Risk of Verbal Memory Loss Following Concussion

Hello, I am Ron White, Two Time USA Memory Champion. I would like to share information about brain injuries and what can happen to memory and the ability to memorize following a traumatic head injury.

We are into football season, and high school, colleges and pro teams are getting ready to hit the gridiron and get knocked on the ‘keesters’. Although getting tackled and sustaining injuries is all part of the game, many athletes don’t take seriously the effects a head injury or concussion can have on their mental and physical health – long after they have stopped playing the sport.

The American College of Sports Medicine presented a study at their 2011 annual meeting that proves football and soccer players show signs of decreased brain function after they sustain a head injury, like a concussion.

A concussion is a head injury that occurs after someone has been hit in their head, or had their head bounce around from an impact, such as a car accident or being tackled. It can produce headaches, dizziness, vomiting, mood changes, vision and hearing problems as well as difficulty in following directions. Other symptoms include ringing in the ears, neck pain, and feeling anxious, upset, irritable, depressed or tired.

It’s common for someone who’s had a head injury to forget what happened in his or her life right before, during and immediately after the accident. Memory of these events may never come back. Researchers have found that athletes who suffer a concussion exhibit poor verbal memory. They may also have problems concentrating, remembering things, putting thoughts together or doing more than one thing at a time. These symptoms usually go away in a few weeks, but may go on for more than a year if the injury was severe. Following recovery, the ability to learn and remember new things almost always returns.

Head injuries can be serious. There can be bleeding, tearing of tissues and brain swelling after the brain has been jostled around inside the skull. Most people recover from head injuries with no lasting effects, while some may have consequences that they don’t realize until years later. One example is the boxing champion, Muhammad Ali. Ali sustained numerous hits to the head, each one causing his brain to move around inside his skull. Doctors believe the mental problems Ali has today with his Parkinson’s Disease is a direct result of all the knocks he took to the head as a boxer.

One hundred college athletes who played football and soccer were tested in the American College of Sports Medicine study. Researchers found “multiple signs of decreased brain function, or cognitive processing, among those men and women who had sustained a concussion.” Most specifically, the subjects tested poorly on verbal memory as opposed to those who had never sustained a head injury.

Studies published in the Neuropsychological Assessment (2nd  Ed., 1983), by Muriel D. Lezakhave shown that as the patient’s brain adjusts to the injury it can continue to be deeply impacted by mild impairments in function, such as short-term memory.

Twenty U.S. states have passed legislation to ensure the safety of young athletes as well as educate player, parents and coaches as to the dangers of concussions. Researchers believe there is more study needed to realize the full extent concussions and head injuries can have on memory, and what problems that might develop later on.

 

 

 

Sources:

Memoryzine.com – Young Athletes Risk Verbal Memory Loss Following Concussion: http://memoryzine.com/2011/06/07/young-athletes-risk-verbal-memory-loss-following-concussion/

Brain Injury Resource Center – Memory Strategies: http://www.headinjury.com/memorystrat.html

FamiltyDoctor. org – Head Injuries, What to Watch Out For Afterward: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/brain/head/084.html

Wikipedia – Muhammad Ali: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Ali

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