Article Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

Concussion Symptoms Linked to Proteins in Spinal Fluid for First Time


Sep. 19, 2016 ABC News

Levels of certain proteins in the brain and spinal fluid of people who suffer continuing issues as a result of concussions are different from those who haven’t had concussions, according to a new small study published today in JAMA Neurology, raising the possibility that doctors may soon have objective markers to assess the severity of brain damage after head trauma.

The study is the first to examine biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid of athletes with post-concussion symptoms.

Researchers studied 31 people, 16 of whom were Swedish professional hockey players with post-concussion syndrome — a condition in which patients experience symptoms such as headaches, mood changes and difficulty concentrating for extended periods of time after a head injury. Players were compared to 15 neurologically healthy individuals.

After sampling the cerebrospinal fluid of all participants, researchers found that compared to the neurologically healthy individuals or players whose post-concussive syndrome symptoms lasted for less than a year, players who had symptoms that lasted for more than year had higher levels of proteins called Neurofilament Light (NF-L) proteins — found in the white matter of the brain — suggesting injury to areas that contain nerve fibers connecting various structures within the brain.

NF-L proteins were also higher in players who reported having had more concussions and those who had more severe post-concussion symptoms.

Researchers also found that players with post-concussion syndrome had lower levels of amyloid-beta in their spinal fluid. Amyloid-beta is protein that can clump together to form plaques that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The lower levels found in the study suggests amyloid is being deposited in the brain, as is the case in Alzheimer’s disease.

“These findings could inform decisions about whether to continue to play or not,” Dr. Michael DiGeorgia, director of the Neurocritical Care Center at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, told ABC News. DiGeorgia was not involved in this study.

“It could affect decisions around post-concussion syndrome management. If you have higher levels of NF-L proteins or low levels of amyloid, you may be on a trajectory toward more serious neurologic illness. The second or third concussion should be taken even more seriously,” DiGeorgia said.

Read More on ABC News

Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust Fund

Apply Today

All Resources

Tell Me More

Is It Possible to Program Your Happiness?

Here’s a simple trick to talk yourself into being happier.

Read More

9 Ways to Find Your Purpose As You Age

Don’t focus on the challenges of aging over the opportunities for growth.

Read More

The Surprising Reason Mindfulness Makes You Happier

Research shows it’s not just neutral observation

Read More

3 things you should do every day to improve your memory

Tips from a 4-time world memory champion.

Read More

EarQ and the NFL Players Association's PAF Team up Before Sunday's Big Game

Our partnership continued this year in Miami.

Read More

IS SITTING THE NEW SMOKING?

Set a timer to remind yourself to get up and moving.

Read More

How to Make the Most of a Day

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Read More

Will the New FICO Credit Scoring Model Help or Hurt You?

The keys to good credit haven’t changed.

Read More