Can Concussions Cause Alzheimer's?

You've seen them on TV.  The former pro football players looking confused and struggling to put a sentence together.  Or boxer Muhammad Ali with that blank look in his eyes.

Researchers are slowly coming to the conclusion that, yes, repeated concussions may lead to Alzheimer's. 

"A new study suggests that a history of concussion involving at least a momentary loss of consciousness may be related to the buildup of Alzheimer’s-associated plaques in the brain," newswise.com reports.  

Study author Michelle Mielke, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic researcher found, however that "in people with a history of concussion, a difference in the amount of brain plaques was found only in those with memory and thinking problems, not in those who were cognitively normal."

In the study, "of the 448 people without any thinking or memory problems, 17 percent reported a brain injury and 18 percent of the 141 with memory and thinking difficulties reported a concussion or head trauma. The study found no difference in any brain scan measures among the people without memory and thinking impairments, whether or not they had head trauma. However, people with memory and thinking impairments and a history of head trauma had levels of amyloid plaques an average of 18 percent higher than those with no head trauma history,' according to newswise.com. 

“Our results add merit to the idea that concussion and Alzheimer’s disease brain pathology may be related,” Dr. Mielke says. “However, the fact that we did not find a relationship in those without memory and thinking problems suggests that any association between head trauma and amyloid is complex.”

So, looks like the jury is still out but try your best not to get a concussion!

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