” Olivia’s mother, Susie Smith, told NBC affiliate WHDH. “I thought there was no way that whole pencil was through her head.” © 2013 NBCNews.com

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17726 - Posted: 01.29.2013

By BRETT MICHAEL DYKES JEFFERSON, La. — “He liked to hit people,” Carlene Dempsey said flatly. “He didn’t care if he got his bell rung.” She was referring to her Falstaffian husband, Tom Dempsey, the former N.F.L. kicker born without toes on his right foot who in November 1970 — after a long night of drinking and debauchery in the French Quarter of New Orleans — set the league record for the longest field goal in a regular-season game. The 63-yard kick lifted the New Orleans Saints to a 19-17 victory over the Detroit Lions, and in the process helped transform Dempsey into a folk hero in the city hosting the Super Bowl on Sunday, the rare Saints player to hold a prominent N.F.L. record before the Sean Payton era. Now 66, Dempsey sat recently with his wife at the dining room table in the modest 1,500-square-foot home they share with their daughter, Ashley, and their grandson, Dylan, in this New Orleans suburb. It quickly became apparent that when reflecting upon his football career, Dempsey seemed to take more delight discussing the hits he had delivered than the kicks he had made. He wistfully recalled how, in high school and college, if his coaches wanted someone on the opposing team knocked out, they usually called on him to deliver a teeth-rattling hit. And his eyes twinkled with glee when he talked about how the coaches he played for over the course of his 10-year N.F.L. career with the Saints, the Eagles, the Rams, the Oilers and the Bills would sometimes call on him to be the wedge buster — football’s version of a kamikaze pilot — on kickoffs. “I would hit anybody,” Dempsey boasted, echoing the sentiment of Carlene, his wife of more than 40 years. “I didn’t care.” © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 17721 - Posted: 01.28.2013

By MARY PILON and KEN BELSON The former N.F.L. linebacker Junior Seau had a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma when he committed suicide in the spring, the National Institutes of Health said Thursday. The findings were consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease widely connected to athletes who have absorbed frequent blows to the head, the N.I.H. said in a statement. Seau is the latest and most prominent player to be associated with the disease, which has bedeviled football in recent years as a proliferation of studies has exposed the possible long-term cognitive impact of head injuries sustained on the field. “The type of findings seen in Mr. Seau’s brain have been recently reported in autopsies of individuals with exposure to repetitive head injury,” the N.I.H. said, “including professional and amateur athletes who played contact sports, individuals with multiple concussions, and veterans exposed to blast injury and other trauma.” Since C.T.E. was diagnosed in the brain of the former Eagles defensive back Andre Waters after his suicide in 2006, the disease has been found in nearly every former player whose brain was examined posthumously. (C.T.E. can be diagnosed only posthumously.) Researchers at Boston University, who pioneered the study of C.T.E., have found it in 33 of the 34 brains of former N.F.L. players they have examined. The N.I.H. began its examination of Seau’s brain tissue in July. In addition to being reviewed by two federal neuropathologists, Seau’s brain was reviewed by three outside neuropathology experts who did not have knowledge of the source of the tissue. Upon initial examination “the brain looked normal,” according to the N.I.H. It was not until doctors looked under the microscope and used staining techniques that the C.T.E. abnormalities were seen. © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 17668 - Posted: 01.12.2013

By KEN BELSON The growing evidence of a link between head trauma and long-term, degenerative brain disease was amplified in an extensive study of athletes, military veterans and others who absorbed repeated hits to the head, according to new findings published in the scientific journal Brain. The study, which included brain samples taken posthumously from 85 people who had histories of repeated mild traumatic brain injury, added to the mounting body of research revealing the possible consequences of routine hits to the head in sports like football and hockey. The possibility that such mild head trauma could result in long-term cognitive impairment has come to vex sports officials, team doctors, athletes and parents in recent years. Of the group of 85 people, 80 percent (68 men) — nearly all of whom played sports — showed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a degenerative and incurable disease whose symptoms can include memory loss, depression and dementia. Among the group found to have C.T.E., 50 were football players, including 33 who played in the N.F.L. Among them were stars like Dave Duerson, Cookie Gilchrist and John Mackey. Many of the players were linemen and running backs, positions that tend to have more contact with opponents. Six high school football players, nine college football players, seven pro boxers and four N.H.L. players, including Derek Boogaard, the former hockey enforcer who died from an accidental overdose of alcohol and painkillers, also showed signs of C.T.E. The study also included 21 veterans, most of whom were also athletes, who showed signs of C.T.E. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 17565 - Posted: 12.03.2012

By ANNE EISENBERG FOOTBALL teams of the future — even high school squads on limited budgets — may someday have a new tool to check players for brain injuries. It’s a special form of headgear, packed with sensors that read the brain waves of athletes after they come off the field, thus detecting changes caused by the trauma of hard knocks. The compact, portable sensors decipher neural activity by measuring changes in the brain’s tiny magnetic field. These small magnetometers — still in the laboratory and in prototype — have yet to be tried on athletes. But their potential is enormous for brain imaging and for inexpensive monitoring of brain diseases, as well as for many other applications like the control of prosthetics, said Dr. José Luis Contreras-Vidal, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston. Dr. Contreras-Vidal’s research includes work on a system that will use brain signals to control prosthetic legs. “This is a transformative technology” that could make brain interfaces available at a small cost, he said. “We could potentially use these devices to record in real time brain waves that could be analyzed for specific diseases such as Alzheimer’s, or the progression of these diseases.” The research is occurring at a time of growing concern about collisions and subsequent brain injuries in sports — and the dire effects that may show up only many years later. But an inexpensive system for spotting changes in brain behavior could play an important safety role one day in boxing, football and many other sports. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 17207 - Posted: 08.27.2012

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS Much has been studied and reported, particularly in this newspaper, about the short-term effects of concussions on young athletes, as well as the potential longer-term outcomes for professional athletes who engage in high-level contact sports like football and ice hockey for many years, putting themselves at risk for multiple concussions and the lesser but still consequential subconcussive injuries. But until recently, far less has been understood about the long-term implications, if any, of concussions experienced years ago by recreational athletes. Does a 55-year-old man who played high school football in the ’70s and perhaps grew dizzy or “had his bell rung” after a tackle or two need to worry about the state of his brain today, even if he never had a formal diagnosis of concussion? Or do I, because I bounced my head hard against the slopes several times while learning to snowboard 10 years ago? The emerging answer, according to recent research, would seem to be a cautious “probably not,” although there may be reason to monitor how easily names and places come to mind. For a study published in May in the journal Cerebral Cortex, researchers at the University of Montreal examined the brains of a group of healthy, middle-aged former athletes, all of whom had played contact sports in college about 30 years ago and some of whom had sustained concussions while doing so. In the years since, the athletes had stopped competing but had remained physically active. None complained of failing memories or other symptoms of cognitive impairment — or at least, not more so than any group of 50- and 60-year-olds would be expected to complain. Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 17029 - Posted: 07.12.2012

By Jillian Eugenios Yasel Lopez, 16, was fishing with a friend in Miami when their three-foot spear gun went off unexpectedly, piercing Lopez through his head. Doctors are calling his survival from the accident, nearly two weeks ago, a miracle. The gun went off unexpectedly when the teenagers were loading it with a spear, sending it straight into Lopez's skull, Tamron Hall reported on TODAY Monday. The force of the impact was so strong it knocked him into the water. Acting quickly, his friend called 911 and Lopez was soon airlifted to Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital where doctors raced to save him. Doctors revealed details Monday about Lopez's ordeal, and how they worked to save his life. “We used a high-speed drill to drill the bone at either end to create an opening through which we could remove the spear,” one of the doctors told reporters. They first had to cut the spear to prevent it from moving and allow doctors to do tests. After the spear was cut, doctors said they were able to plan the surgery: “We were able to position him laying with his left side down, right side up, and then we were able to open a large incision." Dr. George Garcia, who helped to save Lopez's life, said that Lopez was awake and interacting with hospital staff when he arrived, though he became agitated and panicky. “We didn't know if that was a result of the injury to his brain or if he was just scared or in a lot of pain.” Dr. Garcia said that that the fact that Lopez was lucid throughout gave the doctors confidence the teenager would survive. © 2012 msnbc.com

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 16938 - Posted: 06.20.2012

By DAVID TULLER Late one evening last December, 18-year-old Michelle Vaquero was crossing a busy street in San Jose, Calif., when a car slammed into her. She landed more than 30 feet away. An ambulance rushed her to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, where doctors diagnosed traumatic brain injury. Miriam Richards, Ms. Vaquero’s mother, said that doctors at first offered little cause for optimism. “The impact was so severe that they didn’t give us any hope,” she said. “They didn’t tell us she’d be fine. They didn’t know how bad it was.” Ms. Vaquero has been steadily recovering since the accident, and there is reason for Ms. Richards to hope that progress will continue. Shortly after she arrived at the hospital, Ms. Vaquero was enrolled in a study examining whether a surprising new treatment could minimize the damage to her brain: a three-day infusion of progesterone, the reproductive hormone. The study, financed by the National Institutes of Health and overseen by Emory University in Atlanta, is designed to test the hypothesis that the hormone can reduce mortality and disability if administered right after a traumatic brain injury. Patients must begin the infusion within four hours of the injury, with outcomes assessed after six months. The study is one of two large trials of progesterone that have generated excitement among doctors because no medications have been approved for preventing the worst outcomes associated with serious brain injuries. Dr. David Gordon, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx who is not involved in the research, said that he has “some measure of cautious optimism” about progesterone. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 16933 - Posted: 06.19.2012

By Bill Briggs I had done all my crying weeks before. But pacing a hospital hallway -- as nurses changed the diapers of my silent, blank-faced, 20-year-old daughter in the room behind me -- I asked my wife for a hug. I don’t request many. I try to give more hugs than I get. But that August night, I yearned for the blonde girl lying in the bed 20 feet away, a respiration machine blowing oxygen through a hole cut into her trachea. Advertise | AdChoices “I miss her voice. I miss her laugh,” I told Nancy -- my wife and Andrea’s stepmom -- as she wrapped her arms around me. “I really just miss Andrea.” One month earlier, on July 26, my cell phone rang as I gobbled a final forkful of dinner in my living room. I didn’t recognize the number. A somber woman asked if I was the father of Andrea Briggs and told me, flatly, that Andrea was in a nearby hospital. Now standing, my knees flinched. I held a corner of my desk for support as I peppered the woman with urgent questions that she wouldn’t answer. “Is she alive? Can you just please tell me if my daughter is alive?” I demanded, my voice rising. “She is in very critical condition,” the woman said. “Come to Denver Health Medical Center as soon as possible.” The nauseous pang in my stomach blended with a strange, detached numbness and I felt like I was walking in someone else’s body. I grabbed my car keys, fully believing I was on my way to say goodbye to my only child. © 2012 msnbc.com

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 16915 - Posted: 06.16.2012