Concussions cause brain abnormalities similar to Alzheimer’s

brainMore and more research has raised concern over the dangers of concussions – one of the most common forms of head trauma – as many sufferers go on to experience persistent neurological symptoms throughout their lives.

Now, scientists have discovered a clue as to why mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI) can have such long-lasting health consequences.

In a study published in the journal Radiology, researchers found that white matter damage in the brains of people who had experienced concussions closely resembled the type of white matter damage found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.  These findings suggest that concussions set off a chain of neurological events that can cause long-term damage to the brain.

“It’s not the hitting your head that’s the problem.  It’s everything else that happens after that,” said lead study author Dr. Saeed Fakhran, assistant professor of radiology in the Division of Neuroradiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

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Concussion – The brain in crisis

Concussion injury — which is a form of traumatic brain injury — is commonplace on playing fields. Recent estimates indicate head trauma due to contact sports occurs nearly 3.8 million times a year in the U.S.

Concern has grown over concussion brain injuries in professional athletes as well as in teens and children. Youngsters — whose brains are still developing — are competing at ever-earlier ages in concussion-prone contact sports. The concern spotlights the need for more awareness of concussion dangers and how to prevent them.

A concussion occurs when there’s a blow to the head or a sudden jolt that shakes the head and causes the brain’s gelatin-like cortex to rapidly collide into or bounce off the inside of your skull or to rotate within it. When it occurs, the brain’s function is altered. Loss of consciousness may or may not happen, which is one of the reasons some concussions go unrecognized. [Read more…]

Chronic Daily Headache in U.S. Soldiers After Concussion

Objective.— To determine the prevalence and characteristics of, and factors associated with, chronic daily headache (CDH) in U.S. soldiers after a deployment-related concussion.

Methods.— A cross-sectional, questionnaire-based study was conducted with a cohort of 978 U.S. soldiers who screened positive for a deployment-related concussion upon returning from Iraq or Afghanistan. All soldiers underwent a clinical evaluation at the Madigan Traumatic Brain Injury Program that included a history, physical examination, 13-item self-administered headache questionnaire, and a battery of cognitive and psychological assessments. Soldiers with CDH, defined as headaches occurring on 15 or more days per month for the previous 3 months, were compared to soldiers with episodic headaches occurring less than 15 days per month. [Read more…]