Rounds and Quarters

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Danger of Sports to Rugby Players and Boxers

Professional rugby players and boxers are just two of the groups who may be suffering long-term damage from their chosen careers. Why is this so? A new study shows that athletes who receive repeated blows to the head could be of greater risk of developing dementia later in life. Scientists said they have found the strongest evidence yet that repeated concussions could cause nerve-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

Researchers from the University of Rochester in New York studied autopsies of 12 athletes who died with brain or neurological disease. All had a newly characterized disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in which dementia set in years after repeated concussions. Three of the men were also diagnosed with ALS, a member of a family of diseases called motor neuron disease, which causes progressively worse paralysis. The researchers looked specifically for a protein called TDP-43. They found it in the brain and in the spinal cords of the men - which could explain the symptoms. Damaging one nerve can sometimes set off a cascade of other nerves dying, for reasons that remain poorly understood and TDP-43 could be involved. Experts in brain injury said the study, published in the Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology, pointed to new areas of research and possible ways to prevent long-term damage from concussions.

The findings also point to an urgent need to monitor soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom suffer brain injuries from explosions, accidents and blows to the head. ‘This is the first pathological evidence that repetitive head trauma experienced in collision sports might be associated with the development of a motor neuron disease,' said lead author Dr Ann McKee of Boston University School of Medicine. Drugs including the hormone progesterone, monoclonal antibodies and the antibiotic minocycline are being studied to see if they can stop the process of nerve destruction that follows injuries such as a blow to the head or stroke.

On the other hand I remember a certain case in my psychology class that disproved this. This is the case of Phineas Cage whose brain was really injured but survived and totally showed signs of being healthy physically. However there are some things that changed after he got that head injury. His personality turned form being friendly to being hostile. And because of his case psychologists and scientists and even people in lab coats and medical scrubs got the idea that brain and personality is related to each other. But his case was not repeated head blows but only one time head injury (but a really damaging head injury, eh), so still this study had proven some points.

Phineas Cage

Anyway as I see it, even without using this research, just by our common sense those players who bump their heads and have repeated blows on their heads are most likely to suffer illness with relation to their brain in the future. Thus men and women in sportswear uniforms must always be careful.  Right?

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Any comments as long as they are not off topic and spam are allowed... Have a great and sporty day ahead guys..:)