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Head Injuries May Trigger Dementia, Madness
They call it "the pop." It's that moment when thousands of fans are jolted screaming to their feet, an involuntary response to some act of unbelievable strength, astounding agility or brute violence. On the football field, the hockey rink, the basketball court - the pop is the product. Nowhere is it more essential or more lucrative than in pro wrestling. And in the history of the ring, only few could make a crowd pop like Chris Benoit.
"Something good needs to come of this. You've got kids out there playing hockey and football, they get hit in the head and coaches who have no idea what a concussion means are saying 'you're just dinged, get back in there.' I think about all these soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, all the bombs going off, these guys are suffering concussions. They need to know how serious that can be. I want to make it safer for all the boys that are left. Why should they suffer the same fate as my son?"
Brain Inflammation Speeds Dementia
A new UK study suggests inflammation in the brain resulting from infection or injury may accelerate the progress of dementia.
The researchers found that systemic inflammation leads to the production of a protein known as IL-1β by microglia, the brain’s resident immune cells, in the hippocampus region of the brain. This region is involved in memory and learning.
The protein is known to exacerbate nerve cell damage in stroke. Inflammatory mediators such as IL-1β are routinely produced in the blood in response to inflammatory stimuli and prior studies by colleagues in Southampton have shown a correlation between elevated blood IL-1β levels, recent infection and subsequent cognitive decline.
Inflammation, depression and dementia: are they connected?
If chronic inflammatory changes are a common feature of depression, this could predispose depressed patients to neurodegenerative changes in later life. Indeed there is now clinical evidence that depression is a common antecedent of Alzheimer's disease and may be an early manifestation of dementia before the cognitive declines becomes apparent. This review summarises the evidence that links chronic low grade inflammation with changes in brain structure that could precipitate neurodegenerative changes associated with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.
Midlife rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of cognitive impairment two decades later: a population-based study.
Inflammation has been associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and dementia.
The presence of joint disorders, especially RA, at midlife seems to be associated with a worse cognitive status later in life. Given the chronic inflammatory component of RA, this study suggests that inflammatory mechanisms may have an important role in increasing the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia/AD.
Inflammatory Response To Infection And Injury May Worsen Dementia
Systemic inflammation – inflammation in the body as a whole – is already known to have direct effects on brain function.
"Doctors and carers need to pay increased attention to protect people with dementia from potential causes of systemic inflammation," says Dr Cunningham. "These include preventing infection, protecting them against falls and carefully weighing up the risk-benefit ratio of non-essential surgery."
Ralph Wenzel, Whose Dementia Helped Start a Debate, Dies at 69
A guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Diego Chargers from 1966 to 1973, and later a successful teacher and coach, Mr. Wenzel began having significant memory lapses and other cognitive problems in 1995 at age 52. Those symptoms worsened to the point that he could no longer work, communicate or feed himself; he began living in a home for dementia patients in 2006.
In a profile in March 2007 in The New York Times, Dr. Perfetto said that in more lucid times, Mr. Wenzel had assessed his total number of on-field concussions as “more than I can count.” During one game, he was knocked unconscious for 5 or 10 seconds, stumbled to the wrong huddle, took a few plays off and then returned to the field.
“The denial is disrespectful of the players and the families that are suffering,” she said, “and it endangers current players and children.”
Without citing Mr. Wenzel specifically, the league soon acknowledged that the dementia exhibited by retirees like him could be football-related. The league began not only revising its policies and safety rules pertaining to head injuries, but also advocating similar changes that have improved safety at the youth level.
Report: Autopsy Reveals Sixth NFL Player Suffered From Head Trauma-Related Brain Damage
Over the past two years, researchers have examined the brains of seven former NFL players, including McHale, all of whom died by the age of 50. Six turned out to have had CTE, which is characterized by the buildup of toxic proteins that form dangerous tangles in the brain, and that at the moment, can be found only by autopsy. CTE can cause victims to lose control of their emotions and impulses and to suffer memory loss and depression and can eventually lead to dementia.
NFL Concussions Lawsuit: Ex-Players Claim Facts On Head Injuries, Dementia Were Hidden
PHILADELPHIA -- NFL officials conspired to hide evidence linking concussions to dementia and brain disease, seven retired players charge in the latest lawsuit filed on the subject.
The fraud and negligence lawsuit filed in Philadelphia accuses the National Football League of publishing nonscientific papers written by biased members of its medical committee, while denouncing valid research that suggested a link.
The suit seeks more than $5 million on behalf of the seven named players, four spouses and other ex-players who may join the potential class action.
Football is linked to dementia, and why it should be banned from high schools
Featured are Dr. Ann McKee, neuropathologist at the Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts and Dr. Bennet Omalu, forensic neuropathologist and San Joaquin Valley (CA) chief medical examiner. Drs. McKee and Omalu have done some interesting autopsy work which suggests that chronic traumatic brain injury leading to dementia suffered by football players is much more common, even among high school players, than previously realized.
You might counter that this is simply the result of a few bad-luck hits on the field, but research involving the University of North Carolina football team suggests otherwise. Players at UNC wear impact sensors in their helmets throughout the season. Results from these investigations suggests that even routine hits during practice can add up to cause concussions and, theoretically, set the stage for chronic traumatic encephalopathy. (On the first day of training camp one UNC lineman was recorded as having been hit in the head thirty-one times!)
Back in 1905, Gladwell reports, the question of whether football should be played in our nation’s schools was raised to the level of the White House, when President Theodore Roosevelt called an emergency summit to discuss the issue. At the time, a professor at the University of Chicago called football a “boy-killing, man-mutilating, money-making, education-prostituting, gladiatorial sport.” And in December of 1905, presidents of twelve prominent colleges met in New York and came within one vote of abolishing the sport at their institutions.
What does this mean for football in America? Nothing. Fans are willing to spend a lot of money to see men slam into each other’s heads on the field.
Rugby players could be at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s than the general public after a study into the similar sport of American football found ‘vastly higher’ rates of the illness.
U.S. researchers found that former gridiron stars aged between 30 and 49 were 19 times more likely to suffer from the condition than average.
The study, commissioned by the governing National Football League, also found that 6.1 per cent of retired players aged over 50 had received a dementia-related diagnosis.
‘I think this complements what others have found — there appears to be a problem with cognition in a group of NFL football players at a relatively young age,’ he said.
Acute and Chronic Brain Injury in United States National Team Soccer Players
However, reported head injury symptoms, especially in soccer players, correlated with histories of prior acute head injuries (r = 0.63). These findings suggest that any evidence of encephalopathy in soccer players relates more to acute head injuries received playing soccer than from repetitive heading.
Early Detection Technology for Brain Injury
A recent article in the New York Times highlights how researchers are working on a new, relatively inexpensive way to spot injuries and monitor brain diseases using magnetic sensors that can spot changes in brain waves. This compact and portable detection device, part of the field of optical magnetometry, is constructed as a form of headgear roughly the size of a sugar cube, and works by having sensors measure changes in the brain’s magnetic field. The device’s size, portability, and affordability allow for a wider range of applications that may someday be mass produced and used on athletes to monitor collisions and subsequent brain injuries in sports.
Are concussions more dangerous for girls?
A new study reports that girls are 68% more likely to suffer a concussion during sports-related activity than boys. A study released by the Journal of Athletic Training showed that girls, during high school and college who played basketball or soccer, suffered significantly more concussions than their male counterparts. The report also stated that boys returned to play sooner than girls did after having suffered a concussion.
As College Basketball Grows, Concussions Are a Side Effect
Concussions are often associated with more violent sports like football, hockey, even soccer. But as basketball has become more brutish, the number of head injuries has increased.
A study of all divisions of N.C.A.A. sports by the National Athletic Trainers Association showed that head and facial injuries in basketball increased by an annual average of 6.2 percent from 1988 to 2004. Concussions represented 3.6 percent of all injuries reported. Female basketball players were three times more likely to get a concussion than men.
“Anecdotally, I would say we’ve seen an increase in that time in the number of concussions in basketball, especially in women’s basketball,” said Kevin Guskiewicz, an athletic trainer who is chairman of the sports science department at the University of North Carolina.
“That’s the way it was back when we were kids: you had a headache and you went on,” Temple Coach Fran Dunphy said. “Today, and I think it’s right, we need to be aware of it. It’s an acute situation.”
The N.C.A.A. added points of emphasis to the rule book for this season to curb excessive elbow swinging and to allow officials to stop the clock when someone was hurt. And the N.C.A.A. will hold a concussion meeting this spring.
Basketball and Concussions: How to Protect Your Teen
Popyer's experience is a cautionary tale, one that is echoed in research released Monday by Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio: the number of young people suffering from head injuries while playing basketball is on the rise.
Collisions are most likely to be responsible for a head trauma, either ball to head, player to player, or as in Popyer's first concussion, head to floor, says study co-author Lara McKenzie PhD, principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
Most recently, a study released last week found that ER visits for concussions occurring in youth team sports have risen sharply since the late 1990s. Sport-related concussions accounted for half of all concussions seen in teens, researchers found, and team sports, such as basketball, accounted for more than a third of those sports concussions.
Louisville Basketball Players Equip Helmets for Concussion Protection
In an attempt to prevent multiple concussions, a number of men's basketball players from the University of Louisville have been wearing mixed-martial-arts helmets in practice this year, according to the Associated Press.
The helmets being used by Louisville players, made of vinyl-covered foam, aren't nearly as motion-limiting as football helmets. Three players who have all suffered multiple concussions—guards Peyton Siva, Tim Henderson, and Elisha Justice—all wear the helmets in practice during any contact drills, although they're not mandatory for the full team.
Given that there were an estimated 13,987 annual trips to the emergency room for traumatic brain injuries (including concussions) in youth athletes 18 and under over the past decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's easy to see why Hina's adopted a better-safe-than-sorry approach with the Cardinals. Just because basketball doesn't condone direct hits like football or hockey doesn't mean that basketball players are immune from the risks of concussions.
Explaining the NBA’s new concussion policy (why Kobe likely sits)
Before the season started, Kobe (and every NBA player) took a computer test that had them answer questions about numbers sequences, patterns and the like. From that test, a baseline is established of a player’s reaction times.
After a concussion, a player has to take that test again and perform about as well as he did before the season, a determination made by the league’s neurologist at the University of Michigan.
The player must be symptom free (as determined by the test) for 24 hours before a game and have shown no ill effects from a series of increasingly challenging physical tests he is put under, from a stationary bike to agility drills. Basically, when he runs hard do the symptoms return?
NBA Commissioner David Stern was asked about the new policy before the All-Star Game and was supportive.
“And we recognize that there might be some pressure sometime in individual circumstances to accept a player’s determination to go back into a game, saying he was ready to do it, and put himself at risk, and we’re not going to do it,” Stern said.
College basketball concussion rate higher than any sport
The game has adapted to the size and strength of its players, becoming more about power than finesse.
A typical game in power conferences such as the Big 12, Big Ten and Big East can look like a wrestling match under the basket, players hitting the floor on nearly every possession, often landing in piles. These collisions offer a multitude of ways to get hit in the head: stray elbows, by the floor or an opponents’ knee, even on someone else’s head, like Zeller.
Concussions can be life-altering for student athletes.
The lives of Sarah Parsons and Zach Brady once revolved around rebounds, tackles and college applications … until multiple concussions derailed their athletic dreams and nearly kept them out of college.
Instead, her presentation captured a piece of, if not all of, the enormous challenges her brain injury caused.
Sarah missed four months of school following her concussion. In hindsight, she probably should have missed more, her mother said, so her brain could have a chance to heal.
Sarah fell behind in class and socially, struggled with depression and had to learn to speak again. Today, her difficulties continue. There still are days when her mother can't allow Sarah to drive a car, she said.
Zach used to crank out an A-grade essay in an hour, he said. This spring, it took him 10 hours to complete a three-page paper that didn't even pass his own standards. Reading the jumbled reasoning his own brain churned out "was devastating," Zach said.
"I wish I just had a bunch of broken bones, and it could heal," he said.
Luckily, Zach had racked up a lot of extra credits in previous years, because he barely got any as a senior. Zach took summer classes and in August, graduated with the minimum number of credits allowed by the state.
Dr. Steven Miles lives in Minneapolis
The name for dementia caused by repetitive concussions is "chronic traumatic encephalopathy." Doctors identified it in 1928. In 2009, a 42-year-old former Illinois wide receiver, Mike Borich, died of that dementia. The NCAA ignored student concussions until the media put such cases on the front page. The NFL bravely warned the NCAA to address this problem in January 2012.
The contradiction between a college's athletics pounding a brain while its classrooms are educating it for a career seems too obvious to mention.
Boards of regents should insist that sports physicians be employed by student health services -- not by athletic departments. Sports-medicine physicians are skilled, caring professionals, but they should not have the clinical conflict of interest that comes from being employed by athletic departments. Recent scandals show how the prestige and revenues of athletic programs can compromise the operations of athletic-department professionals.
Regents should insist that athletics departments be publicly accountable for injuries. They should require departments to publish statistical data of sports-related hospitalizations, fractures and surgeries, as well as all data from helmet impact monitors for practice sessions and games. Annual or biennial reports could be released without compromising individual students' privacy.
Regents should ensure that student athletes have health and disability insurance that is sufficient to cover the treatment and consequences of sports-related injuries. The cost of such insurance will motivate athletic departments to protect students' health.
Scientist links dementia, sports injuries in kids
Dr. Tom Terrell, with UT Medical Center, says new technology is helping medical professionals diagnose concussions. "It's a more sophisticated form of MRI that's picked up micro hemorrhages," he explained.
Much of the recent discussion centers on research being done at Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. Researchers there have examined the brains of former athletes and discovered evidence of a degenerative brain disease in many of the cases they have studied.
School Liability for Athletes' Concussions
La Salle University paid a $7 million settlement to the family of football player Preston Plevretes, who died after receiving a second concussion during play before his first concussion fully healed.
The lawsuit claimed the university didn't take steps to protect him, and coaches and staff didn't follow proper concussion guidelines and allowed him to return to play too quickly.
This lawsuit caused many changes in the way school athletics are viewed. Many institutions and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have updated their guidelines regarding concussions.
It got worse in high school and even worse in college. By the time I was a senior in college, I was an addict. I played my whole senior season with a broken finger on my throwing hand. It was really badly broken. Just taking the snap, throwing the ball, handing it off, getting tackled -- everything that goes along with playing quarterback -- it was very painful.
Throughout that process, I became hooked on pain killers. I got them from the team doctor. I went through the prescriptions pretty fast. After he had been giving them to me for quite a while, he said he couldn't give them to me anymore.
I was hooked on them and I was playing football, and there was no way I was going to cancel my senior year by going to rehab. I started getting them from people, buying them, getting them off the street. I wasn't the only player on the team that was doing it, so we knew people. It wasn't, like, super sketchy or anything. We knew people who had them, and we were Tennessee football players, so they pretty much just gave them to us.
I had a really bad stress fracture in my foot, but I think the reason it got so bad was because I was using so many drugs. I had no idea what was going on with my foot; I was completely out of it.
I was under the influence pretty much every day, every practice. I mean, I was a drug addict, so it's not like I stopped using drugs for any reason. Did the Jets know? I don't know. That's all they knew me as. I was a drug addict from the first day I stepped foot on the Hofstra campus [site of the team's training base until 2009].
The training area includes a rehabilitation clinic, which features a balance unit so UT's medical staff can conduct individualized baseline concussion tests for each athlete. There's two examination rooms, including a diagnostic ultrasound unit for MRIs and an X-ray room, that will allow the Vols to keep everything in-house. The building even has an in-house state-licensed pharmacy.
Holdsclaw produced a handgun, fired inside the SUV and fled the scene, the report said. Police said they later recovered a 9mm shell casing at the scene. Lacy was not injured, police said.
Connection between concussions and later violent behavior
As reported in ScienceDaily, the results of an eight-year study from the University of Michigan School of Public Health reveals that
Young people who have sustained a head injury during their lifetime are more likely to engage in violent behavior ... Further, the research found that young people who suffered a recent head injury (within a year of being questioned for the study) were even more likely to report violent behavior.
The report appears in the current issue of Pediatrics and seems to support earlier studies that have connected violence to head injuries.
While the research did not restrict itself to sports injuries, "it does support some of the sports research that's been going on with concussions," according to Sarah Stoddard, a research assistant professor at the School of Public Health.
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A UT football player was arrested for underage consumption and public intoxication on Sunday morning, according to the Knoxville Police Department. Brendan Downs, a sophomore tight end on the UT football team, was at Whiskey Dix around 1 a.m. on the Strip. The manager of the club escorted Downs outside for drinking in the club underage.
Downs created a disturbance by being loud and using profane language once he got outside. Police said an officer who was working an extra job in the parking lot of the bar then arrested Downs.