Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Brain Trauma

Did you catch the movie Concussion, in which Will Smith plays the forensic pathologist who identifies (on autopsy) neurological deterioration in the brain of a former football player similar to Alzheimer's disease? Known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy [CTE], this progressive brain disease is linked to head trauma. It can occur from direct blows, blast injuries, hitting your head in a vehicle accident or fall, from sports that “head” the ball, or by failing to wear appropriate protective head gear for any number of activities. Brain tissue has been shown to display an abnormal buildup of tau, a protein which negatively impacts neuron pathways. Although symptoms may not show up for years, they typically include problems with short-term memory, mood and fear, and behavioral disturbances—e.g., depression, impulsivity, judgement, aggressiveness, anger, and irritability—that can escalate to suicidal behavior and lead to dementia. A small subset may develop Motor neuron disease (MND), a progressive condition similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [ALS], which is characterized by profound weakness, atrophy, and spasticity. Bottom line: plan ahead to avoid brain bashing. Today’s choices can impact your brain in the future and potentially even shorten your lifespan. No simple fixes or replacements are available for your one and only brain! 

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