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Article: White Matter Integrity in the Brains of Professional Soccer Players Without a Symptomatic Concussion

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    ABSTRACT: Editor’s note: While concussions have long been linked to brain and central nervous system issues, a new study suggests that repeated hits to the head—mild or otherwise—can lead to memory loss, depression, and dementia. This postmortem brain study, conducted at the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, provides new and troubling evidence about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a long-term degenerative and incurable brain disease. Although military personnel and others are vulnerable to the disease, the highest risk is among athletes involved in contact sports in which hits to the head are considered “part of the game.”
    Cerebrum: the Dana forum on brain science 02/2013; 2013:2.
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    ABSTRACT: Does frequent head-to-ball contact cause cognitive dysfunctions and brain injury to soccer players? An iPad-based experiment was designed to examine the impact of ball-heading among high school female soccer players. We examined both direct, stimulus-driven, or reflexive point responses (Pro-Point) as well as indirect, goal-driven, or voluntary point responses (Anti-Point), thought to require cognitive functions in the frontal lobe. The results show that soccer players were significantly slower than controls in the Anti-Point task but displayed no difference in Pro-Point latencies, indicating a disruption specific to voluntary responses. These findings suggest that even subconcussive blows in soccer can result in cognitive function changes that are consistent with mild traumatic brain injury of the frontal lobes. There is great clinical and practical potential of a tablet-based application for quick detection and monitoring of cognitive dysfunction.
    PLoS ONE 02/2013; 8(2):e57364. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0057364 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Acute and chronic sports-related traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a substantial public health concern. Various types of acute TBI can occur in sport, but detection and management of cerebral concussion is of greatest importance as mismanagement of this syndrome can lead to persistent or chronic postconcussion syndrome (CPCS) or diffuse cerebral swelling. Chronic TBI encompasses a spectrum of disorders that are associated with long-term consequences of brain injury, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), dementia pugilistica, post-traumatic parkinsonism, post-traumatic dementia and CPCS. CTE is the prototype of chronic TBI, but can only be definitively diagnosed at autopsy as no reliable biomarkers of this disorder are available. Whether CTE shares neuropathological features with CPCS is unknown. Evidence suggests that participation in contact-collision sports may increase the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer disease, but the data are conflicting. In this Review, the spectrum of acute and chronic sport-related TBI is discussed, highlighting how examination of athletes involved in high-impact sports has advanced our understanding of pathology of brain injury and enabled improvements in detection and diagnosis of sport-related TBI.
    Nature Reviews Neurology 03/2013; 9(4). DOI:10.1038/nrneurol.2013.33 · 14.10 Impact Factor
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