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Concussions and head impacts may accelerate brain aging
Date:7/31/2012

ANN ARBOR, Mich.Concussions and even lesser head impacts may speed up the brain's natural aging process by causing signaling pathways in the brain to break down more quickly than they would in someone who has never suffered a brain injury or concussion.

Researchers from the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology and the U-M Health System looked at college students with and without a history of concussion and found changes in gait, balance and in the brain's electrical activity, specifically attention and impulse control, said Steven Broglio, assistant professor of kinesiology and director of the Neurotrauma Research Laboratory.

The declines were present in the brain injury group up to six years after injury, though the differences between the study groups were very subtle, and outwardly all of the participants looked and acted the same.

Broglio, who is also affiliated with Michigan NeuroSport, stressed that the studies lay out a hypothesis where concussions and head impacts accelerate the brain's natural aging process.

The study, "Cognitive decline and aging: The role of concussive and subconcussive impacts," appears in the July issue of journal Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews.

"The last thing we want is for people to panic. Just because you've had a concussion does not mean your brain will age more quickly or you'll get Alzheimer's," Broglio said. "We are only proposing how being hit in the head may lead to these other conditions, but we don't know how it all goes together just yet."

Broglio stressed that other factors, such as lifestyle choices, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical exercise, family history and whether or not you "exercise" your brain also impact the brain's aging process. Concussion may only be one small factor.

To begin to understand how concussions might impact brain activity and its signaling pathways, researchers asked the participants to perform cert
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Contact: Laura Bailey
baileylm@umich.edu
734-647-1848
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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