Concussion and Rugby

Carlo Rinaudo Concussion and mTBI Leave a Comment

Concussion injuries are a common type of injury suffered by Rugby players. Head injuries are the second most prevalent injuries obtained by Rugby players following lower limb injuries.

Lately people are becoming more concerned about the number of reported concussion injuries in Rugby. It has been suggested that people who suffered concussions may show physical and mental effects even up to 30 years after the incident. The god news is that concussion treatment is available for anyone who has suffered a blow to the head. 12

Concerns about head injuries

Head tackling techniques have been banned by the rugby league’s governing body which shows that they are concerned about such injuries in the game. Another great concern that has been documented is the fact that many players who suffer concussion injuries return to playing the game too soon after such an injury and this potentiates the likelihood of repeat injuries. 2

Concussion injury explained

The skull serves as the brain’s bony protection, however, the interior surface of the skull is irregular and this why the fragile brain tissue can be damaged when you suffer a hit to the head. 3

The long term effects of a concussion injury

The complications that follow a traumatic brain injury mostly set in either immediately after the injury or soon after the injury. Some people may suffer from post-concussion syndrome for months or even longer after the injury. Even if an injury seems to be mild, it may lead to some disabling symptoms like:

The duration of these symptoms are variable, but they may last for months or years and they may even be accompanied by post-traumatic stress disorder.

People who suffer from post-concussion syndrome for long periods of time may not be able to return to work or sports and they may have poor quality of life and also suffer financial and social losses.

Furthermore, it has been found that a considerable percentage of people who end up getting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease suffered a traumatic brain injury in the past. 3

Parkinson’s disease and Head injury

Head trauma has been identified as a factor that may increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease later in life. Parkinson’s disease is a disorder affecting movement and the main features of the disease involve:

  • Bradykinesia (slow movement)
  • Rigidity
  • Postural instability
  • Tremor

The symptoms of this disease are connected to a deficiency of dopamine (a neurotransmitter) and this causes imbalances in brain circuits because of the death of neurons in certain parts of the brain.

The reason for this degeneration is not yet known properly, however, much research has been done on several risk factors (like traumatic brain injuries) that may be the culprits behind this disease process in order to get to get to the core of problem. 567

Alzheimer’s disease and Head Injury

Dementia is a term that describes diseases and conditions that develop after the death or malfunctioning of brain nerve cells and Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia.

When your brain nerve cells die or malfunction, you may experience changes in memory and behaviour and you will not be able to think as clearly as you used to. Inevitably, your ability to carry out normal bodily functions (like swallowing and walking) may become impaired.

It has been suggested that both moderate and severe head injuries increase a person’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. 8

Advances in public awareness

Public awareness of the long term pathological consequences of trauma-related brain injuries is escalating and repetitive head injuries in contact sports, like rugby, are now being recognized as clinically significant. 3

Concussion treatment

If you or a loved one has suffered a blow to the head, it is important to seek prompt attention. Call Brain Hub on 1300 770 197 for concussion treatment options.

 

References:

  1. Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation. Concussion effect ‘spans decades’. January 2009. [Available from: https://nwpf.org/stay-informed/news/2009/01/concussion-effect-spans-decades/]
  2. Hoskins W, Pollard H, Hough K, Tully C. Injury in rugby league. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 2006; 9: 46-56.
  3. DeKosky ST, Ikonomovic MD, Gandy S. Traumatic brain injury—football, warfare, and long-term effects. New England Journal of Medicine. 2010 Sep 30; 363(14): 1293-6.
  4. Daneshvar DH, Riley DO, Nowinski CJ, McKee AC, Stern RA, Cantu RC. Long-term consequences: effects on normal development profile after concussion. Physical medicine and rehabilitation clinics of North America. 2011 Nov 30;22(4):683-700.
  5. Mov Disord. Head injury and risk of Parkinson disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Aug 2013; 28(9): 1222-9.
  6. Rugbjerg K, Ritz B, Korbo L, Martinussen N, Olsen JH. Risk of Parkinson’s disease after hospital contact for head injury: population based case-control study. Bmj. 2008 Dec 15; 337: a2494.
  7. Goldman SM, Kamel F, Ross GW, Jewell SA, Bhudhikanok GS, Umbach D, Marras C, Hauser RA, Jankovic J, Factor SA, Bressman S. Head injury, alpha‐synuclein Rep1, and Parkinson’s disease. Annals of neurology. 2012 Jan 1; 71(1): 40-8.
  8. Alzheimer’s Association. 2013 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s & dementia. 2013 Mar 31; 9(2): 208-45.

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