Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lou Gehrig's Disease May Be Connected to Concussions

There is no more important time than now to stress the importance of using a neurocognitive concussion test, like the ImPACT test, on all contact and contact/collision athletes. This means starting at the youth/club level and continuing through the elite and professional levels. There has been an effort to educate the sport culture about the danger of increased intracranial pressure caused by of Second Impact Syndrome (SIS). Now as this education effort is taking place, we find that SIS is not the only danger if an athlete is allowed to return-to-play before a head injury has been resolved. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has been identified by the Tau protein in the brains of former professional football athletes. This is a condition where repetitive concussive and sub-concussive forces to the head have resulted in depression and dementia-like symptoms. Dr. Ann McKee (Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy) was instrumental in discovering the Tau protein which is evident in CTE. She and the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy are also instrumental in the very recent discovery (to be published next week in the Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology) which possibly has a significant connection between head injury and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease. In this study, another protein has been identified (TDP-43) creating a connection between ALS and head injuries. With evidence mounting concerning the effects of repetitive traumatic forces to the brain, if sport is to survive the athlete must be protected. Developing a concussion protocol and requiring neurocognitive testing must not be a thought for a sport league or athletic program. It must be a reality. What a coincidence that a concussion may have had a role in Lou Gehrig’s roll in securing a spot on the NY Yankees as well as in the disease that ultimately took his life.

See New York Times article:
Study Says Brain Trauma Can Mimic A.L.S.

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