Brain injury research study: progress is ‘ordered, predictable’

This past week, brain injury once again has made sad headlines in the US this weekend with the public suicide of an NFL linebacker, following his murder of the mother of his child. Reportedly, Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs had been recently concussed, was on painkillers and had been drinking the prior evening. Thus the release of an academic research study on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive disorder that occurs as a consequence of repetitive mild traumatic brain injury such as experienced by contact sport athletes and soldiers, could not be more timely. Published in this month’s Brain: A Journal of Neurology (Oxford Journals), a research team drawn from the Boston VA, Boston University and the Mayo Clinic details the four progressive stages of CTE with symptoms progressing from headache and loss of concentration to dementia, depression, and aggression. This was based on (post-mortem) analysis of 85 brains — 64 athletes and 21 military veterans with a history of repetitive concussions. 68 had CTE and the group also had other neurological diseases. The study was funded by seven organizations, including the VA, the National Institute on Aging–and the NFL. Certainly this will be a key reference in the NFL-funded research being started by the FNIH and the US Army-NFL helmet sensor program to help detect cumulative injury [TA 7 Sept] CTE a Progressive Condition, Brain Study Shows (MedPageToday) The spectrum of disease in chronic traumatic encephalopathy (Brain): Abstract and full study (PDF)

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  1. Steve Hards, Editor

    It has been noted that a fall involving a probable brain injury when jousting changed England’s Henry VIII from a sporty, generous, cultured young prince into a cruel, paranoid and vicious tyrant.

  2. Donna Cusano

    Of note with Henry VIII is that he had multiple sporting injuries and a progression of head traumas: a serious blunt blow by a lance above the right eye at age 32 (from which point he suffered from migraines) and a severe concussion at age 44 from where the downhill mental and physical decline, which was already present, accelerated. In addition he contracted malaria at age 30, which is only noted in the article but which we now know eventually affects the brain and CNS.

    The research study points out it is length of time in activites that have the potential of head injury–and [u]frequent[/u] sub-clinical traumas, which Henry most certainly had–that counts. Students of the King’s life could certainly match his medical history to the four stages of CTE outlined in this study.