If your child plays football or another contact sport in Vista, it is important to learn more about a recent study suggesting that other hits to the head—and not just concussions—can cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). According to a recent report in the Washington Post, a new study has examined the brains of teenage athletes and has determined that signs of CTE appear even when those teen athletes did not sustain concussions but simply received hits to the head.
Since information about CTE and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) entered into our lexicon, we have been taught that concussions are the cause of this degenerative disease. Now, however, it looks as if blows to the head that are not severe enough to cause a concussion may also result in this debilitating and ultimately deadly disease.
Concussions May be Irrelevant in Triggering CTE
According to Dr. Lee Goldstein, one of the authors of the recent study and an associate professor at Boston University School of Medicine and College of Engineering, “the concussion is really irrelevant for triggering CTE.” Rather, he explained, “it’s really the hit that counts.” This study undercuts years of news headlines about CTE and its causes, which have linked concussions to the degenerative disease. Now, this new study suggests, any type of hit to the head may end up having significant long-term health implications.
The study was conducted by research at Boston University, and the findings were published in the peer-reviewed neurology journal Brain. It involved analysis of the brains of teenagers who had sustained head injuries in conjunction with head trauma in mice. The researchers concluded that “the same brain pathology that we observed in teenagers after head injury was also present in head-injured mice.” In both cases, the brain pathology had no ties to concussions. As such, Goldstein clarified, the “findings provide strong causal evidence linking head impact to TBI and early CTE, independent of concussion.”
Many Athletes with Signs of CTE do Not Have a History of Concussions
Previously, doctors believed that CTE was linked to a history of multiple concussions. Yet that causal assumption could not explain why many athletes—about 20%—who show signs of CTE do not have a history of concussions. Goldstein explained how important it will be to treat athletes who sustain hits to the hit that do not rise to the level of concussion in order to prevent further trauma that could lead to CTE. “There are many players who are hit, who are hurt and who aren’t getting help because it’s clear they’re not at the level of concussion. Their brains are not in good shape and they go on to the next hit and the next one.”
The clear takeaway message is this: Repeated hits to the head, even when those hits to the head are not significant enough to cause a concussion, eventually can lead to CTE. While researchers are continuing to explore the reasons that CTE manifests in some cases and not in others, it is important for teen athletes in particular to avoid taking hits to the head.
Contact a Vista Brain Injury Lawyer
Was your teen recently diagnosed with a head injury or a concussion as a result of playing contact sports? You should speak with an experienced Vista brain injury attorney about your case. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more about options for seeking compensation.
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(image courtesy of Jesse Orrico)