One of the most controversial topics in neurology today is the prevalence of serious permanent brain damage after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Long-term studies and a search for genetic risk factors are required in order to predict an individual's risk for serious permanent brain damage, according to a review article published by Sam Gandy, MD, PhD, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in a special issue of Nature Reviews Neurology dedicated to TBI.
About one percent of the population in the developed world has experienced TBI, which can cause serious long-term complications such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is marked by neuropsychiatric features such as dementia, Parkinson's disease, depression, and aggression. Patients may be normal for decades after the TBI event before they develop AD or CTE. Although first described in boxers in the 1920s, the association of CTE with battlefield exposure and sports, such as football and hockey, has only recently begun to attract public attention.
"Athletes such as David Duerson and Junior Seau have brought to light the need for preventive measures and early diagnosis of CTE, but it remains highly controversial because hard data are not available that enable prediction of the prevalence, incidence, and individual risk for CTE," said Dr. Gandy, who is Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry and Director of the Center for Cognitive Health at Mount Sinai. "We need much more in the way of hard facts before we can advise the public of the proper level of concern."
Led by Dr. Gandy, the authors evaluated the pathological impact of single-incident TBI, such as that sustained during military combat; and mild, repetitive TBI, as seen in boxers and National Football League (NFL) players to learn what measures need to be taken to identify risk and incidence early and reduce long-term complications.
Mild, repetitive TBI, as is seen
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