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Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Football: Even “minor” hits can cause brain damage

Today the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Neu­rol­o­gy (AAN) “is call­ing for any ath­lete who is sus­pect­ed of hav­ing a con­cus­sion to be removed from play until the ath­lete is eval­u­at­ed by a physi­cian with train­ing in the eval­u­a­tion and man­age­ment of sports con­cus­sion.”

At the same time, an arti­cle in Sports Illus­trat­ed reports a new study in which Pur­due researchers put sen­sors (accelerom­e­ters) in the hel­mets of 23 seniors from Jef­fer­son High in Lafayette, Ind. Results are sur­pris­ing and con­cern­ing: Hits that do not even lead to con­cus­sions can have a much big­ger impact on the brain than we thought. Read the rest of this entry »

Head Games and neuropsychological assessments

You may have seen this insigh­ful OpEd last Fri­day in the New York Times, by clin­i­cal neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist Ger­ald Tra­mon­tano:

Head Games

- “CHILDREN aged 5 to 18 suf­fer at least 96,000 sports-relat­ed con­cus­sions every year in the Unit­ed States, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion esti­mates. Even more trou­bling, as many as 20 per­cent of all high school foot­ball play­ers sus­tain con­cus­sions annu­al­ly, stud­ies show.”

- “The only way to know for sure whether a con­cus­sion vic­tim’s brain has returned to nor­mal is to com­pare the results of neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal tests con­duct­ed before and after the injury. That requires prepar­ing ath­letes for the sea­son by putting them through base­line test­ing.”

Com­ment: Great OpEd, rais­ing aware­ness of a prob­lem with grow­ing impor­tance — not only in terms of sports con­cus­sions, but also car acci­dents, strokes, and a vari­ety of life-events that may pro­voke brain dam­age — and intro­duc­ing read­ers to the need for cog­ni­tive base­lines for spe­cif­ic indi­vid­u­als.

Now, we will prob­a­bly need to go fur­ther than the author of the OpEd sug­gests. There are sim­ply not enough neu­ropsy­chol­o­gists in the whole plan­et to test one-per­son at a time for 4‑hours each, and the cost of try­ing so would be astro­nom­i­cal.

The more real­is­tic route is to com­bine a) ful­ly-auto­mat­ed com­put­er-based assess­ments as a base­line, b) the involve­ment of a neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist when need­ed, prob­a­bly both to super­vise the whole assess­ment pro­gram for a sports team, for exam­ple, and then to super­vise the post-dam­age reha­bil­i­ta­tion process.

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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