New findings from research into multiple concussions in hockey players

April 21, 2017

The relationship between head injuries suffered during contact sport and Alzheimer's disease is now being called into question thanks to research by the Sahlgrenska Academy, which has revealed that hockey players with multiple concussions probably have other injuries in their brains.

"There seem to be two separate conditions and pathologies involved here," says Pashtun Shahim, a doctor and researcher of neurology and physiology.

He himself has met the 28 sportspeople who were the subjects of the research, the majority of whom were elite ice from Sweden (both male and female).

All of them had experienced long-term problems after suffering concussion on multiple occasions, with complaints including sensitivity to noise and light, irritability, depression, difficulty concentrating and memory problems.

No Plaque Formation

"You can experience a lot of problems following a concussion, but these usually resolve within a few days or weeks; this group, though, experienced the problems for more than three months," Pashtun Shahim tells us.

The research indicates that there is a general change in the metabolism or processing of a protein called (APP), from which Alzheimer-related beta-amyloids are excreted in the nerve-cell connections (synapses)..

This effect on the could indicate that there is synaptic damage, even if it is not completely understood why. The research indicates that there is an element of inflammation involved also.

"At the same time, however, the results do not indicate that there is any plaque pathology like you would see in, for example, Alzheimer's, which is a very important discovery," says Pashtun Shahim.

The changes mainly affected the hockey players who had been suffering concussion-related complaints for a very long time, i.e. more than a year, and as such had not been able to return to the sport. The other players did not produce the same results, nor did the 19 healthy individuals who made up the control group.

Follow-Up Anticipated

Pashtun Shahim wanted to emphasize that the research was based on samples from living human beings and the fluid – CSF – found in the cavity of the brain, not on material from autopsies as was the case in previous studies, which were based on (for example) the brains of boxers who had passed away.

"These findings indicate that there is a connection between the long-term complaints suffered following a concussion and - the first time that these two could be linked, with evidence found in living contact sport athletes. This means that we can follow up on these people in five or ten years' time and see how their problems have developed. There are currently no drugs on the market to combat the complaints, we merely treat them symptomatically, but the findings of the research may help us understand better the underlying pathophysiology and hopefully render in developing better therapeutics in the future," says Pashtun Shahim.

Explore further: Blood test might help spot, monitor concussions

More information: Pashtun Shahim et al. Astroglial activation and altered amyloid metabolism in human repetitive concussion, Neurology (2017). DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000003816

Related Stories

Blood test might help spot, monitor concussions

March 13, 2014
(HealthDay)—When someone suffers a concussion, it can be hard to tell how serious it is and how long recovery will take, but a new blood test might help answer those questions.

Study examines cognitive and psychosocial function of retired professional hockey players

April 13, 2017
Researchers at Baycrest Health Sciences' Rotman Research Institute have reported the most comprehensive neuropsychological study of retired professional ice hockey players to date. They found that the alumni involved in the ...

Brain protein predicts recovery time following concussion

January 7, 2017
Elevated levels of the brain protein tau following a sport-related concussion are associated with a longer recovery period and delayed return to play for athletes, according to a study published in the January 6, 2017 issue ...

Brains of college athletes with prior concussion show physical changes months, years later

July 21, 2016
University athletes with a history of concussion had changes in the size, blood flow and connections in their brains months and even years after the injury - changes not seen in athletes without prior concussions, a new study ...

Women may be at higher risk for sports-related concussion than men

February 28, 2017
Women athletes are 50 percent more likely than male athletes to have a sports-related concussion, according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 69th Annual Meeting ...

Evidence shows concussions require long-term follow-up for players

February 17, 2013
As the National Football League braces for lawsuits by 4000 former players alleging the league failed to protect them from the long-term consequences of concussions, game-changing research by a leading Canadian researcher ...

Recommended for you

Intermittent fasting found to increase cognitive functions in mice

December 12, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—The Daily Mail spoke with the leader of a team of researchers with the National Institute on Aging in the U.S. and reports that they have found that putting mice on a diet consisting of eating nothing every ...

Neuroscientists show deep brain waves occur more often during navigation and memory formation

December 12, 2017
UCLA neuroscientists are the first to show that rhythmic waves in the brain called theta oscillations happen more often when someone is navigating an unfamiliar environment, and that the more quickly a person moves, the more ...

How Zika virus induces congenital microcephaly

December 12, 2017
Epidemiological studies show that in utero fetal infection with the Zika virus (ZIKV) may lead to microcephaly, an irreversible congenital malformation of the brain characterized by an incomplete development of the cerebral ...

Presurgical imaging may predict whether epilepsy surgery will work

December 11, 2017
Surgery to remove a part of the brain to give relief to patients with epilepsy doesn't always result in complete seizure relief, but statisticians at Rice University have developed a method for integrating neuroimaging scans ...

Selecting sounds: How the brain knows what to listen to

December 11, 2017
How is it that we are able—without any noticeable effort—to listen to a friend talk in a crowded café or follow the melody of a violin within an orchestra?

Scientists discover new way to help nerve regeneration in spinal cord injury

December 11, 2017
There is currently no cure for spinal cord injury or treatment to help nerve regeneration so therapies offering intervention are limited. People with severe spinal cord injuries can remain paralysed for life and this is often ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.