New research indicates that even mild concussions may lead to serious long-lasting effects in the brain and may even play a role in the development of dementia-related diseases.
TechnologyNetworks.com reports that the research, out of the University of Virginia school of Medicine, suggests that after concussion and other traumatic brain injury (TBI) the brain may experience a reduction in its ability to remove toxins. Researchers believe that this may lay the foundation for later dementia related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The risk seems to be most pronounced for those who have suffered a concussion and then suffer further traumatic brain injury before fully healing from the previous injury.
Commenting on the research John Lukens, PhD, of UVA's Department of Neuroscience and the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG) said, "This provides some of the best evidence yet that if you haven't recovered from a brain injury and you get hit in the head again, you're going to have even more severe consequences." He added,"This reinforces the idea that you have to give people an opportunity to heal. And if you don't, you're putting yourself at a much higher risk for long-term consequences that you might not see in a year but could see in a couple of decades."
The researchers used lab mice to study the way that the brain cleans itself after suffering traumatic brain injury. TBI leads to swelling which can trap lymphatic vessels in the brain, reducing their ability to clean the brain of toxins. In mice, the reduced lymphatic function can last up to two weeks. Researchers suspect that in humans the impairment can last even longer.