Monthly Archives: August 2013

CTE may affect memory, mood and behavior

iStock_000023508896SmallIf you pay attention to headlines about sports injuries, you’ve probably heard a lot recently about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease associated with repeat brain trauma including concussions in athletes. On August 21, new research was released from the largest CTE study of its kind that shows the disease may impact people in two major ways: initially affecting behavior or mood or initially affecting memory and thinking abilities. CTE has been found in amateur and professional athletes, members of the military and others who experienced repeated head injuries, including concussions and subconcussive trauma.

“This is the largest study to date of the clinical presentation and course of CTE in autopsy-confirmed cases of the disease,” said study author Robert A. Stern, PhD, a professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine. “However, the overall number of cases in the study is still small and there may be more variations in CTE than described here.”

For the study, scientists examined the brains and reviewed medical records of 36 male athletes, ages 17 to 98, diagnosed with CTE after death, and who had no other brain disease, such as Alzheimer’s. The majority of the athletes had played amateur or professional football, with the rest participating in hockey, wrestling or boxing. Family members were also interviewed about the athletes’ life and medical history, specifically dementia, changes in thinking, memory, behavior, mood, motor skills or ability to carry out daily living tasks. Some of the findings included:

  • A total of 22 of the athletes had behavior and mood problems as their first symptoms of CTE, while 11 had memory and thinking problems as their first symptoms. Three of the athletes did not show any symptoms of CTE at the time of death.
  • Those with behavior and mood problems experienced symptoms at a younger age, with the first symptom appearing at an average age of 35, compared to an average age of 59 for those with memory and thinking problems. Almost all people in the mood/behavior group, or 91 percent, experienced symptoms of memory and thinking decline at some point, but fewer in the cognition group experienced mood and behavior symptoms throughout their disease, with 55 percent experiencing behavior symptoms and 64 percent experiencing mood symptoms at some point.
  • The group that experienced mood symptoms was more explosive, out of control, physically and verbally violent and depressed than the group that experienced memory and thinking deficits, with family members reporting that 73 percent of those in the first group were “explosive,” compared to 27 percent in the second group. A total of 64 percent of the first group were described as being “out of control,” compared to 27 percent of the second group, and 68 percent were physically violent, compared to 18 percent. A total of 74 percent were verbally violent, compared to 18 percent. And 86 percent had depression, compared to 18 percent of those with memory symptoms.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, the Sports Legacy Institute, the National Football League (NFL) and the Andlinger Foundation. The neuropathological examinations were conducted by Ann McKee, MD, professor of neurology and pathology at BUSM. McKee and Stern were co-founders of the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, along with neurosurgeon Robert Cantu, MD, and Christopher Nowinski, Executive Director of Sports Legacy Institute.

You can review the study in the August 21, 2013, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. To learn more about concussions, visit www.aan.com/concussion.

Source: This post is based on information provided by American Academy of Neurology.

 


Safe Kids Worldwide reports over one million children visit ER’s annually for sports-related injuries

press_release_thumbnail for safe kidsOn August 5, Safe Kids Worldwide released a new research report indicating that every 25 seconds, or 1.35 million times each year, a young athlete suffers a sports injury severe enough to go to the emergency room. The report,  called “Game Changers,” takes an in-depth look at data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to explore what type of injuries are sidelining young athletes.

According to the report that studied the 14 most popular sports, concussions account for 163,000 of those ER visits, or 12 percent. That’s a concussion-related ER visit every three minutes. Surprisingly, it is not just high school athletes suffering concussions; athletes ages 12 to 15 make up almost half (47%) of the sports-related concussions seen in the ER, a statistic made even more disturbing by the knowledge that younger children with concussions take a longer time to recover than older children.

“We uncovered some surprising and disturbing data about how often our kids are being injured playing sports,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “But we also found some inspiring stories from people and programs that are making a marked difference.

The study details both the types of injuries and the rates of injuries for the most popular sports. Not surprising, in 2011, the sport with the most injuries is football, which also has the highest concussion rate. Wrestling and cheerleading have the second and third highest concussion rate. The sport with the highest percent of concussion injuries is ice hockey.

The report also includes profiles of actions some communities, sports leagues, and individual athletes who are taking a proactive stance in order to turn these statistics around. You can Download the Report or helpful Sports Safety Tips from Safe Kids Worldwide here.

Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations dedicated to providing parents and caregivers with practical and proven resources to protect kids from unintentional injuries, the number one cause of death to children in the United States. Throughout the world, almost one million children die of an injury each year, and every one of these tragedies is preventable. Safe Kids works with an extensive network of more than 600 coalitions in the U.S. and in 23 countries to reduce traffic injuries, drownings, falls, burns, poisonings and more. Since 1988, Safe Kids has helped reduce the U.S. childhood death rate from unintentional injury by 55 percent. Visit www.safekids.org to learn more.


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