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New Studies Suggest that Hits to the Head, Not Concussions, are Responsible for Brain Damage

Thursday, April 12, 2018By Richard Alexander

Headlines about concussions and the link between concussion and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) have significantly raised awareness of safety measures in contact sports. CTE is a neurodegenerative condition that leads to brain cell destruction and other cognitive impairments. The prevailing wisdom is that suffering multiple concussions is the most significant risk factor for permanent brain damage in the future.

But a new study indicates that this information may obscure the real danger associated with the development of CTE. In fact, the study suggests that repeated blows to the head, not diagnosed concussions, lead to CTE later on in life. This new finding, published in the journal Brain, may shift the focus of prevention campaigns and recommended action to prevent CTE.

A concussion implies a loss of consciousness or other symptoms like a severe headache or vomiting. Blows to the head that qualify as concussions are generally the ones that experts worry about. But now researchers are focusing on hits to the head that do not necessarily generate concussive symptoms and appear to be related to the development of CTE. This information is concerning because it is typically those individuals who display concussive symptoms that receive medical attention, are advised to cease engaging in physical activity for a period of time, and rest their brains. Meanwhile, others who suffer repeated hits that are not recognized or treated may be silently harming their own brains.

The study included experts from Boston University, Harvard Medical School, Lawrence Livermore Lab in California, Ben-Gurion University and Oxford University. These researchers studied the brains of young adults who suffered mild head injuries but ultimately died of other causes. What they found was astounding- many of the brains contained early evidence of CTE. One of the indicators of CTE in these subjects was the irregular accumulation of tau protein, a hallmark symptom of a brain infected by CTE. To verify these results, researchers subjected mice to the type of head impacts one might suffer in a contact sport. The mice showed signs of CTE even after just a few hits. Moreover, in the mice that demonstrated CTE, there was no evidence of concussive symptoms.

Experts in the field of brain injury had suspected that concussions were not the baseline for measuring brain injury that led to CTE. In fact, approximately 20 percent of CTE cases showed no evidence of a concussion. However, experts still warn that the typical signs of concussion after a hit indicate that the brain has been damaged and should be brought to the attention of a medical professional.

If you or a member of your family was injured and suffered a traumatic brain injury, contact Alexander Law Group, LLC. Our exceptional personal injury lawyers will be sure you get the maximum compensation possible. Call 888.777.1776, or contact us online.

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