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Complications From Repetitive Brain Injuries

Complications from repetitive brain injuries

Head injuries are among the most catastrophic because a person’s cognition, motor skills, and memory can be negatively impacted. While it may seem like only a minor concussion, complications from repetitive brain injuries can cause permanent neurological impairment.

It may be difficult to recognize symptoms of these concussion complications. Often, concussion symptoms present as different medical problems. We would like you to remember that you should always seek medical treatment if you believe you have sustained a concussion or exhibit symptoms discussed in this article.

The most common symptoms following a head injury are:

  • Memory problems
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

Most common consequences of repetitive brain injury

With each concussion someone sustains recovery becomes longer and symptoms often become more severe. Some of the most common consequences experienced by people that have had more than one concussion are:

Post Concussion Syndrome

Post concussion syndrome is a complex condition in which concussion symptoms lasts for a longer period of time. The syndrome appears to be worse in people that have sustained multiple concussions. It can often be difficult to diagnose as there is no specific test. The diagnosis comes from examining the injury history and symptoms.

Symptoms of post concussion syndrome:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Changes in mood
    • irritability
    • anxiety
    • depression
  • Cognitive impairment –
    • concentration
    • memory
    • thinking

The good news is that post concussion syndrome is not permanent. With proper rest and medical attention, recovery, which can take weeks to months, will happen.

CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

CTE is a degenerative disease and found most often in military veterans and athletes. The injury is caused by repetitive blows to the head over a period of time. Studies suggest that you do not have to have a history of serious concussions to develop CTE. Evidence suggests a series of subconcussive impacts may put someone at a greater risk of developing CTE. Not everyone who has suffered from repetitive brain injury will develop CTE. The reasons for this are being studied.

CTE is a protein referred to as Tau. It forms in the brain and spreads. As this protein spreads it kills brain cells causing intellectual, and physical impairment. CTE can not be diagnosed until post-mortem, when the brain can be thoroughly examined.

Indications of possible CTE are:

  • personality changes
  • depression and suicidal thoughts
  • lack of impulse control
  • aggressive behaviour
  • Parkinsonism
  • Dementia
  • tremors
  • slowed movement
  • loss of coordination
  • slowed speech
  • confusion
  • memory problems

CTE was formerly called Dementia pugilistica. This is more commonly known as “punch drunk syndrome”. This term was first used with Boxers in 1928.

A more technical video introducing “Punch Drunk” or CTE and the science behind it can be found at Neuro Central.

Doctors can prescribe pain medication, antidepressants, and psychotherapy to help you manage symptoms. Please make sure you consult any doctor before trying any medications or natural supplements.

Neurocognitive Impairments

This is concussion symptoms that do not heal, and cognitive functions that become impaired. The symptoms continue and often get worse as the person gets older.

Symptoms include:

  • problems concentrating
  • irritable moods
  • confusion
  • loss of balance
  • impaired cognitive abilities.

Athletes studied showed continual cognitive decline and neurocognitive impairments in visual and working memory.

Slower recovery from additional concussion injury

Each time someone suffers a concussion the neurological recovery time increases. There is also evidence of permanent neurological damage following multiple concussions.

It is important to make sure that enough time is taken to rest before returning to activities. Coaches, and parents, need to recognize the signs and symptoms of concussion. They must also seek medical advice about when it is safe to allow the athlete, or child to return to their usual activities. Baseline testing can provide a good way of determining the degree of injury and its neurological effect.


Studies have shown a direct relationship between repeated concussion and depression. This is a mental disorder that affects someone’s mood, emotions and behavior. Signs of depression vary. The most recognizable sign is loss of interest in activities, appetite changes, change in sleeping patterns, and most concerning, suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Wishart Brain and Spine Law have filed class action lawsuits against the Canadian Football League, Western Hockey League, Canadian Hockey League, and Hockey Canada for players who have sustained long-term injuries related to untreated head trauma. Contact Us if you would like more information on how to join this claim. Other activities prone to complications from repetitive brain injuries are cheerleading, soccer, martial arts, and gymnastics.

This article is intended for information purposes only. It is not intended to replace a doctor’s diagnosis nor is it to be considered medical advice.

If you or someone you know was injured playing a sport, and is now suffering from complications from repetitive brain injuries, or symptoms from a concussion that are impacting your daily life, compensation may be available for future care and medical costs. Contact us Wishart Brain & Spine Law. Our experienced personal injury lawyer may be able to help. Your first consultation is always free.

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