Concussions have been in the news in the past couple of years and for good reason. It’s been discovered that the brain can take much longer to heal from even a minor trauma than expected. Also, the damage from mild concussions can accumulate. Helmet designers are outdoing themselves in high-tech solutions and many parents are pulling back from high contact sports — particularly football, now the poster child for concussion risk.
Adding fuel to the fire, the journal Radiology published a study finding that a mild concussion can cause changes in the brain that look like early Alzheimer’s Disease. Parents of football players, take a deep breath. This is only one study and it found correlation, but it did not prove that concussions cause Alzheimer’s.
The primary benefit of the study should be to direct future studies. Now that a correlation has been found, scientists have more work to do, first to replicate this study on a larger scale — only 64 people were studied. Then to attempt to prove that one catalyst leads to the result, or that it doesn’t.
Getting hit in the head is a common experience — who hasn’t hit her head on a cabinet when looking under the sink? Or walked too close to a low branch? Clearly, not all mild concussions lead to Alzheimer’s or any other lasting damage. However, learning more about the damage concussions can do is frightening but necessary for families to make the best health decisions.
–Suzanne B. Robotti