Athletic concussions regularly hit headlines, but brain injuries are also alarmingly common outside of professional sports. A poll from NPR and Truven Health Analytics suggests that approximately one-quarter of Americans have suffered at least one concussion at some point. The long-term cognitive health implications could be staggering, as we reveal below:
Issues with Executive Functioning
While a growing body of research suggests that concussions can negatively impact a variety of brain processes, the effects are most evident with executive functioning. Impairments to the frontal lobe may leave sufferers struggling to focus or control their impulses.
Brain scan data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging reveals significant damage to white matter in the frontal lobe among older adults with previous concussions. This is indicative of accelerated brain aging in the previously concussed.
Mental health concerns such as depression are common in people who have suffered concussions. Studies suggest that these problems may accelerate as concussed patients age. Research reveals that traumatic brain injuries early in life are an especially significant risk factor for severe depression later on.
In the aforementioned Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, participants exhibited the loss or atrophy of tissue in the temporal lobes. This area of the brain is responsible for the encoding of memory and may be most susceptible to the age-related changes that prompt the onset of dementia.
Links to Neurodegenerative Conditions
Not only do concussions have a generally negative impact on cognitive and emotional functioning, they can also lead to a variety of devastating conditions later in life. Multiple studies suggest a link between concussions and issues such as Alzheimer’s or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.Medical News, personal injury