Brain injury has been in the news a lot lately in Utah and elsewhere around the country. Recently, the results of a new study that looked at mild traumatic brain injuries resulting from sports injuries and accidents was released, and the death of former NFL football player, Junior Seau, has again brought up the issue of repetitive concussions and mental health.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries
According to a new study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, mild traumatic injuries resulting from sports or accidents can lead to abnormalities in the brain that can last for days. Researchers found that after a mild brain injury, areas of the brain that did not sustain direct physical injury operate differently. The researchers who conducted the study believe that the disruptions in areas of the brain not directly injured may be the result of a network dysfunction in the brain after mild injury occurs.
A different study lends credence to the above study's finding. The other study found that the brain activation of people who suffered mild injury to the brain differed from people who did not. The brains of those who suffered mild injury functioned differently during memory-related tasks, but there was no significant change in the performance of the task.
Repetitive Concussions and Mental Health
At the beginning of May 2012, Junior Seau, the famed former NFL defensive man for the Chargers, Dolphins and Patriots committed suicide. Seau's death reignited concern regarding the link between repeated hits to the head and the mental health of retired professional athletes. It is known that repeated blows to the head can make an individual at risk for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Put simply, CTE is brain degeneration caused by repetitive concussive and subconcussive brain trauma.
Although CTE is associated with serious head injuries like concussions, the disease can also be caused by repeated, less severe hits to the head. And unlike a traumatic brain injury, the effects of CTE do not appear immediately and usually appear later in a person's life. At the moment, it is not clear why CTE affects some individuals and not others but the nature, frequency and severity of the head trauma along with the age of the sufferer probably play a role.
So far, CTE can only be diagnosed by autopsy, but as more stories of those who suffered CTE are told by family members and are put together by medical professionals a symptomatic picture is being created. Family members of those who suffered from CTE say they demonstrated problems with memory, organization, the ability to learn, judgment and impulse control. Eventually judgment issues turned into aggressive behavior and problems with addiction and depression.
Every year around 1.7 million people suffer a traumatic brain injury. If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury and believe another person or an organization is responsible, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options.