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Study unveils details about brain condition plaguing athletes

Last week in this Michigan personal injury law blog, we discussed the disappointment that ensued after a promising brain injury treatment turned out to be a dud. While researchers are continuing to seek effective brain injury treatments, other researchers are focused on learning more about what causes brain injuries in the first place.

A study released just today reveals quite a bit of information about how years of playing football or other contact sports can lead to certain types of brain damage or head trauma. The study's findings suggest that years of suffering blows to the head on the playing field can lead athletes to have trouble focusing, eventually progressing into aggression and dementia.

The study, which has been published in the journal "Brain," involved examinations of 85 former athletes and soldiers who sustained multiple brain injuries throughout the course of their lives.

The researchers found that the subjects suffered chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a four-stage pattern.

As we've previously discussed, worries about this brain condition, which has been linked to several suicides of former professional athletes, has led youth and college football programs to develop policies surrounding concussions.

Researchers have now identified four distinct phases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy: stage one includes headache and attention issues; stage two may include depression, anger and memory loss; stage three is characterized by cognitive impairment and executive dysfunction; stage four can include dementia, difficulty finding words and aggression.

The medical community, however, remains unable to diagnose this condition early. What they have learned is that it seems to be caused by a consistent occurrence of mild blows to the head rather than just a few more traumatic hits.

Source: Reuters, "Study finds pattern in brain injuries linked to contact sports," Scott Malone, Dec. 3, 2012

  • Our Michigan law firm provides legal representation for brain injury victims. To learn more, visit our Detroit Brain Injury page.

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