St. Michael’s Information

The Vancouver Sun has this information regarding the previous press release.  A lot of the information is not “ground breaking” per se, rather just a confirmation of what most have been saying for a very long time;

Although symptoms of a concussion may not be immediate, researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto have been able to show in rats that the affected portions of the brain continue to worsen as time passes during a “vulnerability phase.”

“We can see the actual neurons deteriorating for days and days afterwards,” Dr. Andrew Baker, the study’s head researcher said Wednesday. “It’s an ongoing problem and opens up the possibility that doctors can jump in there to stop it. This first step is to show we can show that it takes several days for the effects of a concussion to be visible.”

The “vulnerability phase” may just be the period during which the concussion has not recovered; if you remember back to our example of a concussion via a snow globe, the brain would be vulnerable during the time the flakes were excited.  As the brain has the “cascade” of events including the decrease in blood flow to the brain then the neurons would deteriorate due to lack of nutrients.  The physical effects of a concussion through imaging is very important, however if it takes “several days” to do this then what can we do in the meantime?

In a finding that may be more important to the military than sports was this;

The yearlong study also found mild to severe concussions in the rats exposed to low intensity shock waves from a distance.

Baker said this is significant because it demonstrates that concussions aren’t necessarily the result of physical injury to the head.

As we have found out in sports, one does not necessarily need to take a shot to the head to expose the brain to forces that would create a concussive episode; this is groundbreaking research for those in the military that continue to believe that concussions are a result of direct trauma, to the head.

Continuing on the thought of sub-concussive forces to the brain as they pile up on someone the damage sustained at the cellular level can be just as damming as a significant enough blow to create severe symptoms.  The researches hammered home the thoughts;

Those who suffer from multiple concussions will lose their concentration, ability to string together thoughts and perform simple functions. Others will also lose any understanding of theoretical thoughts.

Unfortunately, there is still no way to reverse these symptoms and researchers now have the task to pinpoint how to lessen them or slow them down, said Baker.

A lot of this information was first brought to the public by Guskiewicz et al in the middle 2000’s in the Journal of Athletic Training.  As one of our letter writers during NATM so eloquently put it;

Athletic Trainers were the first to identify that once you’ve had one concussion you are more likely to have a second; and they were the first to document the long-term issues of cognitive health faced by retired NFL athletes.  Athletic Trainers are leading, and will continue to lead, the way on this issue.

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