Skip to main content

Frankly Health

By Students for Students

Sports Injuries

What Can Happen with Repeated Concussions?

 

by Ben DeCota

February 9, 2018

According to the Concussion Foundation, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, is a degenerative brain disease most commonly found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma during an extended period of time. Due to the improvement of technology and modern medicine, CTE and brain trauma is being looked at closer than ever before. CTE has been prevalent for a long time without humans knowing about it. The most commonly known cause of CTE is playing football. The exact numbers are unknown, but CTE is being found in more than 50% of ex-NFL players. The studies collected by the NFL on former players has done a great justice to the football players themselves, because it shows them what the real risks of playing the sport are. The studies which identify and help clarify what CTE is have been even more important. 

As previously stated, CTE arises after a long history of brain trauma has been exposed to a subject, but CTE truly arises from a cellular level. In early onset of CTE, a protein called tau will begin to form clumps that spread in the brain, and this tau protein kills brain cells. Typically known as the “T” protein, tau has the job of stabilizing microtubules, which are tubular structures involved in shape and transport, found in the cytoplasm of cells. This protein is highly present in nerve cells, but not as much as in oligodendrocytes or astrocytes. It is the surplus deposits of this protein which develop the problem into CTE (News Medical). However, there is a discrepancy to be aware of when speaking about tau protein in the brain. Tau is also what causes Alzheimer’s, but the difference is that with CTE, the protein clumps up in the brain's cortex. It also collects around blood vessels in the brain, which distinguishes it even more from other degenerative brain diseases (Concussion Foundation). 

One of the scary aspects of CTE is how early on in someone’s life they can get it. It has been seen in people at the age of 17, even though it is very rare. Most symptoms will start to develop in the 20’s or 30’s of one’s life. These behaviors include impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and paranoia. However, the more serious affects occur in the subject’s 40’s or 50’s, such as memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, and progressive dementia (Concussion Foundation). 

There are four different stages of CTE, each progressively worse than the last. In Stage I, tau starts to build up in isolated parts of the cortex. Stage II involves a slight spread into multiple clumps of tau, now migrating to other areas of the brain. Tau clumps, or “hot spots,” begin to blend in with one another as it spreads to the hippocampus and the amygdala in Stage III. Finally, in Stage IV, tau becomes dense and covers the brain’s cortex and starts appearing in other regions, including the spinal cord (Concussion Foundation). 

The scary thing about CTE seems to be the fact that even though there are symptoms, it can sneak up on a person in a heartbeat. This disease comes about after all the “head banging” that the subject may have done, so they will not know if it is coming until it is already there. 

The information provided is intended for factual purposes only, not to suggest or provide medical advice to you, the reader. Consult a medical professional with further questions or concerns regarding the information listed.

Citations:

(1) Dr. Ananya Mandal, MD. What are Tau Proteins? News-Medical.net. https://www.news-medical.net/life-sciences/What-are-Tau-Proteins.aspx. Published October 20, 2014. Accessed August 31, 2017. 

(2) What is CTE? Concussion Foundation. https://concussionfoundation.org/CTE-resources/what-is-CTE. Accessed August 30, 2017. 

(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_American_football#/media/File:College_Football_CSU

 

About the Author

 

Ben DeCota is a student at Franklin Pierce from Rutland, Vermont. He has chosen to major in Health Sciences on the DPT pathway, looking to pursue a career in physical therapy after his undergraduate and graduate education at FPU. 

ACL Reconstruction Methods

 

By: Lexi Duddy

 

October 10, 2019

 

The sound of an ACL snapping during the middle of a volleyball game echoed through the gym, and with that, a girl’s whole sports season was over. The ACL, or the anterior cruciate ligament, is located in the knee behind the patella and is crucial to proper movement and function for everyone. Typically, athletes are susceptible to ACL tears due to constant wear and tear, shock from impacts, constant stop-and-go motions, and pivoting. Treatment for a tear to the ACL frequently includes surgery, but recently the methods of reconstructive surgery have been evaluated for long- and short-term results.

A study done by Dr. Hetsroni, a member of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, examined long-term results regarding the athletes who underwent an ACL surgery. The study looked at fifty-five men, all between the ages of 18 and 35, and evaluated them five to ten years post-operation (1). The study found that when participating in high-activity sports, the risk of pre-injury was greater (1). Younger men are typically at a greater risk of ACL tears due to their higher activity levels (1). Additionally, higher activity levels preinjury were predictive of higher level of activity after repair. Although ACL surgery is deemed effective, there are also alternative forms of rehabilitation available post-surgery that are being considered for treating ACL tears.

Physical therapy is a necessary form of post-operative rehabilitation due to the reduced use of the leg post-tear. It is not clear what the best forms of rehabilitation are due to lack of research. A study done by Selvin Balki and his colleagues looked to determine the effect of Kinesiotherapy taping (KT Taping). KT tape is applied along muscles, ligaments, and tendons to provide a lightweight, external support that helps a patient remain active while recovering from injuries. In turn, this method helps with post-operative rehabilitation for ACL tears. Thirty males, aged just over 28 years on average, were assigned to two experimental groups. The experimental group received the KT tape and the control group received “sham KT” tape (2). The results of their experiment showed significant improvements in both groups on all of the days that were designated to evaluation. The results of the experimental group showed significant positive differences. The patients in the experimental group had less swelling around the patella, lowered pain scores, and increased hamstring mobility (2). The conclusions showed that KT tape is a beneficial addition to the rehabilitation process for ACL reconstruction surgery.

 

The information provided is intended for factual purposes only, not to suggest or provide medical advice to you, the reader. Consult a medical professional with further questions or concerns regarding the information listed.

Citations:

(1) Balki, S., GöktaƟ, H. E., & Öztemur, Z. (2016). Kinesio taping as a treatment method in the acute phase of ACL reconstruction: A double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Acta Orthopaedica Et Traumatologica Turcica, 50(6), 628-634. doi:10.1016/j.aott.2016.03.005

(2) Hetsroni, I., van-Stee, M., Marom, N., Koch, J. J., Dolev, E., Maoz, G., & ... Mann, G. (2017). Factors Associated With Improved Function and Maintenance of Sports Activities at 5 to 10 Years After Autologous Hamstring ACL Reconstruction in Young Men. Orthopaedic Journal Of Sports Medicine, 5(4), 2325967117700841. doi:10.1177/2325967117700841

Loading ...