Concussion damage follows for decades

Posted on Feb 17, 2009 in Health & Wellness

Ivanhoe Broadcast News
Thursday, January 29, 2009


By Kirsten Houmann, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — For the 50,000 to 300,000 athletes who sustain concussions in the United States each year, a new study brings bad news about their future mental health.

In the first study to look at long-term effects of sports-related concussions, findings show former athletes who sustained concussions more than 30 years ago still suffer problems with memory, attention span and movement.

Investigators compared 19 50- to 60-year-old former athletes who experienced concussions once or twice in early adulthood with 21 former athletes of the same age range with no history of concussions. Participants underwent tests that measured orientation, attention, recall, language, the ability to follow commands, memory, brain response and motor control.

Compared to athletes with no history of concussions, those who had suffered a concussion scored lower on items like episodic memory — or memory of past events — distractibility, and speed of movement. Interestingly, previous research on the short-term effects of concussions didn’t show the same results.

“It seems as though the effects of concussion are exacerbated by the aging process,” lead study author Louis De Beaumont, a graduate student at the Centre de recherché en neuropsychologie et cognition at the Université de Montréal in Quebec, Canada, told Ivanhoe.

De Beaumont said he plans to follow up with the study participants to look for signs of Alzheimer’s disease when they’re in their 70s.

“Memory is the number one symptom that we see in people who will eventually develop Alzheimer’s disease,” De Beaumont said. “The fact that we found some memory deficits was very important.”

SOURCE: Ivanhoe interview with Louis De Beaumont; Brain, published online January 28, 2009