Multiple hits over time can cause concussion
The number and severity of head impacts — not just a single large head impact — may cause concussion, according to findings recently published in Annals of Biomedical Engineering.
“Studies of football athletes have implicated repetitive head impact exposure in the onset of cognitive and brain structural changes, even in the absence of diagnosed concussion,” Brian D. Stemper, PhD, of the joint department of biomedical engineering at Marquette University and Medical College of Wisconsin, and colleagues wrote.
“Those studies imply accumulating damage from successive head impacts reduces tolerance and increases risk for concussion. Support for this premise is that biomechanics of head impacts resulting in concussion are often not remarkable when compared to impacts sustained by athletes without diagnosed concussion,” they added.
Researchers quantified repetitive head impact exposure in 50 NCAA Division I college football athletes with concussion vs. controls matched for position and team. For those with concussion, researchers also quantified the number of head impacts and risk-weighted exposure both the day of injury and for the season to the date of injury.
Stemper and colleagues found:
- 72% of athletes with concussion had the most or second-most severe head impact exposure vs. control.
- 46% of athletes had the highest number of head impacts for the season up to and including the injury date vs. control.
- 43% of athletes had the highest number of head impacts on the date of injury vs. control.
“This unique analysis provides further evidence for the role of repetitive head impact exposure as a predisposing factor for the onset of concussion among Division I college football athletes,” Stemper said in a press release.
“While these trends require further validation, the clinical implication of these findings supports the contemporary trend of limiting head impact exposure for college football athletes during practice sessions,” he added.
Healio Family Medicine has reported extensively on the signs of concussion. Managing patients with concussion starts with recognizing the symptoms, such as disorientation, confusion, impaired concentration, irritability, anxiety, altered sleep and sometimes loss of consciousness. Mood-related symptoms might include irritability, anxiety, mood lability, or altered sleep. Other Healio reports have examined these head injuries’ link to vision problems and their link to suicide. – by Janel Miller
Disclosures: Stemper reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other relevant financial disclosures.