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1 in 5 teens diagnosed with concussions

…but brain trauma is caused by less severe blows, not concussions.

A study reported in the Journal Brain (see below) in January 2018 finds that although concussions (defined as severe blows to the head that result in immediate and acute symptoms) have received much attention in studying brain trauma, it is milder hits to the head that actually cause the degenerative condition known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).  CTE has been diagnosed in the brains of many athletes, military personnel and others, through post-mortem autopsies, where brains show significant degeneration and signs of disease.

This is surprising and belies the common understanding that brain injury results only from concussions.  It’s time for medical experts and other officials to rethink their flawed conclusions.

Two statistics are relevant here:  1) Diagnosed concussions are not very common, in sports or in other walks of life.  2) Mild traumatic brain injury, defined as hits, blows and other impacts account for the majority of head injuries worldwide.  Taken together then, it appears that experts have been grossly under-counting the amount of head injury and the potential for traumatic brain injury from all other SUB-CONCUSSIVE impacts (sub-concussive hits are hits that are milder than concussions).

This serves to put in perspective the recent study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which found that 20% of the more than 13,000 adolescents surveyed had been previously diagnosed with a concussion.  Although the count of 1 in 5 teens being diagnosed with concussions is surprisingly greater than expected, the reality is that many, many more children, adolescents and young adults in the population appear to be at risk from the milder levels of brain trauma they have suffered in their lives.  Left alone, it appears that milder brain trauma could readily lead to brain pathology, disease and degeneration, such as that found in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Dr Lee Goldstein, MD, PhD, an associate professor at the Boston University School of Medicine and College of Engineering, (see video above for an excellent overview from Dr. Goldstein) said: ‘The concussion is the red herring here. Our results may explain why approximately 20 percent of athletes with CTE never suffered a diagnosed concussion. These findings provide strong evidence – the best evidence so far, that sub concussive impacts are not only dangerous but also causally linked to CTE.

"There are many players who are hit, who are hurt and who aren’t getting help because it’s clear that they’re not at the level of concussion. Their brains are not in good shape and they go on to the next hit and the next one.” 

If you want to learn more, the Concussion Legacy Foundation has some excellent reference information on CTE and subconcussive trauma here.

PeakBrain’s clients have found remarkable relief from a variety of physical, emotional and cognitive symptoms resulting from subconcussive and concussive brain injury.  Please contact us by clicking below or call us at 972.449.0441 to learn more about our programs.


Brain, Volume 141, Issue 2, 1 February 2018, Pages 422–458,

JAMA. 2017;318(12):1180-1182.


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