Repeated Head Injury and Its Future Consequences
Scientists are only just beginning to comprehend the future consequences of the repeated head injuries that cause trauma to the brain. Many studies indicate that even multiple minor concussions that occur without the accompanying unconsciousness to indicate a moderate or severe head injury can create symptoms that are far worse than what would be expected.
These sorts of multiple traumas may lead to chronic insomnia, concentration difficulties and personality changes such as irritability and depression. They are also linked to the development of the fatal neurodegenerative disease ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.)
What Are Repeated Head Injuries?
Repeated head injuries that happen over a short period of time, such as hours or even a few days can lead to a vegetative state or brain death but even when multiple head injuries are spread out over months or years they apparently have a severe cumulative impact on the victim of the head injury’s ability to remember, think and perform everyday activities. Some studies also indicate that an initial traumatic head injury drastically increases one’s risk of sustaining later head traumas.
Most research on repeated head injuries focuses on sports injuries caused by boxing, football, wrestling, hockey and skiing. Doubtless, these athletes are at a greater risk for head injuries than the general population but brain injuries are also a risk for active duty military personnel, construction workers, heavy industry workers, law enforcement officers and anyone who drives regularly.
A repeated head injury can have grave and catastrophic consequences made all the worse if the injuries were caused directly or indirectly by another person.
Victims of these types of injuries have the right to hold those responsible legally liable for the future consequences and through the help of head injury lawyer may be able to recover financial damages from the past, present and future costs associated with the head trauma.
Symptoms to Watch Out for After Repeated Head Injuries
A head injury is defined as any trauma to the head but typically also indicates an injury to the brain. Head injuries are caused by impact or pressure from blunt or penetrating sources.
A penetrating injury occurs when the source of trauma breaks through the bones of the skull, while a blunt injury does not penetrate but can still cause damage to the brain.
What scientists do know now is that repeated brain traumas tangle the nerve fibers of the brain and this is believed to be what causes the future loss of functions.
Beyond the typical symptoms of a head injury such as loss of consciousness, dizziness, headaches and memory difficulties is important to watch out for Second Impact Syndrome and Dementia Pugilistica.
Second Impact Syndrome is the medical term for a head injury sustained while the symptoms of another head injury are still present.
Sadly common in high school athletes who are told by their well-intentioned coaches to work through their injuries, the second impact causes the victim to appear stunned momentarily, and then collapse. It is believed the brain’s ability to regulate its own blood supply is damaged on the second impact and subsequently swells enough to cause the brain to fail. 50% of victims of Second Impact Syndrome die and a large percentage slip into a coma or become brain dead.
Dementia Pugilistica is another name for chronic traumatic encephalopathy and develops over a 10 year period or longer. Similar in some ways to Alzheimer’s disease, those who suffer from Dementia Pugilistica lose their mental abilities and memories over time, develop tremors similar to those seen in Parkinson’s disease and may have a difficult time speaking, walking or behaving in a socially appropriate manner.
This condition is most commonly known in boxers but other retired athletes such as football players are coming forward with it as well.
Sports Related Head Injuries
One of our nation’s favorite pastimes, football and cheerleading place the male and female athletes who engage in it in the highest risk category for dangerous head injuries. Head injuries lead to more fatalities than any other kind of sports injury.
Head injuries cause most football deaths but also frequently lead to the death of soccer players, wrestlers, baseball players, track members and many other sports.
Tagged a ‘silent epidemic’ because of the relatively low attention paid to repeated injuries to the head as compared to neurological illnesses, head injuries result in over 250,000 concussions annually in the football arena alone.
Repeated concussions occurring within a short span of time can be fatal and lead to second-impact syndrome. Second-impact syndrome is the rapid swelling and herniation of the brain and has a 50% mortality rate and an almost 100% morbidity rate.
Lou Gehrig’s Disease/ALS
ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and is sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. A progressive neuromuscular illness that causes a gradual and continual degeneration of the upper motor neurons in the brain and the lower motor neurons to the spine it causes its victims to atrophy, become paralyzed and ultimately die.
It is a multifaceted and mystifying illness. ALS causes are not fully known. Studies have not proven conclusively any correlation between dietary habits, location, environment or how victims have lived to explain its development in individuals.
ALS typically presents itself later in life when it is already fully developed. A clear genetic connection exists in only about 5% of ALS cases and genetic studies done in the early 1990s showed the possibility that a single gene defect could be the cause of a small portion of this 5%.
Recently statistical and scientific research of ALS has shown the possibility the repeated injuries to the head may cause Lou Gehrig’s disease. A study investigated 10 athletes who had died and who had to stay multiple concussions during the course of their lifetimes.
Three of these athletes have been diagnosed with ALS and post-mortem examinations showed two kinds of proteins associate with disease in their spinal cords and brains. But there is some debate as to whether those studied truly had ALS or instead suffered from brain injuries and mini-strokes that mimic the signs and symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.