A Single Traumatic Brain Injury Can Provoke Serious Cognitive Problems Years Later

Tuesday, September 20, 2011
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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A sobering study by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has found that even one traumatic brain injury, such as a concussion, can provoke the formation of various types of brain tangles that are typical of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. In my recent article, How to Recover from a Concussion, I explain groundbreaking science on how the core subconscious brain is injured and how it excessively produces substance P.

This is a significant issue, since 1.7 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. Many of the subjects are young athletes playing contact sports. 

The current study is based on post-mortem analysis of the brains of individuals who had a TBI. The analysis was done between 1 to 47 years following the original injury and was compared to an aged-matched control group that had no history of a previous brain injury.

Those with the TBI history showed a high density and wide distribution of neurofibrillary tau tangles and amyloid-beta plaque pathology far beyond what was found in controls. Specifically, about a third of the cases showed tangle pathology years after a single TBI, similar in appearance to the tangles found after repetitive TBI and in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, the amyloid-beta plaques were not only found years after TBI, but the majority of cases displayed diffuse as well as “neuritic” plaques with the same character as “senile” plaques also found in Alzheimer’s disease. This suggests that years after a single TBI, amyloid-beta plaques may return and become neuritic.

This finding is rather alarming. It means that a high level of care needs to be taken to fully recover from a brain injury to prevent this “forest fire” keep burning in the brain and induce long term damage to cognitive function. I discuss specific nutrients that can be taken to help recover from a concussion in the above article. This article suggests that such nutrition is a good idea for a rather long period of time following any significant brain injury to prevent the injury from further damaging the the rest of the brain.

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