The “Impact” of Sports Concussions

In recent years, the condition of concussions has fallen into center stage because of the ongoing research and lawsuits surrounding the effects concussions have had on professional NFL players. According to the National Institutes of Health, sports are the second leading cause of brain injury to people between the ages of 15 and 24 of age, beaten only by motor vehicle crashes. Among all sports, football carries a high risk, despite all the padding and helmets: the Sports Concussion Institute states that all players have a 75% chance of earning a concussion during their play.

Neuroimaging and Concussions

Generally, after a concussion, cat scans or CT scans are taken of the head as well as MRIs taken of the brain. CT scans can also view possible neck injuries as well. It is shown by these scans that patients often have internal contusions, basically bruises on the brain. These show up as grey and black areas on a typical CT scan. “Microhemorrhages” can also occur in the brain, showing up as little black dots. This structural damage can affect the memory and attention centers of the brain for both short and long-term. The American Association for the Advancement of Science presented research in 2013 that illustrated the effects of concussions can last much longer than the disappearance of symptoms.

Short-term, concussions can cause cognitive, physical, and emotional symptoms such as confusion, vomiting, headache, nausea, depression, disturbed sleep, moodiness, and amnesia. Long-term, test results on patients have indicated abnormal brain activity as well as a partial wasting away of valuable motor pathways. A recent test showed that older football athletes who had concussions thirty years prior had shown more of a tendency towards symptoms similar to early Parkinson’s disease.

In 2013, UCLA researchers used PET brain scans on five retired NFL players over the age of 45, employing a chemical marker called FDDNP to identify specific “tangled” proteins within the brain usually identified in those with Alzheimer’s disease. When compared to normal PET scans of healthy men of the same age, the scans did indeed show the specific tau proteins present.

Pacific Healthcare Imaging is proud to supply clinics and hospitals with the imaging equipment they need to continue to study and treat the effects of concussions on football players of every age. Contact us for pricing on all our C-arms and x-ray machines today.