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Concussion brain damage may last longer than initially thought

Virginia football fans may have noticed the NFL's strict new rules this season regarding player concussions by taking men temporarily out of the game if one is believed to have been suffered. New research indicates that the brain injury may be more pernicious that previously thought, with the organ showing abnormalities even four months after a mild concussive event. The results also revealed a greater risk of re-injury than formerly believed, meaning that the NFL may have to watch their concussed players more closely.

The Neurology journal published the study, which concluded that the end of visible concussion symptoms does not necessarily mean the end of a sufferer's damage and vulnerability. Specifically, the areas of the brain used in memory, complex tasks, planning and motivation, and other important duties still showed inconsistencies long after the concussion occurred. The worry was that the patient may be more susceptible to re-injury during that period where the effects of a brain injury were considered over.

The concern over concussions in football comes long before the NFL might come calling, according to a 2011 article in the Pediatrics journal. The study said that young players' deaths could have been prevented if those suffering head injuries were kept out of the game. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study showing that professional football players' brains showed abnormalities compared to those of non-athletes.

Football players aren't the only people at risk of concussion. An auto accident or fall can cause a traumatic brain injury that may require physical therapy or rehabilitation. Some brain trauma may result in permanent disability that could mean long-term care. Families and loved ones of individuals who have suffered brain damage due to the action or negligence of another may be able to seek accident compensation in a court of law.

Source: Bloomberg, "Brain Still Harmed by Concussion After Symptoms Decline", Elizabeth Lopatto, November 20, 2013

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