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Sports and brain injuries: 5 FAQs

If you play or follow sports, you have probably heard a lot in recent years about the dangers of head injuries. From the National Football League to soccer and other youth sports, leagues now have concussion protocols, designed to protect against someone trying to go back into action too soon after a hit to the head.

A new study suggests, however, that concussions are only part of the problem of chronic brain damage. A study published on January 17 found repetitive blows to the head are linked to the development of the severe head trauma called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

In other words, even if someone did not have a concussion, he or she could develop CTE. In this post, we'll use a Q & A format to provide some important context on this news.

How is a traumatic brain injury defined?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the head or body is thrust back and forth after sustaining a bump or a blow. Depending on the force of the impact, the prognosis following a traumatic brain injury varies.

What are the effects of mild to severe head injuries?

Traumatic brain injuries can be mild if it is the first brain injury that a person has sustained. First-time injuries can result in a momentary loss of consciousness or a change in mental status.

Concussions account for more than two-thirds of traumatic brain injuries that occur every year so the majority of these types of brain injuries are considered to be mild.

However, concussions can still have any number of short- or long-term effects on a person. Concussions can affect a person's memory and their ability to reason, balance, understand or express themselves. Multiple TBIs over a matter of months or years can result in neurological, cognitive deficits, disability or even death.

What are the dangers of undiagnosed concussions?

If your kid does get a concussion, they might not even know it. According to David Sigel, Chief Marketing Officer of Prevent Biometrics, more than fifty percent of concussions go undetected.

Some companies are in the process of learning how to detect concussions on the field in hopes of recognizing head injuries early on to and treat the athlete's injury appropriately. Undiagnosed concussions can result in more serious brain injuries later on, so diagnosing one right away can be vital.

What is CTE?

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative disease of the brain that kills cells and greatly affects someone's mood and behavior. It is associated with conditions that include depression, lack of impulse control and even paranoia.

Brain injuries can affect a person's day-to-day life and leave lingering effects for months or even years. By detecting a brain injury early on, you may be able to prevent more serious head injuries in the future.

How many former NFL players have CTE?

According to credible estimates, more than 2 in 5 former NFL players suffer from CTE. And the latest research shows that it isn't take a concussion to cause the condition.

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