It's Not Just Concussions That Can Cause Cognitive Damage in Athletes
US News & World Report / December 12, 2013
Even without getting a concussion, taking hits to the head still has the potential to affect a person's learning and memory abilities, depending on the strength of the blows and how frequently they occur. In new research from the Indiana University School of Medicine, published in the journal Neurology Wednesday, Thomas McAllister and colleagues came to that conclusion after observing college athletes in contact sports (football and ice hockey) and non-contact sports (track, crew and skiing). Of the 80 concussion-free varsity football and ice hockey players, and the 79 non-contact sport athletes from Dartmouth College, those playing contact sports were nearly twice as likely as others to fall into a subgroup of low-performing athletes. The researchers gave the athletes a test of verbal learning and memory at the beginning of the season, and at the end of the season. In both groups, a subset of athletes performed more than 1.5 standard deviations below expected at the end of the season: 20 percent of the contact players, compared with 11 percent of the non-contact players.
Study Links Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD
Stars and Stripes / December 12, 2013
Traumatic brain injuries during deployments appear to increase the risk of troops experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder after returning home, according to Department of Veterans Affairs-sponsored research published Wednesday. In some cases, a servicemembers’ chance of acquiring PTSD was doubled by serious head or brain injuries suffered while deployed, the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry found. The findings add to a growing body of research on the long-term psychological and physical consequences of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan where improvised explosive devices have often been the enemy’s weapon of choice, and head trauma — as well as psychological struggles afterdeployment — has proliferated. Past studies have shown the symptoms of TBI and PTSD overlap, and the research by the VA-funded Marine Resiliency Study made public this week adds evidence of a causal connection.
What a Concussion Looks Like Inside Your Brain
PBS Newshour / December 12, 2013
Concussions and traumatic brain injuries have been receiving national attention lately. Former football players reached a $765 million settlement against the NFL stemming from a lawsuit where they claimed to have memory loss, depression, headaches and dizziness after multiple head injuries during their careers. It's not just athletes; the U.S. Department of Defense estimates that 22 percent of all combat injuries are traumatic brain injuries. But what happens to the brain right after a concussion? Researchers at the National Institute of Health peered into the brains of mice and watched how a traumatic brain injury progresses over a day. Their findings, published in the journal Nature this week, showed that a single concussion can cause cell death in the brain in a matter of hours.
Prosthetic Device for the Brain Restores Lost Function After Traumatic Injury
Medical Daily / December 10, 2013
Stroke victims and other victims of traumatic brain injury (TBI) may one day enjoy restored brain function, as scientists from Case Western Reserve University and University of Kansas Medical Center have successfully tested technology that allowed rat models to regain certain brain functions that had once been lost. In the United States alone, stroke is the leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year, roughly 130,000 Americans die of a stroke, comprising one in every 19 deaths that occur. More generally, at least 1.7 million TBIs occur in a given year, remaining a factor among injury-related deaths nearly 31 percent of the time. These grim portraits of mental health motivated researchers to investigate the brain’s ability to regain function, specifically utilizing a brain-machine-brain interface, which bridges the damaged area of the brain to relay signals across injury.
The King of Sports
National Public Radio / December 10, 2013
Monday Night Football. Super Bowl Sunday. The big homecoming day game. New Year’s college bowls. It’s hard to imagine a sport more American than football. The game hasn’t been embraced anywhere in the world quite like it has in the United States. Gregg Easterbrook, author of the new book, “King of Sports," says without football “there would still be 50 stars on the flag ... but America wouldn’t be quite the same.” But Easterbrook argues the game is in serious need of reform at all levels. Diane Rehm discusses football’s impact on America and what it will take to clean up the sport.
Snowboarder Kevin Pearce Shares Injury And Recovery in ‘The Crash Reel’
WBUR / December 9, 2013
Before December 31st, 2009, Kevin Pearce was one of the most spectacular snowboarders anybody had ever seen. He’d challenged Shaun White, aka “The Flying Tomato,” for the status of top dog in the sport, having won three medals at the 2008 Winter X Games and another one in 2009. He was training in Park City, Utah, for the 2010 Olympics when he crashed. “I tried the trick and ended up coming down on my front edge and resulted in slamming my head to the sheer ice half pipe and left me in a coma,” said Pearce. “So it was pretty intense.” After December 31st, 2009, Kevin Pearce became, among other things, a case study. He didn’t open his eyes for 10 days after the accident. His first memory came a month later. “At the time his eyes were looking different directions,” said Lucy Walker. “He couldn’t remember from one minute to the next meeting me, so he’d keep reintroducing himself.”
Other-Than-Honorable Discharge Burdens Like a Scarlet Letter
National Public Radio / December 9, 2013
Eric Highfill spent five years in the Navy, fixing airplanes for special-operations forces. His discharge papers show an Iraq campaign medal and an Afghanistan campaign medal, a good conduct medal, and that he's a marksman with a pistol and sharpshooter with a rifle. None of that matters, because at the bottom of the page it reads "Discharged: under other than honorable conditions." Highfill, a 27-year-old Michigan native, says he got addicted to the painkillers he was taking for a knee injury. In the Navy's eyes, Highfill screwed up. He got a DUI, among other things, and so they kicked him out. And that means when he went to a VA medical center, they did the same.
Help Is Hard to Get for Veterans After a Bad Discharge
National Public Radio / December 9, 2013
More than 100,000 troops left the service with other-than-honorable discharges in the last 10 years. The consequences of a bad discharge can last a lifetime, disqualifying veterans from benefits and health care. Host Rachel Martin speaks with NPR's Quil Lawrence about his series on these former members of the military.
Epilepsy Patients Help Decode the Brain's Hidden Signals
National Public Radio / December 9, 2013
Patients with severe epilepsy are giving scientists the chance to see the human brain in action, a view they could never get with an MRI or other high-tech tools. By applying small jolts of electricity to the brain, they're able to wipe out a person's ability to , , or even induce a will to persevere, as researchers last week. None of this would be possible without patients like 41-year-old Nate Bennett of Santa Cruz, Calif. He's had since he was a teenager and it's getting worse, to the point where he worries that he'll lose his job as a restaurant manager.
Union in Position to Defend Indefensible
The New York Times / December 9, 2013
The role of the N.H.L. Players’ Association in on-ice disciplinary matters has fallen under the spotlight again after two ugly episodes in Saturday night’s game in Boston, one involving the Pittsburgh Penguins’ James Neal and the other the Bruins’ Shawn Thornton. Neal is scheduled to speak by phone Monday with Brendan Shanahan of the league’s department of player safety after he kneed Brad Marchand, who was lying on the ice, in the head as he skated past. Marchand was not injured on the play. Neal faces a fine and possibly a suspension of up to five games.
To Live Is an Act of Courage
The American Scholar / December 6, 2013
Strong, fierce, smart, and talented, Ajax is one of the greatest warrior heroes in classical mythology. He wins every campaign and every battle he enters, earning the name Ajax Unconquered. Yet as Ovid tells it in the Metamorphoses, “Unconquered, he was conquered by his sorrow”: he dies when he chooses to fall on his own sword. His suicide happens after the greatest warrior of them all, Achilles, is killed, and Ajax and Odysseus defy all common sense in retrieving his body from their enemies, the Trojans.
New Hope for Victims of Traumatic Brain Injury
Science Codex / December 5, 2013
Every year, nearly two million people in the United States suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI), the leading cause of brain damage and permanent disabilities that include motor dysfunction, psychological disorders, and memory loss. Current rehabilitation programs help patients but often achieve limited success. Now Dr. Shai Efrati and Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob of Tel Aviv University's Sagol School of Neuroscience have proven that it is possible to repair brains and improve the quality of life for TBI victims, even years after the occurrence of the injury.
A Journey into Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
The Chicago Tribune / December 3, 2013
Neuro.RAPT presents an exclusive four part bi-weekly docu-byte series on Severe Traumatic Brain Injury for both our veteran and civilian population. The video is led by Dr. Theresa Pape, a clinical neuroscientist at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital and Research Associate Professor at Northwestern University.
Imaging Shows Long-Term Impact of Blast Induced Brain Injuries in Veterans
The Sacramento Bee / December 2, 2013
Using a special type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers have found that soldiers who suffered mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) induced by blast exposure exhibit long-term brain differences, according to a study being presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). Recent wars have resulted in veterans with an exposure rate of approximately 20 percent to blast-induced MTBI, or trauma resulting from mortar fire and improvised explosive devices. Diagnosis can be challenging, especially in mild cases. "Mild traumatic brain injury is difficult to identify using standard CT or MRI," said study co-author P. Tyler Roskos, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist and assistant research professor at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo. "Other methods may have added sensitivity."
Alzheimer's-Like Plaque Seen on Brain Scans After Head Trauma
WebMD / December 2, 2013
New research may help connect the dots between traumatic brain injury and the risk for memory and other brain-related problems later in life. Brain imaging technology known as positron emission tomography (PET) shows that people who have had a traumatic brain injury develop so-called "plaques" in their brain like those seen in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, the most common type of dementia. "Our research has shown, for the first time, that PET imaging can show amyloid deposits in the brain after head injury," said study author Dr. David Menon of the anesthesia division at the University of Cambridge, England. And these deposits can show up within hours of the blow to the head.
Returning To Work After A Brain Injury
WBEZ / November 26, 2013
Concussions in the National Football League (NFL) and military have received a lot of attention lately. But traumatic brain injury is a much larger issue, affecting at least 1.5 million Americans each year. As the impact of brain injuries becomes clearer, some experts say they are noticing a pattern. Many people with brain injuries are struggling in their efforts to return to work or get the accommodations from their employers to deal with the aftermath.
Spouse Deployed? Keep Holiday Stress at Bay
Defense Centers of Excellence / November 26, 2013
The holidays are fast approaching, and even when not dealing with the heightened emotions and stress of a deployment, holidays are rarely what we think of as “stress-free.” Add in the pressure to keep the holidays special while your loved one is absent, and you can very easily become overwhelmed. It’s vital to take active measures to avoid overworking yourself. For me, it comes down to three things: priorities, traditions and efficiency.
Giffords, Kelly Shine
azcentral.com / November 25, 2013
Mark Kelly, the retired astronaut, was the lead speaker of the evening, but his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, was its brightest star. Arizona’s high-profile couple took to the stage Friday in Scottsdale for a conversation that touched on life history, spaceflight and their personal experience with brain injury. “I couldn’t have been more proud of anybody in my life,” Kelly said of his wife, the former congresswoman, as he described her first trip back to work at the U.S. Capitol after suffering a gunshot wound to the head. Then, he turned as Giffords joined him onstage. She walked across, slowly, as the crowd rose to its feet.
Hawks Owner Paul Allen Funds Research into Brain Injuries
The Seattle Times / November 25, 2013
University of Washington neurosurgeon Rich Ellenbogen was on the sidelines at a Seahawks game last year when he got word that “the boss” wanted to see him. That would be the top boss, team owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. “I’d never met him before,” recalled Ellenbogen, who volunteers as a neurological specialist for the Seahawks and the NFL. But the UW scientist was thrilled to discover what was on Allen’s mind: concussion and brain injury, and what researchers could do to better understand the problem.
Reconciling a Sport's Violent Appeal as a Fighter Lies in a Coma
The New York Times / November 21, 2013
Three men sat inside a Manhattan diner. Their fighter, the Russian heavyweight Magomed Abdusalamov, remained in a medically induced coma at Roosevelt Hospital, across the street. “One week ago, the doctors say he has 100 percent chance to die,” his manager, Boris Grinberg, said 10 days after Abdusalamov entered the ring. Since then, his condition has improved, and there is talk of bringing him out of the coma, his representatives said. Abdusalamov fought Mike Perez at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 2. He expected a tough bout, perhaps even a bloody one, the kind of televised fight that could propel him to greater heights.
Mark Kelly Not Satisfied with Status Quo
AZCentral.com / November 21, 2013
Healing from a traumatic brain injury, changing gun-control laws and reviving lagging interest in a space program may seem complicated. But retired Navy Capt. Mark Kelly says he and his wife, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, view their challenges as simply recognizing the sentiment that things are as good as it gets for what it is — a lie. Giffords survived a bullet to the head three years ago this January after a gunman’s attack in Tucson that killed six people. Though she has had top-notch care and continues with a weekly regimen of physical and speech therapy, experts have said at times that Giffords’ improvement might have plateaued.
Quitting the NFL: For John Moffitt, the Money Wasn't Worth It
The New York Times / November 19, 2013
John Moffitt chugged mugs of black coffee and talked almost giddily about how, the week before, he called John Elway, the head of football operations for the Denver Broncos, to tell him he was quitting the National Football League, leaving behind the money and the fame, but also the constant pain and the danger. In parts of three seasons as a guard with the Seattle Seahawks and the Broncos, Moffitt, 27, blew out his knee, had elbow surgery and hurt his shoulders. Sleep apnea left him exhausted. Floaters cross his vision from all the hits to the head he absorbed in his nearly 20 years of playing football.
Wes Welker to Have Concussion Test
ESPN / November 19, 2013
Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker is undergoing concussion evaluation and will not be a full participant in practice until Friday at the earliest. Broncos interim coach Jack Del Rio said that Welker, who was injured in Sunday's win over the Kansas City Chiefs, will undergo baseline concussion testing at some point Monday. By NFL protocol, Welker will be limited in practice this week and is permitted to make a full return to practice Friday at the earliest, only if doctors say he has passed the baseline test.
Travis Wilson's Career in Jeopardy
ESPN / November 19, 2013
Utah Utes quarterback Travis Wilson's career is in jeopardy after concussion tests revealed a pre-existing condition that could keep him from playing football. Wilson, a sophomore, suffered a head injury against Arizona State on Nov. 9 and started having headaches the next day. Wilson will at least miss the rest of the season, the school said Monday night. "A preexisting condition was discovered after Travis Wilson underwent a CT scan to further evaluate the symptoms of a concussion," Utah team doctor David Petron said in a statement. "The findings on the CT scan led to an evaluation with an angiogram, which showed what appears to be a previous injury to an intracranial artery.
Federal Brain Science Project Aims to Restore Soldiers' Memory
National Public Radio / November 18, 2013
When President Obama announced his plan to explore the mysteries of the human brain seven months ago, it was long on ambition and short on details. Now some of the details are being sketched in. The will include efforts to restore lost memories in war veterans, create tools that let scientists study individual brain circuits and map the nervous system of the fruit fly. The Defense Advanced Projects Agency, or DARPA, which has committed more than $50 million to the effort, offered the clearest plan. The agency wants to focus on treatments for the sort of brain disorders affecting soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to , deputy director of . "That is our constituency," Ling said at a news conference at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego.
Brett Favre "Would Be Real Leery" of a Son Playing Football
The Huffington Post / November 18, 2013
Count Brett Favre among the parents who would think twice before allowing a son to play football. In the same week that ESPN's "Outside The Lines" reported that participation in Pop Warner, the nation's largest youth football program, had dropped by 9.5% from 2010-2012, the retired NFL star told Matt Lauer of "Today" that if he had a son he "would be real leery of him playing." "In some respects, I'm almost glad I don't have a son because of the pressures he would face," The 44-year-old retired quarterback told Lauer. "Also the physical toll that it could possibly take on him, not to mention if he never made it, he's gonna be a failure in everyone's eyes. But more the physical toll that it could take."
Menstrual Cycle Phase Affects Mild Brain Injury Outcomes
DoctorsLounge / November 18, 2013
For women with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), one-month quality-of-life and neurologic outcomes are influenced by menstrual cycle phase and progesterone concentration at the time of injury, according to a study published online Nov. 11 in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. Kathryn Wunderle, from the University of Rochester in New York, and colleagues conducted a nested cohort study in six emergency departments to examine the impact of menstrual cycle phase in women at the time of mTBI on one-month neurologic and quality-of-life outcomes. Participants included 144 females (aged 16 to 60 years) who presented to emergency departments within four hours of mTBI.
Former Players Want In on CTE Study
ESPN / November 15, 2013
The researchers who say they can determine whether a living person has chronic traumatic encephalopathy said they have been inundated with inquiries from former college and professional football players about possibly undergoing testing. "Outside the Lines" reported last week that researchers from UCLA and TauMark, a company formed 10 months ago that purchased a license to the brain scan used to test for signs of CTE, said four former NFL stars -- including ex-Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett -- had tested positive for signs of CTE. Since last week, the researchers and the attorney for the players said that well over 100 former players have inquired, as have many parents of youth athletes. TauMark said it is seeking expedited FDA approval for the test.
Christopher Powell Sues NCAA
ESPN / November 15, 2013
Former Kansas fullback Christopher Powell alleges in a lawsuit that the NCAA failed to adequately protect athletes from head trauma. The class-action lawsuit, filed this week in the U.S. District Court for Western Missouri, seeks an undetermined amount in damages for Powell and other athletes who suffered head trauma in college, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. Powell, of Kansas City, Mo., said in his filing he had at least four concussions while playing for Kansas from 1990 to 1994. He alleges that after one concussion sustained during a practice, he lost memory for about 24 hours. Powell said he continues to suffer neurological and cognitive deficits that require medical monitoring and out-of-pocket expenses. He alleges the NCAA was negligent in its "failure to take effective action to protect players and/or inform players of the true risks associated with concussions, brain injury and brain trauma."
Arizona High School Football Player Dies After Head Injury
CBS News / November 13, 2013
The Hopi High School football team had its best regular season ever, going 9-1 into a playoff game against a top-seeded team. In that game, senior wide receiver Charles Youvella caught a pass and scored the team's only touchdown in the third quarter. Well into the fourth quarter of Saturday's 60-6 loss to Arizona Lutheran Academy, Youvella fell hard on his head and collapsed a couple of plays later. He died Monday at the hospital of a traumatic brain injury, the Arizona Interscholastic Association said. CBS Phoenix affiliate KPHO-TV says the injury occurred when the 5'5" Youvella was tackled.