Study finds link between concussions and Alzheimer’s

Learn another reason why safety is necessary in sports.

In both professional and children's athletics, there has been a crackdown on concussions as of late. From new equipment to updated rules and regulations, the population as a whole is taking this injury much more seriously than it has in the past. And while there are a number of reasons why this should be done, new research indicates it may also help prevent some cases of Alzheimer's in the future.

More on concussions
Referred to as a traumatic brain injury by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concussions are caused by some type of severe contact with the head that may lead to brain malfunction.1 This can happen unpredictably, whether you're in a car accident or when a child falls while jumping on the bed. However, it is also common in sports as well. This has become a growing issue as modern medicine learns more about the dangers related to such injuries.

Symptoms can vary greatly, and some signs may not show until even days following the incident that caused the concussion. It's important for patients who have suffered this type of traumatic brain injury not to participate in physical activities until their symptoms have completely subsided for an extended period of time. Potential complications one may face include epilepsy, cognitive impairment or second impact syndrome, which can cause fatal brain swelling.2 So, it's no wonder that the health care industry has pushed to make concussion safety a top priority for athletes.

Effects on Alzheimer's
A group of U.S. researchers got together to find out whether or not head trauma resulted in a greater risk for developing Alzheimer's disease later in life. To do so, 448 patients who were cognitively normal and 141 who had mild cognitive impairment were selected for the study.3 Based on their investigation, the professionals found that participants who suffered self-reported head trauma in which loss of consciousness or memory occurred showed greater amounts of amyloid deposition – a cause of Alzheimer's. This information indicates that injuries such as concussions may increase one's risk for the disease.

"Our results add merit to the idea that concussion and Alzheimer's disease brain pathology may be related," study author Michelle Mielke explained in a statement, according to UPI. "However, the fact that we did not find a relationship in those without memory and thinking problems suggestions that any association between head trauma and amyloid is complex."4

This information solidifies the importance that concussions be taken seriously in all levels of sports. Steps toward prevention, such as designing new protective gear and treatment, may help to reduce the risk. We've already seen these measures at the professional level, and it's important for parents to make sure that their children are receiving the same type of care and consideration.

Caregivers who are treating individuals with Alzheimer's can turn to Medex Supply for all of the medical supplies they need to maintain patient health.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Concussion in sports" July 22, 2013
2 Mayo Clinic, "Concussion: Complications" February 22, 2011
3 Neurology, "Head trauma and in vivo measures of amyloid and neurodegeneration in a population-based study" December 26, 2013
4 UPI, "Concussion, Alzheimer's brain pathology may be related" December 27, 2013

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