Articles Posted in Brain Injury

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Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine recently published the findings from their study of 202 donated brains of former football players in the Journal of the American Medical Association (“JAMA”). The study examined former National Football (“NFL”) Players and found that 110 out of the 111 brains exhibited

(“CTE”). CTE is a disease found in the brain of individuals who have suffered repeated blows to the head. What was remarkable about this study was that the CTE afflicted not only NFL players but high school football players as well! Out of the 202 deceased football players’ brains (NFL, college and high school players combined), 88% of them had CTE. Mild levels of CTE were detected in 3 out of 11 of the high school football players.  Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed after death, but there are signs that can point to an individual having CTE. Some typical symptoms of CTE, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), are decline of recent memory and executive function, depression, impulsivity, aggressiveness, anger, irritability, suicidal behavior, and dementia. Although there are various symptoms to spot CTE, these symptoms usually do not appear until many years after the initial trauma.

Auto racing associations have also been looking at the effect that crashes have on the  drivers’ brains. In 2014, NASCAR, IMSA, and IndyCar mandated a concussion test for all drivers before their race season began. This test measured each driver’s neurocognitive functions in order to compare them to scans taken after the driver were involved significant collisions. This preseason concussion test had previously helped driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2012 when he sustained two concussions in the span of 6 weeks. In a USA Today article, Earnhardt reported that the preseason testing had allowed his doctors to pinpoint exactly what type of brain injury he had suffered and bettered helped them address it.

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FabNFree-Free-Vintage-Brain-Graphic-256x300The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that approximately 2.8 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year. Out of these 2.8 million, the CDC states: 50,000 die; 282,000 are hospitalized; and 1.365 million, nearly 80 percent, are treated and released from an emergency department.  Looking at this CDC’s report reveals the stark reality of the impact of TBIs:

“Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States. TBIs contribute to about 30 percent of all injury deaths. Every day, 153 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI. Those who survive a TBI can face effects that last a few days or the rest of their lives. Effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression). These issues not only affect individuals but can have lasting effects on families and communities.”

The brain, although protected by the skull, is extremely sensitive. According to Mayo Clinic, the brain has the consistency of gelatin, and is cushioned from everyday jolts and bumps by cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull. A concussion is defined as “…a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. Although there may be cuts or bruises on the head or face, there may be no other visible signs of a brain injury.” These blows cause the brain to slide back and forth forcefully against the inner walls of the skull. Symptoms of a concussion may include, headaches, pressure in the head, temporary loss of consciousness, confusion, memory loss, dizziness, ringing in the ears, nausea, slurred speech, delayed response, appearing dazed, and fatigue.