New research made by a team from the Örebro University in Sweden concluded that a previous concussion in teenagers increased the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) later in life, as reported by the Science Daily.
This study proved the importance of protecting teenagers from head injuries.
“Bicycle helmets is one way, and we should consider head injury risk in sports played by adolescents,” Scott Montgomery, professor and lead author of the study, said in the report.
The study, published in Annals of Neurology, is a collaborative study between Örebro University and Karolinska Institutet.
The findings showed that concussion in adolescence increased the risk of MS in later life by 22 percent for one concussion, and teenagers who experienced two or more concussions were at more than a doubled risk of MS at 133 percent.
However, the results also showed that not all teens are at risk.
“MS is caused by a combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental exposures. Most of the young people who experience a head trauma should not worry as they will not carry the necessary genes and other risks that will result in MS in later life,” Montgomery explained.
Medical records were used to identify concussions treated in hospital among children from birth to age 10 and from ages 11 to 20 among teenagers, which were then used to examine the risk of MS in later adulthood.
“We think that concussion among adolescents can indicate the processes that cause the body's immune system to attack the insulating layer of nerve cells which, over time, prevents them from functioning correctly,” Montgomery said.
Different brain developments between the two groups may have caused why the two groups had different risks of subsequent MS.
“The rapidly developing brain in earlier childhood may be more able to avoid some delayed consequences of trauma than in later teenage years,” Montgomery explained.
Despite the findings, Montgomery believed that it should not be a reason for young people to avoid sports and physical activity.
“We should consider ways to reduce the risk of head injury, especially repeated head injuries, when participating in sport,” he said.
However, senior editors of the medical journal Springer — specializing in orthopedics — urged all doctors to cut all ties with football from National Football League (NFL) to high school level, according to a report by the Daily Mail.
This is because of the growing amount of research showing the sport causes devastating brain injuries. (Related: Why do professional athletes suffer needlessly from brain and bodily injuries?)
The call was based on a study from Boston University on deceased players' brains which showed 110 of the 111 they examined had signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease which causes dementia.
Seth S. Leopold, lead author of the report and a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, concluded that football is “not consonant with the best values of their profession.”
“Is it right for us to support a game — through our presence on the sidelines or in the form of marketing and advertising dollars that splash orthopedic logos on practice jerseys and football stadiums — that causes grave harm to at least nine percent of those who play it professionally?” Leopold questioned.
They explained that they have nothing against football and that they are attentive to other studies about other sports that may eventually be proven to cause as much harm or more. However, they added that for now, they feel obliged to deal with the consistent overwhelming data from American football studies and these calls for a response.
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