The Earliest Signs of Brain Damage in Athletes? Listen for Them

Researchers tracked the words that a group of players, coaches and executives spoke spontaneously in 10,000 interviews and news conferences from 2007 to 2015.
BRENDAN MCDERMID / REUTERS

By LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN, M.D.

MAY 29, 2017

Evidence continues to mount that professional athletes in a number of contact sports are suffering brain damage as a result of head impacts. But there is no reliable test to detect the injury, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, in its earliest stages.
Even if a doctor strongly suspects that an athlete’s confusion or memory loss is related to C.T.E., proof can only be obtained on autopsy.
Now a small study of National Football League players suggests another possibility: that the signs of C.T.E. may be found with a low-cost, noninvasive test that tracks changes in conversational language years before symptoms appear.
If it works, the linguistic test also would be valuable in assessing the effectiveness of treatments to prevent cognitive damage because of C.T.E. or to slow its progression.

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Women sustain more Sports related concussions than men

According to  new research, investigators at Columbia University found that women were 50% more likely to sustain sports-related concussions than their male counterparts  when competing in sports such as soccer and basketball.

“It is unclear why women appear to be at higher risk for sports-related concussion than men. The findings from this study highlight the need for more research on the gender differences in concussion,” according to study investigator James Noble, MD, MS, a neurologist at The Neurological Institute of New York Taubs Institute, New York City.

 

Fortunately, investigators found no significant difference between  men and women in postconcussion neuropsychological test performance, suggesting that recovery time for  is very  similar to men.  The average return-to-play time was 10 days for both men and women.