Pennsylvania Senate Approves Medical Marijuana; Traumatic Brain injury and Post-Concussion Syndrome Among Qualifying Conditions

The State Senate in Pennsylvania has approved a bill with a 40-7 vote, which would legalize the use of medical marijuana.

Dana Ulrich, the mother of a daughter with epilepsy and one of the supporters of the bill, is cautiously optimistic about how the House will vote.

“Going into the House, of course, we’re nervous because we know we have a hill to climb,” she told Penn Live. “There’s a lot of education that needs to be done, but we are confident that if we can do our job as advocates in educating them, then they’re going to get the message. They’re going to vote on the side of science.”

The qualifying medical conditions for the drug include cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease, wasting syndrome, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, glaucoma, Crohn’s Disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and seizures, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, traumatic brain injury, and post-concussion syndrome.

The media cited a poll by Quinnipiac University , which showed that 88 percent of its respondents living in Pennsylvania are in agreement with the use of medical marijuana.

Posted in Football, General, Hockey, Other Sports, Outside U.S., Products | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Public Health Approach to Reducing TBI, an Update from CDC

Ongoing efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce the population impact of traumatic brain injury (TBI) are documented in the May/June issue of The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, official journal of the Brain Injury Association of America. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

“This special issue draws attention to the need for strategies to prevent TBI and to lessen the substantial physical, psychological, economic, and social effects among people who experience it,” write co-editors Jeneita M. Bell, MD, MPH and Christopher A. Taylor, PhD ofCDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. CDC is tasked with working to reduce the incidence of TBI by the federal Traumatic Brain Injury Act, passed by Congress in 1996 and renewed multiple times since.

New Research toward Reducing the Burden of TBI CDC’s strategic plan for TBI aims to achieve the greatest possible reductions in deaths and negative health effects of all TBIs, including concussions. The four pillars of CDC’s strategic plan for TBI are:

(1) improving the understanding of the public health burden of TBI, (2) reducing the incidence of TBI through primary prevention, (3) improving recognition and management of mild TBI (i.e., concussion), and (4) promoting healthy lifestyles and improving health outcomes for people living with TBI.

The special issue highlights new research focusing on this public health approach to TBI. Topics include:

  • A new data source (the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project [HCUP]) that improves TBI monitoring nationwide. The large size of the HCUP databases will aid in understanding TBI’s impact in population subgroups.
  • The problem of unemployment after TBI. New data show that 60 percent of patients who received inpatient rehabilitation for TBI are still unemployed two years after discharge.
  • Motorcycle crashes as a cause of TBI. People injured in motorcycle crashes use more healthcare resources and are three times more likely to die in the emergency department, compared to those with other causes of TBI.
  • The high impact of sports — and recreation-related TBIs. About seven percent of all emergency department visits for sports — and recreation-related injuries are TBIs, with at least 3.4 million sports — and recreation-related TBI emergency department visits occurring over a 12-year study period.
  • The effectiveness of CDC’s HEADS UP new online course. This course — part of CDC’sHEADS UP educational campaign — aims to improve recognition and management of concussion in sports. Results suggest that the course increases concussion-related knowledge among coaches and others involved a wide range of sports.
Posted in College, Football, General, High School, Hockey, Other Sports | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Concussion in Former NFL Players Related to Brain Changes Later in Life

In the first study of its kind, former National Football League (NFL) players who lost consciousness due to concussion during their playing days showed key differences in brain structure later in life. The hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory, was found to be smaller in 28 former NFL players as compared with a control group of men of similar age and education.

The findings were reported in yesterday’s edition of JAMA Neurology, and they represent the first study to compare the relationship between hippocampal volume, memory performance, and concussion severity. The study was conducted by a team of neurologists and neuropsychologists from UT Southwestern Medical Center and the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas.

This is a preliminary study, and there is much more to be learned in the area of concussion and cognitive aging,” said Dr. Munro Cullum, Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology and Neurotherapeutics at UT Southwestern, a co-author of the study. “While we found that aging individuals with a history of concussion and loss of consciousness showed smaller hippocampal volumes and lower memory test scores, the good news is that we did not detect a similar relationship among subjects with a history of concussion that did not involve loss of consciousness, which represents the vast majority of concussions,” said Dr. Cullum, who holds the Pam Blumenthal Distinguished Professorship in Clinical Psychology.

Some of the retired NFL players also met criteria for Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), a condition that typically affects memory and may lead to dementia. The findings were more pronounced among those who experienced more severe concussions.

The former players ranged from 36 to 79 years old, with a mean age of 58. Twenty-one healthy men of similar age, educational level, and intelligence with no history of concussion or professional football experience served as control subjects.

The results do not explain why the hippocampus was smaller in the athletes who suffered more serious concussions. Some shrinkage is a part of the normal aging process but the reduction is accentuated in MCI and was even more notable in those MCI subjects with a history of concussion accompanied by loss of consciousness. Thus, there appears to be a cumulative effect of concussion history and MCI on hippocampal size and function.

The primary investigator of the study was Dr. John Hart, Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, and Psychiatry at UT Southwestern, and Medical Science Director and a Professor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the Center for BrainHealth at UT Dallas. Dr. Kyle Womack, Associate Professor of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, and Psychiatry at UT Southwestern, was a contributing author.

The study was funded by The BrainHealth Institute for Athletes at UT Dallas and UT Southwestern’s Texas Institute for Brain Injury and Repair (TIBIR). Founded in 2014, TIBIR embodies a comprehensive and transformative approach to how brain injuries are prevented and treated.

TIBIR is a state-funded initiative to promote innovative research and education, with the goals of accelerating translation into better diagnosis and improving care for the millions of people who suffer brain injuries each year.

Posted in Football, General, Professional | Tagged , , | Leave a comment