Traumatic Brain Injury Blog

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TBI In Sports

September 29, 2016

Continuing to Play Following Concussion Can Prolong Recovery And Expose Athletes to Catastrophic Second Impact Syndrome

There’s new evidence supporting immediate removal of athletes from play following concussion.

A new study published in the September, 2016 issue of Pediatrics provides evidence that returning to play immediately following a sports related concussion, even without a “second impact” nearly doubles, on average, the length of time required to recover and exposes athletes to a greater risk of protracted symptoms. As the authors point out in their report, the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council stated in 2013 that

“the culture of sports negatively influences SRC [sports related concussion] reporting and that athletes, coaches, and parents do not fully acknowledge the risks of playing while injured.”

Read More

September 3, 2015

Controversy Surrounds Release of Trailer For “Concussion,” starring Will Smith, to Be Released in December, 2015

Sony Pictures has made a movie about the devastating long term effects of concussion in professional football players, and the NFL’s efforts to cover this up. Will Smith stars as Nigerian doctor Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who first discovered the prevalence in players of a degenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). A trailer for the movie has just been released and can be seen here.

This movie promises to bring even greater public attention to the growing body of evidence, discussed in many past posts in this blog,  demonstrating that concussion can in some cases trigger a chronic degenerative process with permanent consequences.  Read More

February 3, 2015

Safety Helmets and Seatbelts – Key to Protecting Children and Adolescents from Serious Brain Injury

The New England Journal of Medicine has published the most exhaustive analysis to date of brain injury in children and adolescents.  The results reinforce the critical importance of safety helmets for children under 12 and the importance of safety helmets and seatbelts for adolescents.

The data analyzed in the study was from over 40,000 pediatric brain injuries. The most common cause of trauma in children under 12 was falls, often from bicycles.  Motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries and assaults were the most frequent mechanisms of injury among adolescents. Read More

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December 8, 2014

New Research Identifies Reliable Biomarker of Permanent Brain Damage following Concussion

Findings released on November 25, 2014 in the Journal of Neurotrauma indicate that the presence of a blood protein known as SNTF shortly after a sports-related concussion can predict the severity of post-concussion symptoms in professional athletes.

The authors of the study – Robert Simon, PhD, and Douglas H. Smith, MD, professor of neurosurgery and director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania – noted upon release of this study of SNTF in concussion patients that

“these observations lend further support to the growing awareness that concussion is not trivial, since it can induce permanent brain damage in some individuals.” Read More

August 28, 2014

NCAA Settles Concussion Class Action Lawsuit

Good News for Future Players, Bad News for Past and Current Players Left to Seek Compensation on an Individual Basis

On July 29, 2014, the NCAA and representatives of college athletes announced an agreement to settle a concussion class action lawsuit that came on the heels of a similar lawsuit against the NFL.  The settlement will need to be approved by the Court, a process that could take several months. It is anticipated that several former athletes experiencing the long-term effects of concussions suffered in college sports will object to the settlement, since it does not provide any direct compensation – unlike the proposed settlement in the NFL case. Players with concussion claims are left to pursue those claims on an individual basis. Read More

July 15, 2014

More Encouraging News Concerning the Recognition and Treatment of Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Several recent developments demonstrate increasing recognition of the serious potential consequences of concussion, and commitment to minimize those consequences through appropriate treatment of concussion:

  1. Physicians have an ethical obligation to become knowledgeable about concussion.

    On June 9, 2014 the American Academy of Neurology, the largest professional association of neurologists, released a position paper stating that doctors have an ethical obligation to educate and protect athletes from sports concussion and clear them to play only when the athlete is medically ready, standing firm against objections from players, athletes and coaches. The statement declares that sports concussion “is a major issue in the world of health care” and requires more attention from physicians. Read More

April 21, 2014

New Data Supports Importance of Cognitive Rest for Concussion Recovery

Most current guidelines recommend “cognitive rest” during the initial stages of recovery from concussion. “Cognitive rest” involves limiting activities that require attention and concentration such as reading, doing homework, text messaging, playing video games, working online, watching movies and television and listening to music.  Cognitive rest has been recommended in the past based on somewhat limited evidence suggesting that failing to minimize these activities in the early stages following a concussion could delay recovery. Read More

January 7, 2014

NFL and NCAA Under Increased Pressure to Manage the Long-Term Effects of Concussions

In August, 2013, the NFL announced that it had reached a $765 million dollar settlement of claims by more than 4,500 players alleging that they were suffering from long-term consequences of concussions that the NFL had known about for years, hid from players, and failed to minimize by establishing appropriate protocols for return to play.  The alleged cover-up by the NFL, with co-conspirators in the medical community, was recently the subject of an extensively researched PBS Frontline special titled “League of Denial.” 

By settling the players’ claims early in the litigation it appeared that the league would avoid further examination of what the league knew and when it knew about the long-term effects of concussion. However, several recent developments indicate that these issues will likely be examined further. The judge overseeing the litigation has appointed a “special master” to make recommendations concerning the settlement and the Brain Injury Association of America has  petitioned to intervene in the litigation to make sure that the settlement takes proper account of the

“progressive physical, psychiatric and cognitive disease processes that are caused and/or accelerated by brain injury, but may not  manifest in clinically significant symptoms on initial presentation.”

Read More

December 11, 2013

Functional Brain Imaging Helps Explain Post-Concussion Symptoms and Role of Exercise in Healing

Using functional brain imaging (fMRI) a multidisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Buffalo have documented metabolic and physiologic changes in the brains of patients experiencing post-concussion symptoms. They found improvements in both imaging findings and in patient symptoms following a  controlled, progressive aerobic exercise program. The results have been published in both the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation   and in Current Sports Medicine Reports and are summarized in UB news releases. Read More