Three or more concussions lead to long-term cognitive problems, a study suggests. Concussions in sports
A study of nearly 16,000 people suggests that experiencing multiple concussions may be associated with worse brain function later in life.
Among 15,764 people between the ages of 50 and 90, those who reported three or more concussions had worse results on complex planning and attention on a range of cognitive tests.
People who had suffered four or more concussions showed lower attention, processing speed, and working memory.
“What we found is … you really only need to have three concussions for life to have some kind of cognitive deficit in the long term,” said Dr Matthew Lennon, lead author of the study and a PhD candidate at the UNSW Centre. For healthy brain aging.
“If you had multiple concussions as a teenager, in your 20s, 30s, and 40s, you will still feel the effects when you’re 70 or 80.”
Results come in the day after the first hearings for Senate investigation into concussion and repeated head trauma in contact sports. The investigation was opened in the wake of growing public concern and ongoing reporting by Guardian Australia On sports organizations’ management of player concussions and the effects of long-term exposure to hard blows that may not lead to a clinical diagnosis of concussion but can still cause brain damage.
A large and growing body of scientific evidence has shown links between repeated head injury and sub-concussive blows in contact sports and chronic neurodegenerative disease (CTE), which has been It is found in the brains of many Australian athletesfrom amateurs to professionals.
Lennon’s research found that while people who had repeated concussions had measurably worse cognitive functioning, the differences weren’t as drastic. Lennon, also a medical doctor, said, “We’re not talking about 20 or 30 IQ points — we’re probably talking about a difference in IQ points.”
Lennon stressed that the benefits of sport for physical and cognitive health were significant. When we looked at the subgroup analysis [in data yet to be published] … If you’ve had a concussion while playing sports, you actually have better working memory and processing speed than those who’ve never had a concussion.
“What that tells us is that even if you’ve had a concussion, the benefits of playing sports, especially when you’re young, outweigh the risks to your long-term perception,” Lennon said. “This makes sense when we look at the aggregate data because we know that blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes… are all really big risks to our cognitive health.”
Lennon’s research did not investigate CTE or the cumulative effect of post-concussive blows.
However, the paper argued that given the “highly debated” issue of when people should stop participating in high-risk activities, such as contact sports, the finding that three or more concussions caused long-term cognitive deficits presented standard.
“This is a very important finding. It gives a clear threshold at which cognitive deficits in middle to late life can realistically be expected,” the paper said. [traumatic brain injury] Clinicians should be aware that some long-term cognitive deficits can be expected after 3 or more years.”
Research published in Journal of Neurotraumatologyforming part of a broader project known as Protection studywhich has been following participants in the UK for up to 25 years to understand the factors that influence brain health later in life.
One of the benefits of his study, Lennon said, was the non-athletic group, since most previous studies on the link between concussions and cognitive outcomes have focused on professional or collegiate athletes. “They didn’t really include the average person.”
On average, the participants reported their last head injury 30 years before the study. The study authors acknowledged that the long period since concussion experiences was a potential limitation.
“The retrospective design of the study, in which elderly participants often recalled details of events that occurred more than three decades in the past, may have caused head injuries to be underreported and thus to underestimate their effect,” they wrote.