Links for Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to our mailing list, to receive news updates. Learn more.


Links 61 - 80 of 195

By BENEDICT CAREY Daily doses of a drug used to treat Parkinson’s disease significantly improved function in severely brain-injured people thought to be beyond the reach of treatment, scientists reported on Wednesday, providing the first rigorous evidence to date that any therapy reliably helps such patients. The improvements were modest, experts said, and hardly amounted to a cure, or a quick means of “waking up” someone who has long been unresponsive. But the progress was meaningful, experts said, and, if replicated, would give rehabilitation doctors something they have never had: a standard treatment for injuries that are not at all standard or predictable in the ways they affect the brain. Some 50,000 to 100,000 Americans live in states of partial consciousness, and perhaps 15,000 in an unresponsive “vegetative” condition. According to the Department of Defense, more than 6,000 veterans have had severe brain injuries since 2000 and would potentially benefit from this therapy. The new report, appearing in The New England Journal of Medicine, gives doctors a solid basis to address such injuries, if not yet a predictable outcome. “This study puts the traumatic brain injury field on the first step of the ladder to developing scientific treatments. We’ve been trying to get there for a long time,” said Dr. Ramon Diaz-Arrastia, director of clinical research at the Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Rockville, Md., who was not involved in the research. “And there’s no reason to doubt that this therapy would also be effective in people with less severe brain injuries” than in the study. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 16461 - Posted: 03.01.2012

by Sheila Eldred Football players as young as 7 years old sustained an average of 107 hits per player during a single season, the first study to analyze head impact exposure in youth football shows. The hardest of the hits came during practice, not games. The study, published in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering, analyzed just seven kids, but the findings helped secure funding for a much larger study announced this week. Head impact exposure in high school and college athletes has been well documented. While this study suggests that youth football players sustain less frequent hits, the level of acceleration can reach the same level measured in adults -- which is high enough to cause concussions. "This new study for 2012 allows for a dramatically increased sample size [approximately 50,000 head impacts will likely be recorded] and head exposure mapping for all age groups,” said Stefan Duma, department head of the Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, which directs the project. To study the biomechanics of impacts, researchers will use medical imaging protocols combined with brain computer modeling. The initial study also led to the development of the National Impact Database, containing the first safety rating system for adult football helmets. © 2012 Discovery Communications, LLC.

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: 16439 - Posted: 02.27.2012

By Katherine Harmon A car accident, a rough tackle, an unexpected tumble. The number of ways to bang up the brain are almost as numerous as the people who sustain these injuries. And only recently has it become clear just how damaging a seemingly minor knock can be. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is no longer just a condition acknowledged in military personnel or football players and other professional athletes. Each year some 1.7 million civilians will suffer an injury that disrupts the function of their brains, qualifying it as a TBI. About 8.5 percent of U.S. non-incarcerated adults have a history of TBI, and about 2 percent of the greater population is currently suffering from some sort of disability because of their injury. In prisons, however, approximately 60 percent of adults have had at least one TBI—and even higher prevalence has been reported in some systems. These injuries, which can alter behavior, emotion and impulse control, can keep prisoners behind bars longer and increases the odds they will end up there again. Although the majority of people who suffer a TBI will not end up in the criminal justice system, each one who does costs states an average of $29,000 a year. With more than two million people in the U.S. currently locked up—and millions more lingering in the justice system on probation or supervision—the widespread issue of TBI in prison populations is starting to gain wider attention. © 2012 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: 16344 - Posted: 02.06.2012

By Gary Stix Concussion, the most common among traumatic brain injuries, which occurs 1.7 million times a year in the U.S., represents a major public-health problem. It occurs when there is a sudden acceleration or deceleration of the head, a process depicted here in this animation. A blow can produce a brief loss of consciousness, headaches and impaired cognition, among other symptoms. Symptoms can last for days or sometimes longer. And a person who experience one risks another and may find recovery takes longer. Scientists continue to learn more about the nefarious consequences of repeated concussions. In the February issue of Scientific American, writer Jeffrey Bartholet details in “The Collision Syndrome evidence for yet another neurodegenerative disorder that can result from concussions. © 2012 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: 16334 - Posted: 02.04.2012

By The Editors The dangers of life in the National Football League made headlines in 2009, when a study commissioned by the NFL found that retired players were 19 times more likely than other men of similar ages to develop severe memory problems. The obvious culprit: continued play after repeated head injuries. Indeed, head injury can imitate many types of neurodegenerative disease, including Parkinson’s disease and, as journalist Jeffrey Bartholet reports in “The Collision Syndrome,” on page 66, perhaps even amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The problem is not unique to professional sports. About 144,000 people aged 18 and younger are treated every year in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for concussions, according to a December 2010 analysis in the Journal of Pediatrics. Nearly a third of these injuries occur while kids are playing organized sports. Forty percent of pediatric concussions seen in emergency rooms involve high school students. The figure is slightly higher—42 percent—for younger children. Overall, concussions are most common in football and ice hockey, followed by soccer, wrestling and other sports, and slightly more boys than girls suffer concussions. Despite the prevalence of brain injury from kindergarten to high school, relatively little research on the long-term health consequences of concussion has been conducted on child athletes, compared with those in college and in the pros. Scientists have an incomplete understanding of what happens when a child’s brain slams up against the inside of the skull during a blow to the head and how this affects neurological development. As participation in sports continues to grow (1.5 million youngsters now play on football teams in the U.S.), more head injuries are inevitable, making pediatric concussions an emerging public health crisis. © 2012 Scientific American,

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: 16330 - Posted: 02.02.2012

Mark Napadano watched in horror as his 13-year-old son slammed head first into the hard ground after a motocross accident. In seconds he was at the side of his son, Sam, terrified by the sight of the junior high athlete so full of life just moments before lying limp in front of him - and not breathing. “It was like a nightmare,” Mark remembers. At the hospital doctors examined Sam and gave Mark the frightening news: Sam had a large pocket of blood pooling near the top of his head and two smaller bleeds in the front and two in the back. “They didn’t say he was going to die, but they didn’t say he was going to live,” recalls the 45-year-old car dealer from Butler, Pa. advertisement Sam was in a coma for days and in critical care for almost a month. By the time he was released to a rehab facility the 5-foot-4-inch teen had dropped from a trim and muscular 114 pounds to just 84. For months Mark and his wife, Sue, watched as their son learned to talk and walk for a second time. Now, three years after the wreck Sam is almost back to where he was before, Mark says. Sam returned to school three months after the accident and kept up his rehab for two years. He still has some short term memory problems and though his working memory has improved, it can be a challenge if too many commands are thrown his way at the same time. © 2012 msnbc.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: 16294 - Posted: 01.24.2012

By SARAH WHEATON At a crowded vigil on Sunday night in Tucson, Representative Gabrielle Giffords held her husband’s hand as she stepped up to the lectern to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. It had been one year since a shooting at a Tucson supermarket killed six people, injured 12 others and left her with a severe brain injury. Ms. Giffords’s appearance was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd that applauded her remarkable progress toward recovery. The man next to her, fighting tears, offered his own remarks. “For the past year, we’ve had new realities to live with,” said her husband, the astronaut Mark E. Kelly. “The reality and pain of letting go of the past.” Captain Kelly was speaking of the survivors of the shooting. But his words echoed the sentiments of many brain injury survivors and their spouses as they grapple with interpersonal challenges that take much longer than a year to overcome. Until recently, there had been little evidence-based research on how to rebuild marriages after such a tragedy. Indeed, doctors frequently warn uninjured spouses that the marriage may well be over, that the personality changes that can result from brain injury may do irreparable harm to the relationship. Captain Kelly and Ms. Giffords largely have kept private their own experiences in this regard, and they declined to be interviewed for this article. Still, therapists are beginning to understand the obstacles that couples like them face, and what they are learning may lead to new counseling techniques to help restore the social links that give lives meaning. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16232 - Posted: 01.10.2012

By Melissa Dahl When a Russian man was only 3, his older brother accidentally shot him with a pistol. More than eight decades later, the bullet was still there, according to a case report just published online in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The bullet hit the little boy right below the nose and eventually lodged itself in his foramen magnum, the opening in the bottom of the skull that allows the spinal cord to pass through and connect to the brain. The 3-year-old lost consciousness for several hours. At the time, a doctor examined the poor kid, but didn't remove the bullet for fear of causing more harm than good, says Dr. Marat Ezhov of Moscow's Cardiology Research Center, who examined the patient more than 80 years later. Incredibly, the boy recovered completely. "The body has an amazing ability to 'get used to' things," explains Dr. Richard O'Brien, a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians. "Also, children have a great ability to overcome hardship and rebuild themselves when injured." Eighty-two years later, Ezhov and Dr. Maya Safarova were treating the man at the cardiology center for his coronary heart disease. His patient history included the story of the accidental shooting, so doctors did a CT scan to check it out, which revealed the stowaway bullet. But the bullet had left no sign of neural damage -- further evidenced by the man's successful career as an award-winning engineer. © 2012 msnbc.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: 16202 - Posted: 01.03.2012

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS What happens inside the skull of a soccer player who repeatedly heads a soccer ball? That question motivated a provocative new study of the brains of experienced players that has prompted discussion and debate in the soccer community, and some anxiety among those of us with soccer-playing offspring. For the study, researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York recruited 34 adults, men and women. All of the volunteers had played soccer since childhood and now competed year-round in adult soccer leagues. Each filled out a detailed questionnaire developed especially for this study to determine how many times they had headed a soccer ball in the previous year, as well as whether they had experienced any known concussions in the past. Then the players completed computerized tests of their memory and other cognitive skills and had their brains scanned, using a sophisticated new M.R.I. technique known as diffusion tensor imaging, which can find structural changes in the brain that would not be visible during most scans. The researchers found, according to data they presented at a Radiological Society of North America meeting last month, that the players who had headed the ball more than about 1,100 times in the previous 12 months showed significant loss of white matter in parts of their brains involved with memory, attention and the processing of visual information, compared with players who had headed the ball fewer times. (White matter is the brain’s communication wiring, the axons and other structures that relay messages between neurons.) © 2011 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: 16135 - Posted: 12.10.2011

By JOHN BRANCH THROUGH THE NIGHT and into the next day, as the scrolls across the bottom of television screens spread the news of Derek Boogaard’s death last May, the calls of condolences came, one after another. Among them was a call from a stranger, first to Joanne Boogaard in Regina, Saskatchewan, then to Len Boogaard in Ottawa. It was a researcher asking for the brain of their son. An examination of the brain could unlock answers to Boogaard’s life and death. It could save other lives. But there was not much time to make a decision. Boogaard, the N.H.L.’s fiercest fighter, dead of a drug and alcohol overdose at 28, was going to be cremated. There was little discussion. The brain was carved out of his skull by a coroner in Minneapolis. It was placed in a plastic bucket and inside a series of plastic bags, then put in a cooler filled with a slurry of icy water. It was driven to the airport and placed in the cargo hold of a plane to Boston. When it arrived at a laboratory at the Bedford V.A. Medical Center in Bedford, Mass., the brain was vibrantly pink and weighed 1,580 grams, or about 3 ½ pounds. On a stainless-steel table in the basement morgue, Dr. Ann McKee cleaved it in half, front to back, with a large knife. Much of one half was sliced into sheets about the width of sandwich bread. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 16116 - Posted: 12.06.2011

By Michelle Roberts Health reporter, BBC News Frequently heading a football can lead to brain injury, warn doctors who say they have found proof on brain scans. Imaging of 32 keen amateur players revealed patterns of damage similar to that seen in patients with concussion. There appears to be a safe cut off level of 1,000 or fewer headers a year below which no harm will be done, but the US investigators say more work is needed to confirm this. Heading is believed to have killed the English footballer Jeff Astle. Astle, 59, who died in 2002, developed cognitive problems after years of playing for England and West Bromwich Albion. The coroner ruled that his death resulted from a degenerative brain disease caused by heading heavy leather footballs. Although the balls used to play soccer today are much lighter than those used in the 1960s when Astle was playing, they can still pack a punch, says lead researcher Dr Michael Lipton of Montefiore Medical Center, the university hospital for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. BBC © 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 16093 - Posted: 11.29.2011

By Emily Sohn Among the devastating consequences of her brain injury from a gunshot wound 10 months ago, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords lost the ability to talk. But with help from music-based therapy, according to an ABC News segment that aired this week, Giffords has rediscovered her voice and, it seems, her spirit. The footage, which shows Giffords crying in frustration when she tries unsuccessfully to talk but looking joyful as she sings fluently, paints a dramatic picture of the power of music to help people overcome brain injuries. Giffords' story also highlights both the potential and the limitations of a fairly new field of medicine. Music brings so much pleasure to our everyday lives, and it would make sense if music also worked as a healing tool. But scientists are still awaiting solid data to prove what seems to work in case study after case study. "It used to be thought that music was a superfluous thing, and no one understood why it developed from an evolutionary standpoint," said Michael De Georgia, director of the Center for Music and Medicine at Case Western Reserve University's University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. © 2011 Discovery Communications, LLC

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 16045 - Posted: 11.17.2011

By JEFF Z. KLEIN GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Concussions continued to cast a long shadow over the N.H.L. on Thursday. The Rangers said there was no update on the condition of defenseman Marc Staal, who has not played this season and is still recovering from a concussion sustained in February that the club did not disclose until September. Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, who has been sidelined by a concussion since early January, was cleared for contact a month ago and has practiced all week, including Wednesday, when he took several hard hits. Despite speculation that he would return for Friday’s home game against the Dallas Stars, Coach Dan Bylsma said Crosby would not play in either of the team’s games this weekend. That leaves Tuesday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche as the earliest possible return date for Crosby. Toronto goalie James Reimer has not played since Oct. 22, when he sustained an injury that the Maple Leafs have characterized variously as whiplash, concussion-like symptoms and an upper-body injury. The N.H.L. has earned praise this season for taking measures to reduce concussions, including introducing stronger rules against boarding and checks to the head, and strictly enforcing those rules through fines and suspensions. But questions persist about a league policy that allows teams to be vague about disclosure of injuries, and a recent incident suggested that in-game concussion protocols might be inconsistently applied. © 2011 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: 16019 - Posted: 11.11.2011

By JORGE CASTILLO PHOENIX, N.Y. — It was just another routine goal-line play in a high school football game on a Friday night. With a playoff berth on the line, Homer High School was nursing a 7-6 lead on its home field with about six minutes to play in the third quarter against a conference rival, the Phoenix Firebirds of John C. Birdlebough High School. On third down from the Phoenix 6, Homer ran a dive up the middle and was stopped short. A seemingly typical play run thousands of times in countless high school football games each weekend. There were no pounding hits or awkward takedowns. No reason for each player not to get up from the pile and return to his huddle. Yet one player remained on the field too long after the play was over. With everyone else on their feet, defensive tackle Ridge Barden was face down on the field. His coach, Jeff Charles; a doctor; and two emergency medical technicians headed onto the field to tend to him. Barden was at first groggy but responsive and coherent as the four reached him. But in minutes, his condition deteriorated. He began to moan and his eyes closed. He tried to stand, but instead quickly collapsed. Two hours later, Barden was dead. He was 16. Barden’s father, Jody, said a coroner’s report released Sunday ruled the cause of death to be a cerebral hemorrhage. The death is another in a growing list of fatal football-related head injuries. Each year, a handful of such deaths are reported across the country. © 2011 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: 15916 - Posted: 10.17.2011

By BENEDICT CAREY Techniques being used to treat psychological lapses from traumatic brain injuries, the signature wounds suffered by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, appear to be helpful, but lack rigorous scientific support, a government-appointed panel reported Tuesday after completing the most comprehensive analysis of the evidence to date. The report, completed by the Institute of Medicine at the request of the Defense Department, concluded that some specific methods — the use of special daily diaries, for instance, to improve memory — were backed by more evidence than others. But it concluded that the evidence base over all was too thin to support any guidelines for which therapies to provide to whom. Since 2009, the Pentagon has provided more than 71,000 hours of so-called cognitive rehabilitation, and its insurer, Tricare, has covered an additional 54,000 hours in private clinics for active duty, National Guard and retired service members, according to Cynthia O. Smith, a Department of Defense spokeswoman. Such rehabilitation methods have come under intense scrutiny from family members of veterans who suffered traumatic brain injuries, including those caused by nonpenetrating blasts, as well as wounds from bombs, bullets or blows to the head. Some 20 percent of service members wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered blows to the face, neck or head, and the number of brain injuries has nearly tripled in the past decade, to more than 30,000 from 11,000. © 2011 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: 15908 - Posted: 10.13.2011

By JANE ROSETT “WANT a piece of gum, Jane?” asked my friend Andrée. “What?” I asked her. “Gum!” I didn’t know what she was talking about. “It’s Trident.” It was delicious. That evening, I told my friend David about my day’s big discovery. “It’s called gum and you chew it and it’s fun and there’s this one kind that will let me blow bubbles!” “Yes, it’s called bubble gum, Jane,” he told me, patiently. Fifty-nine months ago, I was wearing my seat belt and my car was stopped when another vehicle hit me, causing my head to fracture the windshield. That damaged my right temporal lobe, one of my neurologists explained when he told me I had a traumatic brain injury. I lost my long-term memory, and have been a brain injury patient within Harvard Medical School’s teaching hospitals ever since. At 45, I was jolted into an entirely new existence. Memories that connected different parts of my life fragmented and vanished. It took 26 months before I was able to thread my way back unattended to the house I had lived in for 17 years. © 2011 The New York Times Company

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: 15894 - Posted: 10.10.2011

Boston University researchers have found a degenerative disease linked to head trauma in the brain tissue of the late NHL great Rick Martin, the first 50-goal scorer for the Buffalo Sabres and a member of their famed French Connection line. Martin, who died in March of hypertensive heart disease at age 59, becomes the third former NHL player found by researchers to have had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — a disease that causes cognitive decline, behavioural abnormalities and ultimately dementia. After his death, Martin's family donated his brain to the Centre for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, a collaboration between Boston University Medical School and the Sports Legacy Institute. All three former NHL players who agreed to have their brains studied post-mortem at the centre — Martin, Bob Probert and Reggie Fleming — have now been shown to have had CTE, but Martin is the first who did not play an enforcer role and regularly participate in on-ice fights, the centre says. Neurosurgeon Robert Cantu, who co-founded the institute and is co-director of the CTE centre, told CBC News the findings in Martin's case are alarming because he only suffered perhaps one concussion in his career, unrelated to fighting. "What I can tell you bothers me: The first two cases in the National Hockey League, Reggie Fleming and Bob Probert [were] renowned fighters, 400 recognized fights during their ice hockey career, God knows how many in bars," Cantu told CBC's Stephanie Jenzer in an documentary airing Wednesday on The National, in which CBC News was granted rare access to the brain centre's lab. © CBC 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 15880 - Posted: 10.06.2011

By SAM BORDEN WASHINGTON — The N.F.L’s first attempt at a long-range study on the effects of concussions was riddled with problems from the manner in which data was collected to conflicts of interest for those overseeing it. After criticism from outside experts and even members of Congress, the study was shut down by the league in late 2009. Nearly two years later, however, the N.F.L.’s committee on concussion research is planning a considerably broader study — an effort that could begin gathering data as soon as next season, according to one of the doctors involved. The doctor, Mitchel S. Berger, the chairman of the neurological surgery department at the University of California San Francisco, said Monday that he and the N.F.L.’s subcommittee on former players and long-term effects of brain and spine injury had been holding conference calls regarding the study every two weeks with representatives from the players’ union. He added that he hoped to make a final presentation to the union and Commissioner Roger Goodell “in the near future.” Berger said he was aware of the issues surrounding the previous study, and said the latest model was completely different. “There was no science in that,” Berger said in reference to the study coordinated by Dr. Ira Casson, who was also the league’s primary voice in discrediting outside research on concussions. Asked if he might use any of the data from Casson’s work, Berger shook his head. © 2011 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: 15872 - Posted: 10.04.2011

by Bob Holmes THE two men in the hospital ward had both hit their heads in car accidents, but that was where the similarities ended. One would spend weeks unconscious in critical care, near to death. The other had only a mild concussion; he never lost consciousness, but somehow didn't feel quite right. Yet months later their roles were reversed. "The one with the severe injury is almost back to normal function," says Douglas Smith, director of the Center for Brain Injury Repair at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, "and the one with concussion can't go back to work, probably ever." Smith's two patients illustrate one of the frustrating paradoxes of head injuries: even seemingly mild impacts can have devastating long-term consequences. And we have no way of predicting who will fully recover and who will have lingering problems. Concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury as doctors call it, has long been seen as a benign and temporary affliction. But over the past decade there has been growing realisation that longer-term symptoms can affect between 10 and 15 per cent of those diagnosed with it. These range from fuzzy thinking and memory lapses to, for the most unfortunate, serious neurological conditions such as premature Alzheimer's disease. In fact, concussion is thought to be the single biggest environmental cause of Alzheimer's. Even a mild impact can double the risk of developing early dementia, according to a massive study of older military veterans in the US, which was presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in July (bit.ly/pDhlHJ). In that, the risk jumped from 7 to 15 per cent. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 15806 - Posted: 09.15.2011

Ed Pilkington Dave Duerson had so much going for him. A former professional American football player, he still carried himself with the bearing of a star. In Chicago, he was feted as a member of the legendary 1985 Bears that won the Super Bowl, thrashing the New England Patriots 46-10. In New York, too, he was fondly remembered as a member of the Giants team that took the Super Bowl championship five years later, squeaking to victory over the Buffalo Bills by just one point. He had friends throughout the sport, acquired over an 11-year career with the National Football League (NFL) and many years subsequently helping younger and less fortunate players find their way. He had a loving family with three sons and a daughter and a former wife, Alicia, who kept in regular touch, as well as a girlfriend to whom he had recently become engaged. He lived in a condominium that he owned on Sunny Isles Beach in Florida, a barrier island close to Miami dubbed the Venice of America. He was smart, charming, as kind and gentle off the field as he had been aggressive and ruthless on it. But he knew that he had a problem. There were the outward signs of difficulties – the collapse of his business, the breakup of his marriage, the debts. But there were also the internal changes. The lapses in memory, the mood swings, the piercing headaches on the left side of his head, the difficulty spelling simple words, the blurred eyesight. And hanging over it all was his fear that both his material and physical decline might not be coincidental, that they might have been caused by injuries to his brain suffered playing the game he loved so much – football. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 19: Language and Hemispheric Asymmetry
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Our Divided Brain
Link ID: 15612 - Posted: 07.28.2011