Concussion Awareness

Jonah Meltzer

The talk given by Dr. DiFiori was both eye opening, with regards to the research and techniques being used in modern sports medicine, and informative in terms of how these techniques are actively applied to the athletes around the NCAA. While most of his talk centered around repetitive concussive brain injury (r-CBI), I found the bits about traumatic brain injury (TBI) the most interesting. In regards to TBI, Dr. DiFiori spoke about how these r-CBI sustained by the UCLA athletes become more and more serious when they are left untreated, which can largely be due to players not reporting their injuries or coaches not wanting to take their best players out of the game. The result of multiple untreated or mistreated CBI can lead to a progressive degeneration of neurons and the brain injury known as CTE. The intersection of CTE and Dr. DiFiori’s work has manifested itself in a project on TBI spearheaded by the NCAA and the DOD that is looking to explore the effects of TBI and CBI in relation to conditions such as CTE. The DOD has taken an interest in these head trauma studies because of the similar concussive and traumatic injuries that soldiers see during combat. The larger problem with active duty soldiers is that they cannot be treated as readily for these injuries as an athlete can be on the field. Therefore, it is more likely that an active duty member of the military will sustain repeated traumas within a short period of time, traumas that are more likely to go untreated. Furthermore, it has been shown that repeated head injuries, sustained within days of one another, can be far more impactful than single traumas sustained in a similar time frame (Weil, 2014). This causes further problems for veterans because of the overlapping symptomology of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and CTE. The symptoms manifested by the two disorders have a striking similarity and often lead to a misdiagnosis, and as a result, mistreatment. When the symptoms of either disorder are manifested clinicians tend to treat for CTE first because it is a biologically occurring disorder that can be mediated with drug therapies, however, PTSD is cognitive and can be left untreated as a result of being more difficult to treat. Through the discovery of novel information with regards to CTE through studies conducted by researchers such as Dr. DiFiroi the two disorders are becoming more accessible to diagnose and treat individually, making for quicker and more complete rehabilitation of veterans.

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