Concussion with long-term consequences


A concussion can have long-lasting effects, as a research team found in the course of a comparative study.

Concussion can have long-term health consequences for those affected. A concussion does not leave any visible traces in the, but the traumatic brain injury can later become noticeable in thought processes, even if the concussion was only slight. Until now, doctors had assumed that there would be no subsequent consequences for the patient after a recovery. However, a study by the universities of Marburg and Münster contradicts this view.

A concussion, or a mild traumatic brain injury, is a concussion of the human brain, in which patients can also lose consciousness for a short time (less than 30 minutes). The shock is usually provoked by an accident or other violent external influences, such as a blow to the head. A concussion should not be confused with damage to the brain structures. If an injury has been identified, it is a matter of cerebral hemorrhage, contusion or bruising, etc. So far, doctors and researchers have always assumed that concussion does not cause any permanent, perceptible damage. Psychologists and doctors from the Universities of Münster and Marburg now contradict this common opinion. Even after only a slight concussion, those affected can suffer serious long-term consequences. The researchers were able to determine that some patients still suffer from memory problems and limited learning ability after six years. In addition, depressive complaints were much more common than previously thought.

Even minor vibrations during sports, after a fall or a car accident can trigger a slight traumatic brain injury, study author Dr. Carsten Konrad from the University of Marburg. In one study, the researchers examined a total of 33 patients who had mild traumatic brain injury a few years ago. The subjects were examined psychiatrically, neurologically, neuropsychologically and by means of magnetic resonance imaging. To compare the results, 33 subjects also took part who had not previously suffered a concussion.

Impairments in various cognitive areas such as learning, memory or attention
The results showed that, after six years, the study participants showed moderate to severe impairments in various neuropsychological areas such as learning, memory or attention, but also in the so-called executive functions, such as making plans, setting goals or making decisions. In addition, the researchers observed that depressive symptoms were significantly more common than others. "We can rule out that the observed impairments can be explained by depression or suboptimal performance," said Carsten Konrad. The study was able to prove that concussions can still be detected after years, but the causes of this need to be researched in more detail. The study results were published in the science magazine "Psychological Medicine". (sb, October 26, 2010)

Also read:
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Inadequate treatment for concussions

Photo credit: Dieter Schütz / pixelio.de

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