Links for Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion

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By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS Here’s yet another reason to protect young athletes from head trauma: A large-scale new study found that concussions in adolescents can increase the risk of later developing multiple sclerosis. The risk of multiple sclerosis, or M.S., an autoimmune nervous system disorder with an unknown cause, was especially high if there were more than one head injury. The overall chances that a young athlete who has had one or more head injuries will develop multiple sclerosis still remain low, the study’s authors point out. But the risk is significantly higher than if a young person never experiences a serious blow to the head. The drumbeat of worrying news about concussions and their consequences has been rising in recent years, as most of us know, especially if we have children who play contact sports. Much of this concern has centered on possible links between repeated concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a serious, degenerative brain disease that affects the ability to think. But there have been hints that head trauma might also be linked to the development of other conditions, including multiple sclerosis. Past studies with animals have shown that trauma to the central nervous system, including the brain, may jump-start the kind of autoimmune reactions that underlie multiple sclerosis. (In the disease, the body’s immune system begins to attack the fatty sheaths that enwrap and protect nerve fibers, leaving them vulnerable to damage and scarring.) © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 24219 - Posted: 10.19.2017

By Rebecca Robbins, LAS VEGAS — It’s a study that probably couldn’t be conducted anywhere other than this hot spot for professional combatants, where marquee fights are about as common as Celine Dion concerts. Researchers have enrolled close to 700 mixed martial arts fighters and boxers, both active and retired, in the past six years. The ambitious goal: to learn to identify early signs of trauma-induced brain damage from subtle changes in blood chemistry, brain imaging, and performance tests — changes that may show up decades before visible symptoms such as cognitive impairment, depression, and impulsive behavior. Among the participants is 29-year-old Gina Mazany. She has a streak of pinkish-purple hair, a tattoo of a pterodactyl with a cheeseburger in its beak, and a reputation as a formidable MMA fighter worthy of her nickname, Gina Danger. Once a year, she undergoes a battery of medical tests here at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, an outpost of the Cleveland Clinic, to help suss out the toll of a career marked by concussions and blows to the head. “I’m one of their guinea pigs,” she said. Last month, researchers at Boston University made a splash when they identified high levels of a protein called CCL11 in the brain and spinal fluid of deceased football players with the degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Cleveland Clinic researchers are taking a different tack: They’re monitoring professional fighters while they’re still alive — and, most of the time, while they’re still fighting. By repeating a series of tests year after year, they hope to pick up on changes that might predict development of CTE. © 2017 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 24209 - Posted: 10.18.2017

By Diana Kwon Recovering from a concussion typically takes female athletes more than twice as long as males, according to a new study that tracked hundreds of teenagers active in sports. The finding adds to a growing body of evidence that vulnerability to this injury—and aspects of the healing process—may vary by sex. A handful of studies published since the mid-2000s have suggested that girls in high school and college may sustain a higher rate of these injuries on the playing field than boys do, and investigations over the last few years have indicated they may also take longer to recover. As a result, when sports medicine researchers and experts convened in Berlin last fall for the 5th International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport, their subsequent statement cited evidence girls were more likely to suffer concussions that required a more lengthy recovery period than their male counterparts did. “But there wasn’t enough data to [definitively] say that this was the case,” says John Neidecker, a sports medicine physician with the Orthopaedic Specialists of North Carolina. “We thought that we'd take a look back at the athletes that we saw over a three-year period and actually [provide] some objective data.” Neidecker and his colleagues analyzed the medical records of 212 middle and high school athletes who visited a sports medicine practice in southern New Jersey—110 boys and 102 girls—who had experienced their first concussion while playing an organized sport such as football, field hockey or wrestling. (Only initial head injuries were considered to rule out the possible effect of prior incidents.) Their analysis revealed the median recovery time for girls was 28 days—more than double that of boys, which was 11 days. The results appeared Monday inThe Journal of the © 2017 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 24142 - Posted: 10.03.2017

By PERRI KLASS, M.D. More than 30 years ago, my toddler stood up in his stroller, evading the various belts and restraints, and took a dramatic header down onto the pavement. He cried right away — a good thing, because it meant he didn’t lose consciousness, and by the time we got home, he seemed to be consoled, though he was already developing a major goose egg. I was a fourth-year medical student at the time and called the pediatric practice at University Health Services, and explained, somewhat frantically, that I was due to get on a flight to California with him in a couple of hours; I was going out for my all-important residency interviews. No problem, said the sympathetic doctor on call, all those years ago. You’re a medical student, you must have a penlight. Just take it along on the plane, and make sure you wake your son up every two hours and check that his pupils are equal, round and reactive to light. And he wished me good luck at my interviews. I hung up, much comforted. It was not until we were sitting on the airplane, me with my penlight in my pocket, that it occurred to me to wonder what I was supposed to do if somewhere over the Midwest, his pupils were not equal, round and reactive. We’ve gotten better, I hope, at some of the advice we give, but for pediatricians and for parents, head trauma in children is still an occasion for difficult decision making. Unlike broken limbs, usually detected because of pain and clearly diagnosed with X-rays, head injuries are tricky to diagnose and manage. In many cases where the concern is concussion, there is no medication or surgery that can make a difference — the primary treatment is rest. Public awareness over the ties between concussions and later problems for children, and publicity about chronic traumatic encephalopathy in athletes may be making parents even more anxious about treating head injuries. But with increasing concern in recent years about the radiation risk to children of CT scans, doing a head CT just to reassure a worried parent — or even a worried doctor — is generally seen as bad medicine; if you’re giving a child a significant dose of possibly dangerous radiation, you need to have some evidence that you may actually be doing something necessary for that child’s safety. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24135 - Posted: 10.02.2017

By GINA KOLATA Otto F. Warmbier, the college student imprisoned in North Korea and returned to the United States in a vegetative state, suffered extensive brain damage following interrupted blood flow and a lack of oxygen, according to the coroner who examined his body. But an external examination and “virtual autopsy” conducted by the coroner’s office in Hamilton County, Ohio, could not determine how his circulation had been cut off. “All we can do is theorize, and we hate to theorize without science backing us up,” Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, the county coroner, said in an interview Thursday. Mr. Warmbier, 22, an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, was convicted in March 2016 of trying to steal a propaganda poster while on a trip to North Korea and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. He was flown back to the United States in June in a vegetative state. North Korean officials said Mr. Warmbier’s condition was caused by sleeping pills and botulism, a diagnosis that medical experts doubted. He died six days later at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. His parents requested that a full autopsy not be performed. On Tuesday, during an appearance on the television show “Fox & Friends,” Fred Warmbier said that his son had been “tortured” and described North Korean officials as “terrorists.” After the interview, President Trump said in a tweet that Mr. Warmbier “was tortured beyond belief by North Korea.” On Thursday, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement denying again that Mr. Warmbier had been tortured and accusing the United States of “employing even a dead person” in a “conspiracy campaign” against North Korea. Dr. Sammarco’s examination, which was concluded earlier this month, did not find signs of torture but could not rule out the possibility. “There are a lot of horrible things you can do to a human body that don’t leave external signs behind,” Dr. Sammarco said. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 24122 - Posted: 09.29.2017

Greta Jochem Concussions have gotten a lot of attention in recent years, especially as professional football players' brains have shown signs of degenerative brain disease linked with repeated blows to the head. Now, a new analysis confirms what many doctors fear — that concussions start showing up at a high rate in teens who are active in contact sports. About 20 percent of teens said they have been diagnosed with at least one concussion. And nearly 6 percent said they've been diagnosed with more than one, according to a research letter published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says concussions can result in headaches, nausea and irritability. While most people do not suffer from long-term impacts from a concussion, between 10 percent and 20 percent may experience symptoms like depression, headaches or difficulty concentrating. Some people experience sleep problems, and multiple concussions are one way to cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease notably found in some NFL players. The letter's authors looked at 13,000 questionnaire responses from the 2016 version of Monitoring the Future. Each year since 1975, the study, run by the University of Michigan Survey Research Center, has surveyed high school students all over the country about their behaviors and attitudes. According to Philip Veliz, an author of the JAMA letter and an assistant research professor at the University of Michigan's Institute for Research on Women & Gender, in 2016, the survey added a question asking whether students had ever had a concussion. © 2017 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24117 - Posted: 09.28.2017

By BENEDICT CAREY The brain damage was so severe that scientists all but gasped. Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end, was convicted of murder and killed himself in prison last April at age 27. An autopsy revealed that he had brain injuries akin to that seen in afflicted former players in their 60s, researchers announced on Thursday. The sheer extent of the damage turns on its head the usual question about violence and so-called chronic traumatic encephalopathy. If accumulated head trauma can cause such damage, might the injuries in turn lead to murder and suicide? It’s a natural presumption to make, given the tragic suicides of Junior Seau, Dave Duerson and other former football players diagnosed post-mortem with C.T.E. And it’s a question that the courts will have to wrestle with. On Friday, the National Football League vowed to defend itself against a lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Hernandez’s daughter and fiancée, who claims that his injuries and death were a direct result of his participation in football. The science itself — like most attempts to link brain biology to behavior — is murkier. In recent decades, researchers have made extraordinary strides in understanding the workings of brain cells, neural circuits and anatomy. Yet drawing a direct line from those basic findings to what people do out in the world is dicey, given the ineffable interplay between circumstance, relationships and personality. What scientists — from such diverse fields as psychiatry, neurology and substance use — can say is that the arrows seem to be pointing in the same direction. A number of brain states raise the risk of acting out violently, and the evidence so far, while incomplete, suggests that C.T.E. may be one of them. Dr. Samuel Gandy, director of the N.F.L. neurology program at Mount Sinai Medical Center, said that rage and irritability “are far and away the most prominent symptoms” among former players with likely C.T.E., in his research. His group has identified 10 of 24 former players who probably have C.T.E. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 24104 - Posted: 09.23.2017

By Deborah Tuerkheimer Controversy surrounding “shaken baby syndrome” (SBS) is taking centre stage again. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) meets today with a session underscoring the message that most paediatricians – child abuse specialists among them – say it remains a “valid” diagnosis. In other words, the paediatric community continues to believe that shaking can bring about one or more of the classic triad of neurological symptoms: bleeding beneath the outer layer of membranes surrounding the brain, bleeding in the retina, and brain swelling. This is likely to prompt vigorous opposition from those within the medical community who challenge the scientific underpinnings of SBS. It is also likely to resonate with the public, many of whom assume that this diagnosis alone amounts to proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a caregiver or parent injured or killed a baby by violent shaking. It does not. Yet for decades such prosecutions did rest on the testimony of medical experts regarding the triad. Doctors came to court and explained that vigorous shaking – not an accidental jostle or an effort to revive an unconscious child – was the only possible explanation for those symptoms. The triad was even used to identify a perpetrator – whoever was last with the lucid baby. SBS could, in essence, be a medical diagnosis of murder. Beginning in the 1990s, triad-only prosecutions became increasingly commonplace, sending many caregivers to prison. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.=

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24082 - Posted: 09.20.2017

By Brian Levine, Carrie Esopenko There are two ways to go about studying a disease. Let’s call them the retrospective and prospective methods. In the retrospective method, scientists identify individuals with the disease and ask about the circumstances that led to the illness. In the prospective method, they start with a representative sample of people and track them over time to see who develops the disease. Both methods have yielded important discoveries, but the retrospective method is much more prone to distortion than the prospective method. Consider the following example. Using the retrospective method, 100 percent of alcoholics drink alcohol. Yet drinking alcohol does not necessarily lead to alcoholism, as can be determined by the prospective method in which it can be seen that the proportion of those who enjoy alcoholic drinks and become alcoholics is less than 100 percent. Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center recently reported that 99 percent of NFL alumni who made brain donations at the time of death have CTE (a similar finding was reported in 2013). While researchers acknowledge that those who make brain donations are not representative of retired NFL players (much less those with sports-related concussions in general) it is remarkably easy to make the same mistake as in the alcoholism example—that is, making the assumption that this finding generalizes to the broader population of athletes exposed to concussion. © 2017 Scientific America

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 24025 - Posted: 09.02.2017

By Sameer Deshpande, Raiden Hasegawa, Christina Master, Amanda Rabinowitz, Dylan Small American football is the largest participation sport in U.S. high schools. Recently, many have expressed concern about the sport’s safety with some even calling for banning youth and high school tackle football. We recently published a study in JAMA Neurology suggesting that, in general, men who played high school football in 1950s Wisconsin did not have a higher risk of poor cognitive or emotional health later in life than those who did not play. Recent concerns about football’s safety have been driven largely by reports of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) among retired professional players. CTE is a neurodegenerative disease thought to result from repetitive head trauma with symptoms including memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression. A recent study in JAMA reported evidence of CTE in 110 of 111 deceased retired NFL players who donated their brains for posthumous examination. This important study adds to a larger body of work linking repetitive sports-related concussion with neurodegenerative disease. However, such research, which depends on brains donated by families of players many of whom were symptomatic before death, is not designed to establish the base rate of neurodegeneration among the larger population of football players. A critical question remains: what is the risk of later-life cognitive and emotional dysfunction for American high school football players? © 2017 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 23994 - Posted: 08.25.2017

By Mo Costandi The controversy began about 10 years ago, when it emerged that the National Football League had first tried to cover up evidence linking repetitive head injuries in players to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive neurodegenerative disorder, and then to discredit the scientists doing the work. Since then evidence supporting this link has grown as an increasing number of players have come forward to report that they are suffering from depression, and some have committed suicide. And yet, exactly how repetitive head injuries are linked to CTE development and the psychiatric symptoms associated with it is still a matter of debate. The largest-ever study of its kind has now given the most compelling evidence yet linking repetitive head impacts in football players to CTE. The study, published recently in JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association, has notable limitations, however. It has also sparked calls for more research to measure the impact of head blows on players over the course of a lifetime. The new work builds on findings from 2013: neuropathologist Ann McKee of Boston University and her colleagues published a postmortem report of 68 male athletes and military veterans with CTE, in which they described a spectrum of pathological signatures associated with the condition. McKee and colleagues observed two distinct sets of clinical symptoms: one involving disturbances in mood and behavior, which was seen in the younger subjects, and the other including cognitive impairments, which developed at an older age. © 2017 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 23920 - Posted: 08.05.2017

By Joe Ward, Josh Williams and Sam Manchester Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist, has examined the brains of 202 deceased football players. A broad survey of her findings was published on Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Of the 202 players, 111 of them played in the N.F.L. — and 110 of those were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., the degenerative disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head. C.T.E. causes myriad symptoms, including memory loss, confusion, depression and dementia. The problems can arise years after the blows to the head have stopped. The brains here are from players who died as young as 23 and as old as 89. And they are from every position on the field — quarterbacks, running backs and linebackers, and even a place-kicker and a punter. They are from players you have never heard of and players, like Ken Stabler, who are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Some of the brains cannot be publicly identified, per the families’ wishes. The image above is from the brain of Ronnie Caveness, a linebacker for the Houston Oilers and Kansas City Chiefs. In college, he helped the Arkansas Razorbacks go undefeated in 1964. One of his teammates was Jerry Jones, now the owner of the Dallas Cowboys. Jones has rejected the belief that there is a link between football and C.T.E. The image above is from the brain of Ollie Matson, who played 14 seasons in the N.F.L. — after winning two medals on the track at the 1952 Helsinki Games. He died in 2011 at age 80 after being mostly bedridden with dementia, his nephew told The Associated Press, adding that Matson hadn’t spoken in four years. Dr. McKee, chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System and director of the CTE Center at Boston University, has amassed the largest C.T.E. brain bank in the world. But the brains of some other players found to have the disease — like Junior Seau, Mike Webster and Andre Waters — were examined elsewhere. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 23880 - Posted: 07.26.2017

Tom Goldman As the country starts to get back into its most popular professional team sport, there is a reminder of how dangerous football can be. An updated study published Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association on football players and the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy reveals a striking result among NFL players. The study examined the brains of deceased former football players (CTE can only be diagnosed after death) and found that 110 out of 111 brains of those who played in the NFL had CTE. CTE has been linked to repeated blows to the head — the 2015 movie Concussion chronicled the discovery of CTE's connection to football. In the study, researchers examined the brains of 202 deceased former football players at all levels. Nearly 88 percent of all the brains, 177, had CTE. Three of 14 who had played only in high school had CTE, 48 of 53 college players, 9 of 14 semiprofessional players, and 7 of 8 Canadian Football League players. CTE was not found in the brains of two who played football before high school. According to the study's senior author, Dr. Ann McKee, "this is by far the largest [study] of individuals who developed CTE that has ever been described. And it only includes individuals who are exposed to head trauma by participation in football." © 2017 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 23879 - Posted: 07.26.2017

Jon Hamilton Professional fighter Gina Mazany practices during a training session at Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts in Las Vegas. She well remembers her first concussion — which came in her first fight. "I was throwing up that night, Mazany says. Bridget Bennett for NPR Gina Mazany grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. And that's where she had her first fight. "It was right after I turned 18," she recalls. A local bar had a boxing ring, and Mazany decided to give it a shot. Her opponent was an older woman with a "mom haircut." "She beat the crap out of me," Mazany says. "Like she didn't knock me out, she didn't finish me. But she just knocked me around for three rounds. And I remember, later that night I was very, very nauseous. I was throwing up that night." It was her first concussion. Concussions are just part of her sport, Mazany figures, but says she tries to protect herself, and to not give anyone else a head injury--at least in training. Bridget Bennett for NPR Thanks to research on boxers and football players, both athletes and the public are becoming more aware of the dangers of sports-related head injuries. Yet there is little data on participants like Mazany. That's because, unlike the vast majority of athletes studied, she is a woman. "We classically have always known the male response to brain injury," says Mark Burns, at Georgetown University. But there have been remarkably few studies of females. The bias runs throughout the scientific literature, even in studies of mice. © 2017 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 23865 - Posted: 07.24.2017

By LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN, M.D. Evidence continues to mount that professional athletes in a number of contact sports are suffering brain damage as a result of head impacts. But there is no reliable test to detect the injury, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, in its earliest stages. Even if a doctor strongly suspects that an athlete’s confusion or memory loss is related to C.T.E., proof can only be obtained on autopsy. Now a small study of National Football League players suggests another possibility: that the signs of C.T.E. may be found with a low-cost, noninvasive test that tracks changes in conversational language years before symptoms appear. If it works, the linguistic test also would be valuable in assessing the effectiveness of treatments to prevent cognitive damage because of C.T.E. or to slow its progression. In the study, to be published this week in the journal Brain and Language, researchers at Arizona State University tracked a steeper decline in vocabulary size and other verbal skills in 10 players who spoke at news conferences over an eight-year period, compared with 18 coaches and executives who had never played professional football and who also spoke in news conferences during the same period. The players included seven quarterbacks, one nose tackle, one cornerback and one wide receiver. Although the small sample size and limited study period prevented reaching definitive conclusions, the findings underscored the need for larger, long-term studies of changes in spoken and written language that could be harbingers of severe brain damage later in life. And not just for injuries related to C.T.E. Development of a reliable linguistic tool could also help evaluate head injuries among military personnel and victims of domestic violence, said Dr. Javier Cardenas, who directs the Concussion and Brain Injury Center at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 23679 - Posted: 05.30.2017

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS When young athletes sustain concussions, they are typically told to rest until all symptoms disappear. That means no physical activity, reading, screen time, or friends, and little light exposure, for multiple days and, in severe cases, weeks. Restricting all forms of activity after a concussion is known as “cocooning.” But now new guidelines, written by an international panel of concussion experts and published this month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, question that practice. Instead of cocooning, the new guidelines suggest that most young athletes should be encouraged to start being physically active with a day or two after the injury. “The brain benefits from movement and exercise, including after a concussion,” says Dr. John Leddy, a professor of orthopedics at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, and one of the co-authors of the new guidelines. There has long been controversy, of course, about the best ways to identify and treat sports-related concussions. Twenty years ago, athletes who banged their heads during play were allowed to remain in the practice or game, even if they stumbled, seemed disoriented, or were “seeing stars.” Little was known then about any possible immediate or long-term consequences from head trauma during sports or about the best responses on the sidelines and afterward. Since then, mounting evidence has indicated that sports-related concussions are not benign and require appropriate treatment. The question has been what these appropriate treatments should be. In the early 2000s, dozens of the world’s premier experts on sports-related concussions started meeting to review studies about concussions, with plans to issue a consensus set of guidelines on how best to identify and deal with the condition. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 23633 - Posted: 05.18.2017

By DAVE PHILIPPS Three-fifths of troops discharged from the military for misconduct in recent years had a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or another associated condition, according to a report released Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office. The report, mandated by Congress, for the first time combined military medical and staffing data, as well as data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, to show that tens of thousands of wounded troops were kicked out of the armed forces and severed from benefits designed to ease their transition from service in war. “It is everything many of us believed for years” said Kristopher Goldsmith, a veteran who served in Iraq and was discharged for misconduct after a suicide attempt. He is now an assistant director for policy at Vietnam Veterans of America, a veterans advocacy group based in Washington. “Many people didn’t believe that the problem could be this big. Now I hope Congress will direct the resources to making it right.” From 2011 to 2015, according to the report, nearly 92,000 troops were discharged for misconduct — the military equivalent of being fired. Troops can be discharged for reasons like testing positive for drugs or repeatedly showing up late. And in recent years, as the military was downsized, misconduct discharges surged. Of those discharged, 57,000 had a diagnosis of PTSD, traumatic brain injury (known as T.B.I.) or a related condition. About 9,000 were found to have PTSD or T.B.I. But a majority had a personality disorder or an adjustment disorder — diagnoses that count as pre-existing conditions, not war wounds. Critics of the military’s handling of mental health have long accused the military of using such diagnoses to sidestep safeguards put in place for troops with PTSD. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 23626 - Posted: 05.17.2017

Jon Hamilton A little spit may help predict whether a child's concussion symptoms will subside in days or persist for weeks. A test that measures fragments of genetic material in saliva was nearly 90 percent accurate in identifying children and adolescents whose symptoms persisted for at least a month, a Penn State team told the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco, Calif. In contrast, a concussion survey commonly used by doctors was right less than 70 percent of the time. If the experimental test pans out, "a pediatrician could collect saliva with a swab, send it off to the lab and then be able to call the family the next day," says Steven Hicks, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Penn State Hershey. Hicks helped develop the test and consults for a company that hopes to market concussion tests. A reliable test would help overcome a major obstacle in assessing and treating concussions, which affect more than one million children and adolescents in the U.S. each year. Many of the injuries are related to sports. In most cases, concussion symptoms last only a few days. But up to 25 percent of young patients "go on to have these prolonged headaches, fatigue, nausea, and those symptoms can last sometimes one to four months," Hicks says. And, right now, there's no way to know which kids are going to have long-term problems, he says. "Parents often say that their biggest concern is, 'When is my child going to be back to normal again?' " Hicks says. "And that's something we have a very difficult time predicting." © 2017 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 23567 - Posted: 05.04.2017

Jon Hamilton The U.S. military is trying to figure out whether certain heavy weapons are putting U.S. troops in danger. The concern centers on the possibility of brain injuries from shoulder-fired weapons like the Carl Gustaf, a recoilless rifle that resembles a bazooka and is powerful enough to blow up a tank. A single round for the Carl Gustaf can weigh nearly 10 pounds. The shell leaves the gun's barrel at more than 500 miles per hour. And as the weapon fires, it directs an explosive burst of hot gases out of the back of the barrel. For safety reasons, troops are trained to take positions to the side of weapons like this. Even so, they get hit by powerful blast waves coming from both the muzzle and breech. "It feels like you get punched in your whole body," is the way one Army gunner described the experience in a military video made in Afghanistan. "The blast bounces off the ground and it overwhelms you." During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military recognized that the blast from a roadside bomb could injure a service member's brain without leaving a scratch. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops sustained this sort of mild traumatic brain injury, which has been linked to long-term problems ranging from memory lapses to post-traumatic stress disorder. Also during those wars, the military began to consider the effects on the brain of repeated blasts from weapons like the Carl Gustaf. And some members of Congress became concerned. © 2017 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 9: Hearing, Vestibular Perception, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language; Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 23451 - Posted: 04.05.2017

By Des Bieler Brain injuries are a danger in many sports, but for none more than football and its most profitable enterprise, the National Football League. The NFL is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a concussion-lawsuit settlement and has poured tens of millions into research on measuring and preventing head trauma. Now some scientists are using an NFL-backed technology to examine blood samples for proteins that have been shown to correlate with concussion and other injuries. One of the most intriguing of these proteins, which could help create better tests for traumatic brain injury, is called neurofilament light — or, as it’s known for short, NFL. That’s right, a protein called “NFL” may wind up helping the NFL address its most vexing medical problem. “It's just a remarkable coincidence,” said Kevin Hrusovsky, chief executive of Quanterix, a company that has received $800,000 in grant money from the NFL through the league's “Head Health Challenge” partnership with GE. Quanterix's technology allows users to zero in on molecules with such precision that Hrusovsky likened it to “being able to see a grain of sand in 2,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.” That is crucial, because only tiny amounts of the proteins, referred to as “biomarkers,” dribble across the blood-brain barrier from the cerebrospinal fluid around the brain, where they would be found in larger quantities. The ability to spot sub-concussion injuries is important because they often go undetected by conventional methods and yet are increasingly seen as major threats to long-term health. The problem with simply sampling athletes' cerebrospinal fluid, of course, is that requires a lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, which is a lot to ask in the middle of a football game (or in any other time and place, for that matter). Pricking an athlete's finger for a blood test and getting the results 15 to 20 minutes later makes for a much more reasonable process, albeit one still a long way from implementation. © 1996-2017 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Brain Asymmetry, Spatial Cognition, and Language
Link ID: 23414 - Posted: 03.28.2017