Concussions take time — CJSM Blog Post Journal Club

Our Jr. Assoc. Editor Jason Zaremski MD looking for some help from a friend with the newest CJSM Blog Post Journal Club

Our March 2020 issue has just published, and right out of the gate one of the studies that has received the most buzz is one from a team of researchers in New Zealand demonstrating that less than 50% of concussed individuals recover within two weeks of a sports-related concussion.

Jason Zaremski, MD, CJSM’s Jr. Assoc. Editor, explores this new study today in our most recent CJSM Blog post Journal Club.  It is a two year prospective study with some revealing findings. We’re sure you will enjoy the blog post and the study itself!

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Jason Zaremski MD

Kara S, et al. Less Than Half of Patients Recover Within 2 Weeks of Injury After a Sports-Related Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A 2-Year Prospective Study. Clin J Sport Med 2020;30:96–101. doi.org/10.1097/JSM.0000000000000811.

Introduction:  Sports related concussion (SRC) is a common and significant concern, challenging not only sports medicine practitioners, but also athletes, coaches, family members, and all sports performance team members. While diagnostic skills and research in this area have dramatically improved in the past 10 years, our patients still have several questions, including: How long until I can go back and play? Some data has suggested the majority of SRC patients recover in approximately a 2-4 week recovery time frame. According to the consensus statement in concussion in sport (5th iteration) held in Berlin, Germany, in October 2016—“the expected duration of symptoms in children with SRC is up to 4 weeks.” (McCrory, et al. BJSM 2017).  Kara and colleagues  have looked into the validity of this stated time frame.

Purpose: To describe clinical recovery time and factors that could impact recovery after a sports-related mild traumatic brain injury (SR-mTBI, aka “concussion”).

Methods/Design:  This is a prospective cohort study with level IV evidence. Read more of this post

CJSM Podcast with Kim Barber Foss and Greg Myer

We’re excited to ring in 2020 (and our 30th year of the journal) with both the publication of our January issue and a podcast with two special guests:  Kim Barber Foss MS, ATC and Greg Myer PhD from Cincinnati Children’s hospital, the lead and senior author on a study published in our November 2019 issue, Relative Head Impact Exposure and Brain White Matter Alterations After a Single Season of Competitive Football.

Kim Barber Foss MS, ATC

Kim and Greg are prolific researchers and have published widely. For instance, Kim published one of the seminal papers on youth sports concussion over 20 years ago in JAMA: Traumatic Brain Injury in High School Athletes. Do you remember those hoary days of the late 90’s, a prelapsarian world before iTunes and Twitter????  And Greg has published widely on subjects from ACL injury to concussion.  He has been a frequent contributor to CJSM and a major force in advancing evidence-based sports medicine.

With good friend and frequent CJSM contributor, Greg Myer PhD

I hope you get the chance both to read the study and listen to the podcast.  As ever, the podcast conversation can be an illuminating way to understand the author’s interpretation of their own work — conclusions which can be quite different from those which an individual reader may draw from the same study.  This is most especially true when the underlying subject — brain injury in youth contact sports — is such a controversial one.

As ever, you can find and subscribe to our podcasts on iTunes or at the CJSM website. If you have feedback to give us about the podcasts in general, please take the time to rate CJSM at iTunes.  And if you want to comment on this particular podcast and this particular study, please do so on this blog’s moderated comment section.

Enjoy the January 2020 issue and Happy New Year!

CJSM Blog Journal Club — Brain Changes After a Single Season in Youth vs. High School Football

Attending to injured player, High School Football

The November 2019 Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine has just published, and as always the new edition is full of interesting and original research.

One of the studies that already is getting some buzz is one by a team of researchers (full disclosure: including myself) headed by Dr. Kim Barber-Foss entitled Relative Head Impact Exposure and Brain White Matter Alterations After a Single Season of Competitive Football: A Pilot Comparison of Youth Versus High School Football.

This is a perfect study for a journal club, as the subject of cumulative exposure to head impacts, most especially in our youngest athletes, has been a hot, hot topic in sports medicine for several years. The sport in question here is American gridiron football.

Our intrepid Blog Journal Club author and Junior Associate Editor Jason Zaremski MD leads the charge, as ever, in his most recent post.  Thanks Dr. Zaremski for your insightful analysis of this new research.

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Title: Barber Foss KD, et al. Relative Head Impact Exposure and Brain White Matter Alterations After a Single Season of Competitive Football: A Pilot Comparison of Youth Versus High School Football. Clin J Sport Med 2019;29:442–450.

Jr. Assoc. Editor and Blog Journal Club author Dr. Jason Zaremski (L) and CJSM Editor-in-Chief Dr. Chris Hughes (R)

Introduction:  The pre-holiday CJSM journal club brings you an innovative new study from expert researchers related to potential white matter changes in the brain in adolescent football players. As has been discussed in the CJSM journal club as well as throughout the media, there are many consequences to sustaining a sport related concussion (SRC). One question yet to be answered, with advances in neuroimaging techniques, can structural alterations of the brain be observed using magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)? According to the authors, DTI can evaluate microscale white matter (WM) changes. This is potentially important as WM changes may be detected even without clinical signs of a SRC. More specifically, the measurable metrics include fractional anisotropy (FA), radial diffusivity (RD), axial diffusivity (AD), and mean diffusivity (MD). According to prior research, RD, AD, and MD are sensitive to detect WM changes in athletes participating in contact sports. Hence, we present “Relative Head Impact Exposure and Brain White Matter Alterations After a Single Season of Competitive Football: A Pilot Comparison of Youth Versus High School Football.”

Purpose: To determine preseason to postseason changes in WM integrity from repetitive head impacts for youth football (YFB) players compared with HS football players during a competitive football season.

Hypothesis(es): The magnitude of WM changes would be greater for YFB than for HS football players.

Methods/Design:  Prospective study with IRB approval and consent and assent obtained. Read more of this post

What to do about heading?

Heading the ball — photo courtesy of Wikimedia

I have been meaning to write a blog post for over a week, since a bit of breaking sports medicine news occurred with the publication of some research in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

It took a Tweet this morning to rouse me to action.  I promise it hasn’t been sloth on my part that has slowed my hand, but pleading “I’m busy” to the group of folks who usually will be reading CJSM media is not going to gain much sympathy.

And yes, with fall sports, I sure have been busy.  But I am sure you have too.

I hope, however, not too busy to have missed this piece of research from NEJM: “Neurodegenerative Disease Mortality Among Former Professional Soccer Players.”  There was an accompanying editorial to this study, a piece that is most definitely worth a read too. “Soccer and Mortality — Good News and Bad News”

The published research was a large retrospective cohort study looking at former professional Scottish football (soccer) players: 7676 cases were identified from databases of Scottish football players and 23,028 controls (3:1) from the ‘general population’ were identified using a Scottish ‘Community Health Index.’ Controls were matched to players on the basis of sex, age, and degree of social deprivation.  Of note, all the participants in this study were male.The researchers looked at two dependent outcome variables:  i) cause of death as noted on death certificates and ii) dispensed medications, information for which was obtained from the Scottish national Prescribing Information System.  Follow up information for study participants was for a median of 18 years (for each individual, “Age was used as the time covariate, with follow-up from age 40 years to the date of data censoring, which was either the date of death or the end of the follow up (December 31, 2016), whichever occurred first).”

The researchers report several important findings in this study, to note just a few:

Read more of this post

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