Tag Archives: head

Athletes May Have White Matter Brain Changes Six Months After a Concussion

New research finds white matter changes in the brains of athletes six months after a concussion. The study will be presented at the Sports Concussion Conference in Chicago, July 8-10, hosted by the American Academy of Neurology, the world’s leading authority on the diagnosis and management of sports-related concussion. The conference brings together leading experts in the field to present and discuss the latest scientific advances in diagnosing and treating sports-related concussion.

The study involved 17 high school and college football players who experienced a sports-related concussion. The participants underwent MRI brain scans and were assessed for concussion symptoms, balance problems, and cognitive impairment, or memory and thinking problems, at 24 hours, eight days and six months following the concussion. Researchers also assessed 18 carefully matched athletes who had not experienced a concussion.

At all time points, all participants had advanced brain scans called diffusion tensor imaging and diffusion kurtosis tensor imaging to look for acute and chronic changes to the brain’s white matter. The scans are based on the movement of water molecules in brain tissue and measure microstructural changes in white matter, which connects different brain regions. Those who had concussions had less water movement, or diffusion, in the acute stages following concussion (24 hours, six days) compared to those who did not have concussions. These microstructural changes still persisted six months after the injury. Also, those who had more severe symptoms at the time of the concussion were more likely to have alterations in the brain’s white matter six months later.

Despite those findings, there was no difference between the group of athletes with and without concussion with regard to self-reported concussion symptoms, cognition, or balance at six months post-injury.

“In other words, athletes may still experience long-term brain changes even after they feel they have recovered from the injury. These findings have important implications for managing concussions and determining recovery in athletes who have experienced a sports-related concussion,” said study author Melissa Lancaster, PhD, of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. “Additional research is needed to determine how these changes relate to long-term outcomes.”

The study was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and the NFL-GE Head Health Challenge I.


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NFL Supports ‘a Smarter, Safer Way to Play and Teach Youth Football’

The NFL and its 32 teams announced support this week for USA Football and the launch of Heads Up Football, which emphasizes “a smarter and safer way to play and teach youth football, including proper tackling and taking the head out of the game.”

The NFL will promote the Heads Up Football program, which is funded by the NFL,during nationally televised preseason games, through in-stadium banners and field stencils and digitally on team websites.

USA Football claims it has trained more than 80,000 volunteer youth coaches since 2007. Its curriculum covers “football’s fundamentals and player safety content, including concussion awareness and management protocols, player hydration and proper equipment fitting.”

“USA Football and the NFL continue our commitment to place great care and emphasis on player safety for the more than 3 million children who enjoy the fun and inherent team-first values of our game,” USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck said. “Through our Heads Up Football program, we are determined to make youth football even better and safer for our kids, and we encourage all youth sports to share this commitment with us.”

“The NFL and its teams are pleased to join USA Football in placing the health and well-being of our children first when it comes to safer play,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We share USA Football’s emphasis on player safety. We strongly endorse how Heads Up Football supports, instructs and strengthens the sport at its foundation, namely the coaches and parents who give of themselves for a better and safer game for their kids.”

Heads Up Football organizers said the aim is “to evolve the sport’s tackling instruction and terminology. Players who are taught tackling skills through Heads Up Football will ‘dip and rip,’ making contact in an ascending motion powered by legs and hips while ripping their arms upward around the ball carrier. Heads Up Football continues the sport’s evolution and encourages coaches to avoid tackling instruction such as ‘bite the ball’ or ‘head across,’ which places a player’s head in the line of contact.”

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NFL Takes Another Step Toward Implementing an Appropriate Concussion Policy

The NFL revealed earlier this week a plan to install a “certified athletic trainer” at each game, who will monitor play and provide medical personnel with “any relevant information that may assist them in determining the most appropriate evaluation and treatment.”

Their role will be “to provide information to team medical staffs that might have been missed due to a lack of a clear view of the play or because they were attending to other players or duties,” according to the league. However, the trainers will not diagnose or prescribe treatment.

Like the instant replay official, the trainer will be situated in a sky box, where he or she will have access to video replay as well as direct communication to each team’s medical staff. However, they will not have the authority to pull a player from a game.

The league added that “in most cases, the athletic trainer will be affiliated with a major college program in the area or will have previously been affiliated with an NFL club.”

The NFL is clearly hoping this step will help what is fast becoming an alarming issued for the league.

“Clubs also were reminded of the importance of team coaching and medical staffs continuing to work together to ensure that full information is available at all times to medical staffs,” according to the league.

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