Awareness of the potential long-term effects of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) has increased in recent years. Certain populations, such as military service members and athletes who play contact sports, are susceptible to repetitive mTBI. The Tug McGraw Foundation's current focus in TBI is understanding the use of red and near-infrared light in treating veterans with chronic traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Traumatic Brain Injury
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate or severe, depending on the extent of damage to the brain. Mild cases (mild traumatic brain injury, or mTBI) may result in a brief change in mental state or consciousness, while severe cases may result in extended periods of unconsciousness, coma or even death. (American Association of Neurological Surgeon)
Military-Related Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is recognized as the signature injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and has emerged as a significant challenge for the Department of Defense. According to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, more than 339,000 service members have been diagnosed with TBI since the year 2000. The extent of injury is very often hard to discern, making field diagnosis and medical treatment problematic.
Football-Related Traumatic Brain Injury
The link between football and traumatic brain injury continues to strengthen. Now, one of the largest studies on the subject to date finds that 110 out of 111 deceased NFL players had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disorder associated with repetitive head trauma.
Mez J, Daneshvar DH, Kiernan PT, et al. Clinicopathological Evaluation of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Players of American Football. JAMA. 2017;318(4):360–370. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.8334
Degenerative Brain Disease Found In 87% of Former Football Players: Study
Source: Time Magazine (2017)