How Can We Improve the Way Sports Handle Brain Injuries?

First and foremost, we have an awareness of concussion. We think concussion itself is important. And so just recognizing that concussion or a significant brain injury doesn't have to be a big injury--that it doesn't have to rise to the level of loss of consciousness or transient memory loss, it can just be having your bell rung, feeling a little dizzy, not thinking quite straight, seeing stars, it can be a lot of very mild symptoms. That individual needs to be pulled out of the game and evaluated and not allowed to go back into the game until they've been completely cleared by a medical professional and certainly not that day. And I think that if we can manage this, what we call, mild brain trauma, allow the brain to rest, allow it to repair itself, I think we'll find that we see a lot less of this disease. I think it's when we have a brain that's been jarred, it's going through this period of instability, and then it gets jarred again. I think that repetitive jarring may trigger a pathologic cascade. So the management of concussion and mild injury is going to be very important.

A jarred brain needs sufficient time to rest and recover. It's simple, but makes all the difference in the long term.

See all videos interviews with Dr. Ann McKee.

Ann McKee

Ann McKee, MD is the chief neuropathologist for the Framingham Heart Study and the Boston University-based Centenarian Study. She is also the chief neuropathologist for the Boston-based Veterans Administration Medical Centers and for the Sports Legacy Institute.

Posted on BrainLine December 10, 2010

Produced by Noel Gunther and Brian King, BrainLine.

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