Traumatic Brain Injury Blog

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TBI In Sports

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

November 25, 2013

American Academy of Neurology: Brain Shows Evidence of Injury Following Concussion after Acute Symptoms have Dissipated

There has been much debate over what happens to the brain following a concussion, much of it recently focused on concussions in sports. One side of the debate maintains that concussions, also referred to as “mild traumatic brain injuries,” involve only a very short term disruption of brain function with no damage to the brain.  As discussed in previous posts, this view has been discounted by a growing body of research  involving advanced imaging technologies as well as post-mortem  pathological studies showing that in a minority of cases concussions can cause lasting damage to the brain as well as persistent symptoms.

On November 20, 2013 the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, a professional organization representing 21,000 neurologists and neuroscientists, published findings that after a “mild” concussion, brain scans using diffuse tensor imaging technology, showed grey matter abnormalities on both sides of the frontal cortex. Read More

July 29, 2013

“The Crash Reel.” Former snowboarding champion Kevin Pearce remains a winner as a TBI survivor

The Crash ReelOscar-nominee Lucy Walker’s captivating new HBO documentary film about Vermont snowboarder Kevin Pearce provides extraordinary insight into the impact of a traumatic brain injury on both the victim of the injury – in this case an Olympic gold medal contender –  and his family. The film, which recently premiered on HBO, will most certainly have a profound impact since it is both thrilling and entertaining – and therefore likely to be watched by many – and at the same time provides important, often misunderstood, information about the long-term physical and emotional impacts of the injury as well as the secret to finding a fulfilling life following a traumatic brain injury. Read More

June 13, 2013

Vermont Governor Signs Bill Addressing Concussions in School Sports

On June 4, 2013, Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill that imposes greater requirements on schools to protect student athletes from the potentially serious consequences of concussions in sports, especially from multiple concussions.

Under prior law, coaches were required to keep athletes who they had “reason to believe” had  sustained a concussion out of play until cleared to return by a qualified health professional. The new law imposes a similar requirement on a coach or health care provider who “knows or should know” that the athlete has sustained a concussion. Read More

May 11, 2013

BLOCK, TACKLE, CHECK: Concussions can leave permanent brain damage

Evidence of permanent brain damage resulting from concussion in sports is driving nationwide changes in policy. While over 4000 former National Football League players have filed lawsuits against the NFL for failing to take appropriate steps to protect them from permanent brain damage caused by multiple concussions, it’s not just a professional affair. An estimated 300,000 amateur sport-related traumatic brain injuries, predominantly concussions, occur annually in the United States.

Sports are second only to motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of traumatic brain injury among people aged 15 to 24 years. At least one player sustains a mild concussion in nearly every American football game! Read More