Links for Keyword: Brain Injury/Concussion

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By Ken Belson SHICKLEY, Neb. — Chris Eitzmann seemed to excel at everything until he didn’t. He parlayed a Harvard football captaincy into an invite in 2000 to Patriots training camp. After bouncing around the N.F.L., Eitzmann retired from pro football in 2002, got an M.B.A. from Dartmouth and worked at several big financial firms in Boston, where he and his wife, Mikaela, had four children. By 2015, however, Chris began a descent that has become familiar to former football players afflicted with C.T.E., or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head. Chris had loved mountain biking, running and lifting weights, but he quit exercising and drank to excess. After a move to Mikaela’s family farm back in their home state of Nebraska two years later, Chris’s behavior became more alarming. He would disappear for long stretches of the day and neglect his work. His drinking got worse, and she said he would sometimes drive drunk. In December 2021, Chris Eitzmann was found dead in his Boston apartment of alcohol poisoning at 44. Almost a year later, doctors at Boston University found that he had C.T.E., a disease that can still only be diagnosed posthumously. Mikaela said that knowing whether her husband had the disease while he was alive would have markedly changed the final years of his life. “If he had known that it really was something, and not just this endless vacuum of not knowing, if he had an idea that he could have grabbed on to, that clarity and understanding would have been so valuable,” she said. Without treatment options, a C.T.E. diagnosis could provide only clarity for former players such as Eitzmann who have reason to believe they may be affected. But it could eventually help current players make risk assessments about when to give up tackle football and help former players seek treatment. © 2022 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization
Link ID: 28561 - Posted: 11.19.2022

By Ken Belson AMSTERDAM — For the first time since 2016, one of the most influential groups guiding doctors, trainers and sports leagues on concussions met last month to decide, among other things, if it was time to recognize the causal relationship between repeated head hits and the degenerative brain disease known as C.T.E. Despite mounting evidence and a highly regarded U.S. government agency recently acknowledging the link, the group all but decided it was not. Leaders of the International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport, meeting in Amsterdam, signaled that it would continue its long practice of casting doubt on the connection between the ravages of head trauma and sports. C.T.E., or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, was first identified in boxers in 1928 and burst into prominence in 2005, when scientists published their posthumous diagnosis of the disease in the N.F.L. Hall of Fame center Mike Webster, creating an existential crisis for sports such as football and rugby that involve players hitting their heads thousands of times a year. Scientists have spent the past decade analyzing hundreds of brains from athletes and military veterans, and the variable evident in nearly every case of C.T.E. has been their exposure to repeated head trauma. Researchers have also established what they call a dose response between the severity of the C.T.E. and the number of years playing collision sports. After playing down an association between head injuries and brain damage for years, the N.F.L. in 2016 acknowledged that there was a link between football and degenerative brain disorders such as C.T.E. Just days before the conference in Amsterdam, the National Institutes of Health, the biggest funder of brain research in the United States, said that C.T.E. “is caused in part by repeated traumatic brain injuries.” But in one of the final sessions of the three-day conference, one of the leaders of the conference, a neuropsychologist who has received $1.5 million in research funding from the N.F.L., dismissed the work of scientists who have documented C.T.E. in hundreds of athletes and soldiers because he said their studies thus far did not account for other health variables, including heart disease, diabetes and substance abuse. © 2022 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization
Link ID: 28543 - Posted: 11.09.2022

By Laura Sanders In a football game on September 25, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa got the pass off but he got knocked down. Fans watched him shake his head and stumble to the ground as he tried to jog it off. After a medical check, he went back into the game against the Buffalo Bills with what his coach later said was a back injury. Four days later, in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Tagovailoa, 24, got hit again. This time, he left the field on a stretcher with what was later diagnosed as a concussion. Many observers suspect that the first hit — given Tagovailoa’s subsequent headshaking and wobbliness — left the athlete with a concussion, also called a mild traumatic brain injury. If those were indeed signs of a head injury, that first hit may have lined him up for an even worse brain injury just days later. “The science tells us that yes, a person who is still recovering from a concussion is at an elevated risk for sustaining another concussion,” says Kristen Dams-O’Connor, a neuropsychologist and director of the Brain Injury Research Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. As one example, a concussion roughly doubled the chance of a second one among young Swedish men, researchers reported in 2013 in the British Medical Journal. “This, I think, was avoidable,” Dams-O’Connor says of Tagovailoa’s brain injury in the game against the Bengals. After a hit to the head, when the soft brain hits the unyielding skull, the injury kicks off a cascade of changes. Some nerve cells become overactive, inflammation sets in, and blood flow is altered. These downstream events in the brain — and how they relate to concussion symptoms — can happen over hours and days, and are not easy to quickly measure, Dams-O’Connor says. © Society for Science & the Public 2000–2022.

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization
Link ID: 28506 - Posted: 10.08.2022

By Dan Diamond A high-profile NFL injury has put the spotlight back on football’s persistent concussions, which are linked to head trauma and a variety of long-lasting symptoms, and can be worsened by rushing back to physical activity. Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who appeared to suffer head trauma in a game Sunday afternoon that was later described as a back injury, was diagnosed with a concussion Thursday night following a tackle. After Tagovailoa’s head hit the turf, he remained on the ground and held his arms and fingers splayed in front of his face — which experts said evoked conditions known as “decorticate posturing” or “fencing response,” where brain damage triggers the involuntary reaction. “It’s a potentially life-threatening brain injury,” said Chris Nowinski, a neuroscientist and co-founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit group focused on concussion research and prevention, adding that he worried about Tagovailoa’s long-term prognosis, given that it can take months or years for an athlete to fully recover from repeated concussions. Nowinski said he was particularly concerned about situations where people suffer two concussions within a short period — a condition sometimes known as second impact syndrome — which can lead to brain swelling and other persistent problems. “That’s why we should at least be cautious with the easy stuff, like withholding players with a concussion from the game and letting their brain recover,” Nowinski said. The Dolphins said Tagovailoa had movement in all of his extremities and had been discharged Thursday night from University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The NFL’s top health official said in an interview on Friday that he was worried about Tagovailoa’s health, and pointed to a joint review the league and its players association was conducting into the Dolphins’ handling of the quarterback’s initial injury on Sunday.

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization
Link ID: 28501 - Posted: 10.05.2022

A study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that biomarkers present in the blood on the day of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can accurately predict a patient’s risk of death or severe disability six months later. Measuring these biomarkers may enable a more accurate assessment of patient prognosis following TBI, according to results published today in Lancet Neurology. Researchers with the Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in TBI (TRACK-TBI(link is external)) study examined levels of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and ubiquitin carboxy-terminal hydrolase L1 (UCH-L1)—proteins found in glial cells and neurons, respectively—in nearly 1,700 patients with TBI. TRACK-TBI is an observational study aimed at improving understanding and diagnosis of TBIs to develop successful treatments. The study team measured the biomarkers in blood samples taken from patients with TBI on the day of their injury and then evaluated their recovery six months later. Participants were recruited from 18 high-level trauma centers across the United States. More than half (57%) had suffered TBI as the result of a road traffic accident. The study showed that GFAP and UCH-L1 levels on the day of injury were strong predictors of death and unfavorable outcomes, such as vegetative state or severe disability requiring daily assistance to function. Those with biomarker levels among the highest fifth were at greatest risk of death in the six months post-TBI, with most occurring within the first month. GFAP and UCH-1 are currently used to aid in the detection of TBI. Elevated levels in the blood on the day of the TBI are linked to brain injury visible with neuroimaging. In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved use of these biomarkers to help clinicians decide whether to order a head CT scan to examine the brain after mild TBI.

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization
Link ID: 28433 - Posted: 08.13.2022

By Erin Blakemore There’s growing consensus on the danger of sport-related concussion — and how to treat athletes after head injuries. But the research at the heart of those recommendations has a fatal flaw, a new study suggests: It relies almost exclusively on male athletes. In a review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a national team of medical and concussion experts looked at 171 concussion studies cited by the three most influential consensus and position statements on sport-related concussion. These documents update professionals on how to treat athletes with concussions, providing important protocols for clinicians and setting the agenda for future research. Although the statements define the standard of care, the study suggests, they are based on data that largely excludes female athletes. Participants in the underlying studies were 80.1 percent male. Among the studies, 40.3 percent didn’t look at female athletes at all; only 25 percent of them had roughly equal male and female participation. Researchers said there could be several reasons for the disparity such as women’s historic exclusion from sports and professional sports organizations with no female counterpart. Women’s sports are underrepresented among groups that sponsor concussion research, they write. Bias in the sciences could have an effect, too: women are still underrepresented in both university faculties and scientific research. Because of the research gap, it isn’t yet clear whether females respond to concussions differently than males. Both sex and gender can cause medical conditions to develop — and be experienced, reported and treated — differently.

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 28432 - Posted: 08.13.2022

By Sam Jones Watching a woodpecker repeatedly smash its face into a tree, it’s hard not to wonder how its brain stays intact. For years, the prevailing theory has been that structures in and around a woodpecker’s skull absorb the shocks created during pecking. “Blogs and information panels at zoos all present this as fact — that shock absorption is occurring in woodpeckers,” said Sam Van Wassenbergh, a biologist at the University of Antwerp. Woodpeckers have even inspired the engineering of shock-absorbing materials and gear, like football helmets. But now, after analyzing high-speed footage of woodpeckers in action, Dr. Van Wassenbergh and colleagues are challenging this long-held belief. They discovered that woodpeckers are not absorbing shocks during pecking and they likely aren’t being concussed by using their heads like hammers. Their work was published in Current Biology on Thursday. When a woodpecker slams its beak into a tree, it generates a shock. If something in a woodpecker’s skull were absorbing these shocks before they reached the brain — the way a car’s airbag absorbs shocks in an accident before they reach a passenger — then, on impact, a woodpecker’s head would decelerate more slowly compared with its beak. With this in mind, the researchers analyzed high-speed videos of six woodpeckers (three species, two birds each) hammering away into a tree. They tracked two points on each bird’s beak and one point on its eye to mark its brain’s location. They found that the eye decelerated at the same rate as the beak and, in a couple of cases, even more quickly, which meant that — at the very least — the woodpecker was not absorbing any shock during pecking. © 2022 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization
Link ID: 28403 - Posted: 07.16.2022

By Nikk Ogasa A flexible sensor applied to the back of the neck could help researchers detect whiplash-induced concussions in athletes. The sensor, described June 23 in Scientific Reports, is about the size of a bandage and is sleeker and more accurate than some instruments currently in use, says electrical engineer Nelson Sepúlveda of Michigan State University in East Lansing. “My hope is that it will lead to earlier diagnosis of concussions.” Bulky accelerometers in helmets are sometimes used to monitor for concussion in football players. But since the devices are not attached directly to athletes’ bodies, the sensors are prone to false readings from sliding helmets. Sepúlveda and colleagues’ patch adheres to the nape. It is made of two electrodes on an almost paper-thin piece of piezoelectric film, which generates an electric charge when stretched or compressed. When the head and neck move, the patch transmits electrical pulses to a computer. Researchers can analyze those signals to assess sudden movements that can cause concussion. The team tried out the patch on the neck of a human test dummy, dropping the figure from a height of about 60 centimeters. Researchers also packed the dummy’s head with different sensors to provide a baseline level of neck strain. Data from the patch aligned with data gathered by the internal sensors more than 90 percent of the time, Sepúlveda and colleagues found. The researchers are now working on incorporating a wireless transmitter into the patch for an even more streamlined design. © Society for Science & the Public 2000–2022.

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization
Link ID: 28383 - Posted: 06.30.2022

By Laura Sanders Punishing headbutts damage the brains of musk oxen. That observation, made for the first time and reported May 17 in Acta Neuropathologica, suggests that a life full of bell-ringing clashes is not without consequences, even in animals built to bash. Although a musk ox looks like a dirty dust mop on four tiny hooves, it’s formidable. When charging, it can reach speeds up to 60 kilometers an hour before ramming its head directly into an oncoming head. People expected that musk oxen brains could withstand these merciless forces largely unscathed, “that they were magically perfect,” says Nicole Ackermans of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “No one actually checked.” In fact, the brains of three wild musk oxen (two females and one male) showed signs of extensive damage, Ackermans and her colleagues found. The damage was similar to what’s seen in people with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disorder known to be caused by repetitive head hits (SN: 12/13/17). In the musk ox brains, a form of a protein called tau had accumulated in patterns that suggested brain bashing was to blame. In an unexpected twist, the brains of the females, who hit heads less frequently than males, were worse off than the male’s. The male body, with its heavier skull, stronger neck muscles and forehead fat pads, may cushion the blows to the brain, the researchers suspect. The results may highlight an evolutionary balancing act; the animals can endure just enough brain damage to allow them to survive and procreate. High-level brainwork may not matter much, Ackermans says. “Their day-to-day life is not super complicated.” © Society for Science & the Public 2000–2022.

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization
Link ID: 28341 - Posted: 05.28.2022

Dave Davies Did Stone Age people conduct brain surgery? Medical historian Ira Rutkow points to evidence that suggests they did. "There have been many instances of skulls that have been found dating back to Neolithic times that have grooves in them where portions of the skull have been removed. And it's evident if you look at these skulls, that this was all done by hand," Rutkow says. There's no written record of Stone Age neurosurgery, but Rutkow theorizes it may have been conducted by a shaman on patients who were comatose or who had been otherwise injured. What's more, he says, physical evidence indicates that some patients likely survived: "With many of these older skulls, new bone growth had already formed, and bone in the skull can only form if the patient is alive," he says. Rutkow is a surgeon himself. His new book, Empire of the Scalpel, traces the history of surgery, from the days when barbers did most operations and patients died in great numbers, to today's high tech operations that use robots with artificial intelligence. He says that when looking back, it's important to keep in mind the body of knowledge that existed at a particular point in history — and to not judge surgeons of yore too harshly. "People write about medical history and they say, 'Oh, it was barbaric,' or 'The doctors were maltreating,'" he says. "We have to remember at all times that whatever I write about in the past was considered state of the art at the time. ... I would hate to think that 200 years from now, somebody is looking at what we are doing today and saying, 'Boy, that treatment that they were doing was just barbaric. How do they do that to people?'" © 2022 npr

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 6: Evolution of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization
Link ID: 28257 - Posted: 03.30.2022

By Ken Belson For more than two decades, Paul McCrory has been the world’s foremost doctor shaping the concussion protocols that are used by sports leagues and organizations globally. As the leader of the Concussion in Sport Group, McCrory helped choose the members of the international group and write its quadrennial consensus statement on the latest research on concussions — a veritable bible for leagues, trainers, doctors and academics that an N.F.L. spokesman once called “the foundation of all sports-related research.” But McCrory’s status as a leading gatekeeper for concussion treatment and research is under attack as he faces multiple accusations that he plagiarized other scientists, including in articles for a medical journal that he edited. He has denied intentionally lifting copy without credit, and has called one since-retracted piece an “isolated and unfortunate incident.” The scandal facing the pre-eminent doctor, who has long cast doubt on the legitimacy of C.T.E., or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, has raised questions about his relationship to sports leagues and the influence they may have in shaping how the research on brain trauma is interpreted. “It’s concerning because he’s taken the lead on writing a consensus statement that is so influential, and we should have access to his insights,” said Kathleen Bachynski, who teaches public health at Muhlenberg College and has written about head trauma in sports. “McCrory’s research agenda and published statements and work as an expert witness come from a point of view of minimizing C.T.E.” McCrory’s prominence grew as sports leagues looked for consensus on concussions. McCrory’s rise to power in concussion circles is notable partly because he is based in Australia, far from the research centers studying head trauma in Europe and America. A neurologist at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, McCrory worked for 15 years as a team doctor for the Collingwood Football Club, an Australian rules football team in Melbourne, beginning around 1990. He came to advise the Australian Football League, as well as Formula 1 racing, boxing, soccer, rugby and a who’s who of sports organizations, including the International Olympic Committee, FIFA and the International Ice Hockey Federation, at the turn of the century. © 2022 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization
Link ID: 28249 - Posted: 03.23.2022

By Christa Hillstrom To hear more audio stories from publications like The New York Times, download Audm for iPhone or Android. In 2017, when Becky was about to turn 40, she woke up in the middle of the night and was startled by her reflection in the bathroom mirror. Her face, gaunt from weight loss, looked pale. A scar snaked under her chin from when her boyfriend punched her. Her nostrils were now asymmetrical from when he broke her nose. Smaller scars marked her eyebrows and her bottom lip, where a tooth once cut through. She always wore her hair in a bun to mask a bald spot; he had slammed her head against a door frame, and she had needed staples there. She could barely hear from one ear. Her chipped front tooth was harder to hide than the broken molars knocked loose during two decades of beatings. When she went shopping, she would hold items in her hands, assessing how much damage they would do to her body. She had stopped buying leather belts, the braided kind. She remembered getting some of her injuries. With others, the memories hung fuzzy and distant. They met in 1996, when she was a teenager with a new baby. She had already spent years raising her younger siblings when her own mother, who suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of domestic abuse, could not. The first time Becky remembers her boyfriend hurting her, about six months into their relationship, was when he was joking around: a tug on her hair that was surprisingly forceful. Underneath the laughing, something felt mean. And then the meanness got darker. From the beginning of their relationship, Becky’s boyfriend drew the reins tightly around their lives. She could never predict what would set him off. Some days, he attacked her for sleeping too late; others, for waking him up too early. He hit her when the house was too messy or if he wasn’t in the mood for the breakfast she made. Becky, who asked to be identified by a nickname for her safety, often showed up to work with bruises on her face, caked over with foundation, but her co-workers never said anything. © 2022 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 28229 - Posted: 03.02.2022

By Benjamin Mueller It appeared to be an ordinary fall: Bob Saget, the actor and comedian, knocked his head on something and, perhaps thinking nothing of it, went to sleep, his family said on Wednesday. But the chilling consequences — Mr. Saget, 65, died some hours later on Jan. 9 from blunt head trauma, a medical examiner ruled — have underscored the dangers of traumatic brain injuries, even those that do not initially seem to be causes for alarm. Some 61,000 deaths in 2019 were related to traumatic brain injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and nearly half of head trauma-related hospitalizations result from falls. Brain injury experts said on Thursday that Mr. Saget’s case was relatively uncommon: People with serious head trauma would be expected to have noticeable symptoms, like a headache, nausea or confusion. And they can generally be saved by surgeons opening up their skull and relieving pressure on the brain from bleeding. But certain situations put people at higher risk for the sort of deterioration that Mr. Saget experienced, doctors said. As serious a risk factor as any, doctors said, is simply being alone. Someone with a head injury can lose touch with their usual decision-making capacities and become confused, agitated or unusually sleepy. Those symptoms, in turn, can stand in the way of getting help. And while there was no indication that Mr. Saget was taking blood thinners, experts said the medications can greatly accelerate the type of bleeding after a head injury that forces the brain downward and compresses the centers that regulate breathing and other vital functions. More Americans are being prescribed these drugs as the population ages. Mr. Saget had been in an Orlando hotel room during a weekend of stand-up comedy acts when he was found unresponsive. The local medical examiner’s office announced on Wednesday that his death resulted from “blunt head trauma,” and said that “his injuries were most likely incurred from an unwitnessed fall.” © 2022 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization
Link ID: 28201 - Posted: 02.12.2022

Jeanne Paz Blocking an immune system molecule that accumulates after traumatic brain injury could significantly reduce the injury’s detrimental effects, according to a recent mouse study my neuroscience lab and I published in the journal Science. The cerebral cortex, the part of the brain involved in thinking, memory and language, is often the primary site of head injury because it sits directly beneath the skull. However, we found that another region near the center of the brain that regulates sleep and attention, the thalamus, was even more damaged than the cortex months after the injury. This may be due to increased levels of a molecule called C1q, which triggers a part of the immune system called the classical complement pathway. This pathway plays a key role in rapidly clearing pathogens and dead cells from the body and helps control the inflammatory immune response. C1q plays both helpful and harmful roles in the brain. On the one hand, accumulation of C1q in the brain can trigger abnormal elimination of synapses – the structures that allow neurons to communicate with one another – and contribute to neurodegenerative disease. On the other hand, C1q is also involved in normal brain development and protects the central nervous system from infection. In the case of traumatic brain injury, we found that C1q lingered in the thalamus at abnormally high levels for months after the initial injury and was associated with inflammation, dysfunctional brain circuits and neuronal death. This suggests that higher levels of C1q in the thalamus could contribute to several long-term effects of traumatic brain injury, such as sleep disruption and epilepsy. © 2010–2021, The Conversation US, Inc.

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 28112 - Posted: 12.15.2021

Jon Hamilton Headaches, nausea, dizziness, and confusion are among the most common symptoms of a concussion. But researchers say a blow to the head can also make it hard to understand speech in a noisy room. "Making sense of sound is one of the hardest jobs that we ask our brains to do," says Nina Kraus, a professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University. "So you can imagine that a concussion, getting hit in the head, really does disrupt sound processing." About 15% to 20% of concussions cause persistent sound-processing difficulties, Kraus says, which suggests that hundreds of thousands of people are affected each year in the U.S. The problem is even more common in the military, where many of the troops who saw combat in Iraq and Afghanistan sustained concussions from roadside bombs. From ear to brain Our perception of sound starts with nerve cells in the inner ear that transform pressure waves into electrical signals, Kraus says. But it takes a lot of brain power to transform those signals into the auditory world we perceive. Article continues after sponsor message The brain needs to compare the signals from two ears to determine the source of a sound. Then it needs to keep track of changes in volume, pitch, timing and other characteristics. Kraus's lab, called Brainvolts, is conducting a five-year study of 500 elite college athletes to learn how a concussion can affect the brain's ability to process the huge amount of auditory information it receives. And she devotes an entire chapter to concussion in her 2021 book, Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World. © 2021 npr

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 9: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 6: Hearing, Balance, Taste, and Smell
Link ID: 28064 - Posted: 11.06.2021

By Jackie Rocheleau Elevated blood levels of a specific protein may help scientists predict who has a better chance of bouncing back from a traumatic brain injury. The protein, called neurofilament light or NfL for short, lends structural support to axons, the tendrils that send messages between brain cells. Levels of NfL peak on average at 10 times the typical level 20 days after injury and stay above normal a year later, researchers report September 29 in Science Translational Medicine. The higher the peak NfL blood concentrations after injury, the tougher the recovery for people with TBI six and 12 months later, shows the study of 197 people treated at eight trauma centers across Europe for moderate to severe TBI. Brain scans of 146 participants revealed that their peak NfL concentrations predicted the extent of brain shrinkage after six months, and axon damage at six and 12 months after injury, neurologist Neil Graham of Imperial College London and his colleagues found. These researchers also had a unique opportunity to check that the blood biomarker, which gives indirect clues about the brain injury, actually measured what was happening in the brain. In 18 of the participants that needed brain surgery, researchers sampled the fluid surrounding injured neurons. NfL concentrations there correlated with NfL concentrations in the blood. “The work shows that a new ultrasensitive blood test can be used to accurately diagnose traumatic brain injury,” says Graham. “This blood test can predict quite precisely who’s going to make a good recovery and who’s going to have more difficulties.” © Society for Science & the Public 2000–2021.

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization
Link ID: 28017 - Posted: 10.02.2021

Katharine Sanderson Liz Williams was standing pitchside at a women’s rugby match, and she did not like what she was seeing. Williams, who researches forensic biomechanics at Swansea University, UK, had equipped some of the players with a mouthguard that contained a sensor to measure the speed of head movement. She wanted to understand more about head injuries in the brutal sport. “There were a few instances when my blood went cold,” Williams said. When the women fell in a tackle, their heads would often whiplash into the ground. The sensors showed that the skull was accelerating — indicating an increased risk of brain injury. But medical staff at the match, not trained to look out for this type of head movement as a cause of injury, deemed the women fine to play on. Such whiplash injuries are much rarer when males play. Williams’ observations highlight an increasingly apparent problem. A growing body of data suggests that female athletes are at significantly greater risk of a traumatic brain injury event than male athletes. They also fare worse after a concussion and take longer to recover. As researchers gather more data, the picture becomes steadily more alarming. Female athletes are speaking out about their own experiences, including Sue Lopez, the United Kingdom’s first semi-professional female football player in the 1970s, who now has dementia — a diagnosis she has linked to concussions from heading the ball. Researchers have offered some explanations for the greater risk to women, although the science is at an early stage. Their ideas range from differences in the microstructure of the brain to the influence of hormones, coaching regimes, players’ level of experience and the management of injuries. © 2021 Springer Nature Limited

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 27932 - Posted: 08.04.2021

By Alistair Magowan BBC Sport Defenders are more likely to have dementia in later life compared with other playing positions in football, says new research. In 2019, a study by Professor Willie Stewart found that former footballers were about three and a half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative brain disease than the general population. But his new research says the risk is highest among defenders, who are five times more likely to have dementia than non-footballers. That compared with three times the risk for forwards, and almost no extra risk for goalkeepers compared with the population. Outfield players were four times more likely to have brain disease such as dementia. The research by the University of Glasgow, which was funded by the Football Association and players' union the Professional Footballers' Association, also found that risk increased the longer a player's football career was. And despite changes in football technology and head-injury management in recent years, there was no evidence that neurodegenerative disease risk changed for footballers in this study, whose careers spanned from about 1930 to the late 1990s. 'Footballs should be sold with a health warning about heading' Study author and consultant neuropathologist Dr Stewart said that it was time for football to eliminate the risk of heading, which he said could also cause short-term impairment of brain function. "I think footballs should be sold with a health warning saying repeated heading in football may lead to increased risks of dementia," he said. "Unlike other dementias and degenerative diseases, where we have no idea what causes them, we know the risk factor [with football] and it's entirely preventable. © 2021 BBC.

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization
Link ID: 27931 - Posted: 08.04.2021

Bob McDonald Scientists used raw eggs to simulate the damaging effects on the brain from strikes to the head, with surprising results. If someone calls you an egghead, they are not too far off. Think about it: an egg has a hard outer shell; a liquid interior, which is the white of the egg; and liquid yolk surrounded by a membrane suspended in the centre. Your head also has a hard outer skull and liquid, called the cerebrospinal fluid, inside of it — which, among other things, acts as a shock absorber around the squishy brain. In a research paper in the journal Physics of Fluids, scientists from Villanova University in Pennsylvania conducted rather simple kitchen style experiments on raw eggs to simulate strikes to the head that could lead to concussion. They wanted to determine how much shock absorbing protection the egg white would provide the yolk and how much the yolk would be distorted out of shape during an impact. The results were not what they expected. Applying force to monitor yolk deformation In order to see the yolks in action, the egg material was placed in a clear plastic container that was mounted on springs and filmed with high speed cameras. First, they hit it in a straight line by dropping a 1.77 kg weight on it from a height of one metre. representing a direct blow to the head. To their surprise, the yolk remained suspended in the egg white and did not change shape or break as the container suddenly accelerated downwards. This could be because liquids cannot be compressed, and since the two liquids are almost the same density, both of them moved together as one unit. ©2021 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization
Link ID: 27658 - Posted: 01.23.2021

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health have discovered Jekyll and Hyde immune cells in the brain that ultimately help with brain repair but early after injury can lead to fatal swelling, suggesting that timing may be critical when administering treatment. These dual-purpose cells, which are called myelomonocytic cells and which are carried to the brain by the blood, are just one type of brain immune cell that NIH researchers tracked, watching in real-time as the brain repaired itself after injury. The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Intramural Research Program at NIH. “Fixing the brain after injury is a highly orchestrated, coordinated process, and giving a treatment at the wrong time could end up doing more harm than good,” said Dorian McGavern, Ph.D., NINDS scientist and senior author of the study. Cerebrovascular injury, or damage to brain blood vessels, can occur following several conditions including traumatic brain injury or stroke. Dr. McGavern, along with Larry Latour, M.D., NINDS scientist, and their colleagues, observed that a subset of stroke patients developed bleeding and swelling in the brain after surgical removal of the blood vessel clot responsible for the stroke. The swelling, also known as edema, results in poor outcomes and can even be fatal as brain structures become compressed and further damaged. To understand how vessel injury can lead to swelling and to identify potential treatment strategies, Dr. McGavern and his team developed an animal model of cerebrovascular injury and used state-of-the-art microscopic imaging to watch how the brain responded to the damage in real-time.

Related chapters from BN: Chapter 19: Language and Lateralization
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 15: Language and Lateralization
Link ID: 27653 - Posted: 01.20.2021