Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Banged up. The science of concussion.

This week's edition of The Economist features my story about the science of concussion, and how growing understanding of what is going on in the brain. Paired with this piece is an op-ed at the front of the mag, a joint effort.

Bang to rights 

Science is taking big steps toward understanding the impact of concussion 

Mar 5th 2016 | From the print edition

FRED McNEILL, an American-football player, died in November at the age of 63. Between 1974 and 1985 he appeared for the Minnesota Vikings. After leaving them he became a lawyer but in later years suffered from dementia and was told that he had signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease. His recent death has become a milestone in the understanding of brain disorders, for post-mortem examination has confirmed this diagnosis—retrospectively making him the first person to be so diagnosed while alive. [More...]

Schools and hard knocks 

Children need protection from high-impact sports such as rugby and American football 

Mar 5th 2016 | From the print edition

IMAGINE being asked to take part in an activity that gives you somewhere between a 1-in-5 and 1-in-20 chance of a serious head injury over a four-month period. That could lead to weeks of impaired mental performance and headaches, and, especially if the blows are repeated, the danger of longer-term mental-health problems. Now imagine that your child is the one taking that risk.

 Such are the dangers associated with playing American football. The risks of concussion are higher still in rugby, one of the world’s fastest-growing sports. These concerns have already prompted some changes. Rugby has introduced “head-injury assessment” rules, enabling players who have suspected concussions to be substituted temporarily so that they can be checked by medical staff. All 50 of America’s states have adopted “return to play” laws that require medical clearance before younger athletes who have sustained a concussion can take to the field again. [More...]