The cumulative evidence that repeated concussions to college hockey players results in brain damage evidenced on MRIs. In this study, the concussions were often unnoticed during the course of the season. MRIs were given before and after the season to college hockey players. If the hockey player had a known concussion, another MRI was done within 72 hours.
The objective evidence of physical changes to the brain was stunning:
Hockey players who sustained concussions during a recent season experienced acute microstructural changes in their brains, according to a series of studies published in the Journal of Neurosurgery on Tuesday.
Sports has many benefits, and I’m a big sports fan. But there need to be improvements in helmets and the way sports are played.
Similarly, a person in a car accident who hits their head is at high risk for a concussion. They are at a much higher risk for concussion if they’ve had any previous concussions, even a long time ago. As my husband was taught in nursing school: the number one predict of a head injury is a previous head injury.
An example of this is my friend R., who had a two previous concussions: at age 14 playing softball, and another playing flag football at age 18. The first resulted in nausea and a headache; the second in an inability to pay attention and some general fuzziness. When she had a concussion in a bike crash three years ago, her head injury was significantly worse because of the previous concussions. She had a period of time when she had word-finding problems and she couldn’t carry on a conversation. When she returned to college in the fall, she wasn’t able to perform with the same ease. Even now, a few years later, she experiences word-finding symptoms when she is fatigued.
Hopefully studies such as this one will fuel improvements of helmets for all sports, as well as improvements in vehicle safety.
The complete article can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/04/sports/hockey/study-finds-changes-in-brains-of-hockey-players-who-had-concussions.html?src=recpb