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Kacie Neurohr & Tori Clayton

Concussions Long & Short Term Effects

Mrs Koch

19 January, 2018

Concussions: Long and Short Term Effects

Concussions are caused by a violent shock to the head which causes the brain to shake

inside the skull. The meninges, which usually cushion the brain, are sometime stretched leading

to less cushioning which will cause bruising to the brain if the head is hit with enough force.

They can come from an impact in a contact sport, something such as a soccer ball or hockey

puck hitting your head with enough force, or even just falling. Concussions vary in severity

ranging from just mild (grade 1), moderate (grade 2) and severe (grade 3). Depending on the

severity of your concussion, you will face different symptoms for different amounts of time

whether it be for just a few hours, a few days, a few weeks, or even months. Although most

symptoms may seem to go away after awhile, studies have found that people who have suffered

from a concussion are still suffering from different diseases and are facing many repercussions

years after they are first diagnosed. “In the past, it was thought that if you hit your head, you felt

bad for a few weeks or a few months, and then you went on with your life. But recently, growing

interest in brain science, along with new tools to delve into its mysteries—as well as enhanced

public awareness about sports-related concussions and brain injuries sustained in war—has

brought a sharpened focus to the issue.” (Ault, Alicia) Throughout this paper, we will be

discussing both the long and short term effects concussions have on the brain and the bodies of

people.
Concussions result in traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) which can result in both short and

long term effects. “About 300,000 TBIs occur each year as the result of sports, according to a

study published in the Journal of Athletic Training. Female athletes have higher rates of

concussions than do their male counterparts, according to the American Physical Therapy

Association. While concussions can occur during nearly any sport, they are most common in

football, wrestling, ice hockey, basketball, field hockey and lacrosse.” (Office of Public Affairs)

With this extremely high number of brain injuries occuring, people; specifically doctors and

other medical professionals, are becoming concerned with the effects it will have on both adults

and children in their futures. Due to the fact that the number of ED visits for children with brain

injuries rose by 57 percent between the years of 2001 and 2009, people are very worried about

what health problems these children will face in the future. Melissa McCradden, a neuroscience

postdoctoral fellow at McMaster University, said that, “Not only are newborn neurons critical for

memory, but they are also involved in mood and anxiety”. This may explain why these kids who

are suffering from brain trauma are also suffering from depression and mood swings later in life.

By hitting your head or being violently shaken, your brain can easily be injured. One of

the most common misconceptions about concussions is that it is only a minor brain injury. This

is in comparison to someone having a traumatic brain injury and being in the intensive care unit.

The majority of concussion cases are not fatal or that severe compared to traumatic brain injury,

but their side effects can still be serious.

When someone receives a blow, bump, or shake of the head, the brain, which floats in a

protective fluid, hits the skull. This can cause damage or bruising to the brain. On a cellular level

concussions can cause the axons in the brain to break or stretch. This is a problem because it

causes the brain to not be able to send signals or may have trouble sending signals. Beyond the
signaling problem when axons break apart they release harmful chemicals that can damage the

healthy nerves in your brain. This can be one of the causes of some of the side effects the

concussed victim can feel like headaches or fuzziness. At an organ level, after the brain collides

with the skull, the brain and its meninges can swell being one cause of headaches and the feeling

of pressure in one’s head.

The effects of concussions can result in headaches, nausea, and overall fuzziness. Things

like tv, homework, or cell phones should not be used during concussions. A concussion victim

needs to relax the brain to help it heal. Using these items can cause side effects to linger longer

thereby lengthening the time of the concussion.

Although most people think that there are only short term effects to having a concussion,

many studies have found links between concussions and diseases such as Alzheimer's disease,

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (or CTE), impairment in functions such as analyzing,

planning efficiently and organizing data, sleep disorders, and depression. People do not seem to

realize that brain trauma sticks with you for your whole life. It is not something you can ever

completely heal from. Being concussed once causes enough damage on it’s own but as some

people begin to pile one concussion on top of another, they are beginning to face more and more

permanent damage. Most people have reported that their symptoms subsided or disappeared

completely after a couple years once receiving help from doctors although for some people the

symptoms are permanent. “"We found that having a concussion was associated with lower

cortical thickness in brain regions that are the first to be affected in Alzheimer's disease,"

explained corresponding author Jasmeet Hayes, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at BUSM

and research psychologist at the National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System.”

(Boston University Medical Center) This discovery, along with all of the other ones relating to
what can be affected when someone is diagnosed with a concussion is revolutionary in helping to

prevent concussions as well as further enhance the treatment plans for people who have suffered

from brain trauma.

After suffering from traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions, people have also been

found to have a decreased life span. Dr Steven Flanagan, director of the Rusk Institute of

Rehabilitation Medicine at the New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City,

said, “There are a couple of lines of evidence to suggest that after a particularly acute brain

injury that you have shorter life expectancy, even if you survive the acute injury phase.”

(Lauren) A 2004 study of 2,178 patients showed that a reduced life expectancy was given to

those who had suffered from moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries. Later, in 2007, a study

at the Oxford Journal Brain showed that 767 people who were admitted to a hospital in the

United Kingdom with a traumatic brain injury were almost two times as likely to die within

seven years of obtaining the injury compared to the general population. Many of these patients

suffered from seizures which doctors and researchers believe were a result from the brain injuries

they suffered earlier in their lives. “Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine, USA

found that football players who started playing before age 12 had more than twice the odds for

clinical impairment in executive function (including analyzing, planning, and organizing tasks),

regulating their behavior, and apathy, compared to players who started playing at age 12 or later.

They also had more than three times the odds for depression.” (BioMed Central) Many who

suffered from depression were found to have commited or at least had thoughts about

committing suicide throughout their lives.

One of the most common disease that are caused by head trauma is CTE or Chronic

Traumatic Encephalopathy. “In CTE, a protein called Tau forms clumps that slowly spread
throughout the brain, killing brain cells.” (McMaster University) This disease has mostly

affected war veterans and basketball players. The youngest case ever reported was in a 17 year

old but the effects of this disease do not usually set in until years after the brain trauma.

According to reports from the Concussion Legacy Foundation, “as the disease progresses, some

patients may experience problems with thinking and memory, including memory loss, confusion,

impaired judgement, and eventually progressive dementia. Cognitive symptoms tend to appear

later than mood and behavioral symptoms, and generally first appear in a patient’s 40s or 50s.”

(Concussion Legacy Foundation) In 1928 the first cases of this disease were reported in boxers.

Throughout the next 75 years, 50 more cases in people with similar conditions were found. Over

200 cases in football players have been confirmed, 25 in the military, 20 in both hockey and

soccer have been reported since. With football being the leading sport with cases of CTE

following the many years of continuous, purposeful hits to the head, people have started to

question whether the risks of the sport are worth it.

Although there is no way to completely prevent getting a concussion, there are steps you Commented [1]: Great summative conclusion on
prevention!
can take to prevent further brain damage after suffering from one. To first avoid them as much as

possible, you should follow all rules and regulations in contact sports. One should also play fair

and show good sportsmanship so that no one ends up getting fouled and injuring themselves or

others. By wearing equipment such as helmets and goggles in sports such as lacrosse, football,

and skiing, you will have an extra layer of cushioning should you hit your head. If you do suffer

from brain damage, you should be sure to follow all instructions from your doctor so as not to

aggravate your already fragile brain as it tries to heal itself. By sitting out and taking it easy, you

will give your brain the chance to heal to its fullest potential. If you go right back out onto the

field or slopes, you run the risk of injuring yourself again and this time it could be much worse as
your brain is still injured. Injuring an already hurt brain would be just like running on a broken

ankle. You have to give it plenty of time to heal so that you do not suffer years in the future.