Repeated Head Impacts Linked to Depression and Cognitive Problems

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Many people enjoy watching sports games. Suspenseful and stimulating competition gave us a surge of excitement. Some people even dreamed that one day they could become sports stars just like David Beckham.


Professional athletes do not have an easy life. Sports stars like Beckham faced many times of body injuries, for example, repeated head impacts.



You may have heard about how debilitating a concussion could be: memory loss, dizziness, confusion, etc. One concussion is detrimental enough, multiple concussions can cause to a disaster.


A new study, published in the journal Neurology, found that depression and worse cognitive function can be a result of earlier repeated head impacts (RHI).



How the experiment went 


Scientists from Boston and California collaborated to take samples from 13,323 individuals age 40 and older (average age 62) who registered in Brain Health Registry, an online registry for people who interested in research on new treatments for diseases that affect brain function. It was found that 725 (5%) of participants have been through earlier RHI by sports, abuse or military service.


All participants have participated in depressive symptoms and computerized cognitive tests.



TBI and RHI participants versus uninjured participants


Participants with a history of both RHI and TBI (traumatic brain injury) showed greater depression symptoms than those who did not have such a history. Specifically, participants without any history of either TBI or RHI had the fewest symptoms.


RHI participants versus TBI participants


When RHI and TBI were examined separately, a history of RHI had the strongest effect on later-life symptoms of depression.



Participants with both RHI and TBI performed worst


Depression symptoms were highest for the groups who had a history of both repetitive head impacts and TBI. Especially, the group that had a history of repetitive head impacts and TBI with loss of consciousness reported the most depressive symptoms and had bad performance on almost all these computerized cognitive tests.



Robert Stern, one of the senior authors of the study, said: “Results from this study provide further evidence that exposure to repetitive head impacts, such as through the routine play of tackle football, plays an important role in the development in these later-life cognitive and emotional problems.”


Researchers want to extend their study through utilizing data from the Brain Health Registry.


It is necessary to protect our head from impacts to avoid later-life problems. Cherish those athletes who are active in the sports fields for they are truly risking their lifes.

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