People who suffer repetitive head injuries experience increased symptoms of depression and a greater risk of cognitive decline as they age. Those with a history of repetitive head injuries and TBI that resulted in a loss of consciousness reported higher levels of mental health problems, including depressive symptoms.
Even without a concussion, repetitive impacts experienced by those who play contact sports have clear effects on the brain. Rugby players who reported no concussions had alterations in the microstructure of the brain, specifically in the brain stem. Alterations in the functional organization of the brain were also discovered in MRI images of those who played contact sports.
Varsity football players who experienced concussions performed well on cognitive tests but showed strong impairments in tests related to inhibitory control. Many reported problems with the ability to suppress thoughts, actions, and feelings following concussions. The findings shed light on the long-term implications of sports-related concussions.
Growth hormone replacement therapy for those with mild traumatic brain injury helped improve cognition, anxiety, and depression while reducing fatigue and sleep disturbances.
Alzheimer's patients who used antipsychotics had a 29% increased risk of head injury and a 22% higher risk of TBI compared to others with the neurodegenerative disease who did not use the medications.
Traumatic brain injury caused five times as many neurons in the amygdala to be active during white noise exposure in rats. Altered sensory processing within subcortical sensory-emotional networks following TBI impacts the facilitation of traumatic memory and may contribute to the development of PTSD.
It is well documented that professional boxing causes neurological impairment. A new study reveals routine sparring can cause short term impairments in brain-muscle communication and a decrease in memory performance.
Longer career length and playing specific positions put NFL players at greater risk of developing cognitive problems and mental health issues. Playing for 10 or more seasons increased the risks for depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment twice as much than those who played for a single season. For every five seasons of play, the risks increase 20% for cognitive impairment. Those most at risk are running backs, linebackers and those who played special teams positions.
Former NFL players who received a concussion while playing are more likely to report low testosterone and erectile dysfunction. Researchers speculate the reason could be damage to the pituitary gland caused by concussion may spark a cascade of hormonal changes.
Sustained hits following one season of playing football are enough to cause structural alterations to the brain. When players sustain a concussion, structural brain integrity decreases, and levels of tau increase. Researchers say, while concussions are a prime concern for those who play football, sustained hits also pose a threat to neurological health.