Just one season of playing football—even without a concussion—can cause brain damage

A region on the brain stem could serve as the “canary in the coal mine” to identify brain damage caused by repetitive head trauma from sports.

Science AAAC

Posted in: Brain & Behavior

By Eva Frederick

Aug. 7, 2019.

The familiar thudding soundtrack of football means nothing more to many fans than a well-executed game. But for neuroscience researchers, those sounds can signal something much darker: brain damage. Now, a new study shows playing just one season of college football can harm a player’s brain.

Doctors and players should take note of the findings, says Stephen Casper, a medical historian at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, who studies concussions but was not involved with the work. “It just adds to the mountains of evidence that people should be given very clear and 

They typically check for slurred speech and impaired coordination, and they conduct a physical examination for symptoms such as dilated or uneven pupils. Injuries that fall short of concussions are often overlooked, but if they happen frequently, they could be just as damaging to the brain.New York followed 38 of the school’s football players.

The athletes wore helmets outfitted with accelerometers to track the number and force of hits during practices and games. Before and after each season, the scientists took MRI scans of the players’ brains.

The researchers looked specifically at the midbrain, a region on the brain stem that governs primitive, thoughtless functions such as hearing and temperature regulation. When a player’s head is hit from any angle, the brain ripples like the surface of a pond after a rock is thrown, explains study author Adnan Hirad, a medical 

The results were striking. Although only two of the 38 players received a concussion, more than two-thirds of them showed changes to the integrity of the white matter of their midbrains. Rotational hits—when a player’s helmet is struck by a glancing blow—were particularly bad for the 

The researchers also found the same MRI signature of injury in the midbrain in a separate cohort with diagnosed concussions. In this second cohort, the changes in the midbrain were correlated with increased levels of tau protein in those individuals’ bloodstreams. The protein, which indicates brain cell damage, is linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition that can cause memory loss, depression, and emotional instability, and can eventually lead to dementia.

The midbrain is like the “canary in the coal mine for the whole brain,” says study author Bradford Mahon, a neuroscientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mahon and Hirad hope the region will prove useful to doctors and researchers in the future, and show a more. nuanced picture of how football’s repetitive hits can harm players’ brains,even when they are not concussed.

The scientists plan to use their research to develop algorithms that could glean data from helmet accelerometers and signal when a player has sustained dangerous levels of damage. As a first step, the team hascreated the Open Brain Project, where players can upload their helmet data.

Still, although Casper applauds the study, he says the real question is whether college students should play football at all, given the risks. “I fear the answer is no.”

*Correction, 9 August, 5:35 p.m.: This story has been updated to reflectthat higher levels of tau protein were found in a separate cohort of people 

Startups fighting a 'bulletproof' mentality in men's health

The Age

By Emma Koehn

July 8, 2019

Young Australian men are reluctant to visit their GPs, and startup founders think the whole healthcare experience needs to be rebranded.

"There are stigmas talking about mental and physical health— there is a premium put on the idea of being bulletproof," says Pilot co-founder Tim Doyle.

The federal government's men's health strategy for the next decade suggests male access to healthcare is lagging behind Australian women's. More than 70 per cent of men don't seek help in a timely manner for mental health concerns, according to the strategy report.

Numbers like these have prompted tech entrepreneurs to draw on their own experience as patients to build products that take the pressure off setting up healthcare appointments.

Taking branding to healthcare Doyle and co-founder Charlie Gearside cut their teeth at mattress startup Koala before deciding to turn their branding skills to the world of healthcare.

Along with fellow founder Benny Kleist, they've raised $2 million from investors including Blackbird Ventures and Comcast Ventures founder Daniel Gulati to launch Pilot, a platform connecting young men to doctors for key health concerns.

Users select a health issue: mental health concerns, sleep issues, erectile dysfunction or hair loss, and complete a pre-screening application to be connected to a GP or pharmacist.

Doyle says the approach is about building a brand that is easy to use and one which makes it easy for patients to access advice. The startup has just seen its first revenue from linking doctors and pharmacies with patients. "It’s just making it relatable, understandable and clearly actionable — and simple," Doyle says.

Online healthcare soars Telemedicine will be worth $59.8 billion by 2021, according to Statista with Silicon Valley companies raising millions for startups focused specifically on male healthcare.

US startup Roman raised more than $120 million last year, rebranding to "Ro" and expanding its on-demand healthcare to men's and women's health consultations.

Closer to home, David Narunsky and Gabe Baker started their venture Mosh more than three years ago. Mosh also allows users to connect with doctors for advice on issues like hair loss and sexual health.

Narunsky says it's taken years to build up a network of medical professionals invested in tele-health. "It takes a lot of time and it's all about finding the right people to work with," he says.

Mosh saw Tinder co-founders Sean Rad and Justin Mateen take an undisclosed stake in the company this year.

Despite an increasing number of GPs being open to online consultations, startups in this space have generally focused on a few specific health concerns, rather than offering healthcare on a broader scale.

With many technology founders coming to this sector from backgrounds other than healthcare, does care need to be taken with the online medicine boom?

"You need to be sceptical yourself. The reality is a lot of the history of the telemedicine space has been shortcut on patient care," Doyle says.

"But doctors recognise that the patients we’re talking to often aren't walking into their office ever in the first place," Kleist says.

Having only recently launched, Pilot is focused on building its brand in these early stages.

The founders see the brand's position as a key attitude changer: if startups like this can become accepted or even cool, there's a bigger chance more of their target market will be happy to sign up and get the help when they need it.

Media stories about the nation's mental health crisis and disconnection from healthcare are not new, but the approach to addressing these issues has so far not drawn on technological solutions as well as it could have, Doyle says.

"You’ve seen lots of attention paid but very little outcome." The team is hoping to leverage their marketing expertise to make it more appealing to ask for assistance in the first place, Doyle says.

"This is a journey to find this holistic approach to health: how do you create something that has a meaningful impact on some guy in Australia?"

Michael Hutchence's sister 'His personality changed': on his traumatic brain injury

The Guardian

Jenny Valentish

Tue 25 Sep 2018

Emboldened by their mother’s death, Tina take on her brother.

Everything about Michael looked different, his sister thought. He was paler, duller in the eyes, more slumped in the shoulders. Even his Byronic curls seemed to have lost their bounce. It brought to mind the Emily Dickinson poem After Great Pain, a Formal Feeling Comes:

The Feet, mechanical, go round –A Wooden wayOf Ground, or Air, or Ought – Regardless grown, A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

It was 1996, the day before Tina Hutchence’s wedding. Earlier, in a fax to her, he’d explained the “unmitigated hell” he was going through, “with the press, the police, a fire, four burglaries, litigation … we have seven or eight writs on our hands”.

Two months later, a police raid would find drugs in the house he shared with Paula Yates.

The story of Michael’s final years under siege from the paparazzi has been well documented.

Tina was moved to write the book Michael: My Brother, Lost Boy of INXS because she felt that he had become a tragic caricature in the hands of other biographers – and she’s counted at least nine. Hers includes an introduction about the Paradise Papers and Michael’s missing millions, and written tributes from several of Michael’s friends.

Her co-writer is Jen Jewel Brown, who began her career in music journalism at the Daily Planet in the early 70s, and who sang backing vocals on Speed Kills, the track Michael made with Cold Chisel’s Don Walker for the 1982 soundtrack of Freedom.

Guardian Australia: You and your mother, Patricia Glassop, wrote a biography about Michael – Just a Man – that was published in 2001. Have new things come to light?

Tina Hutchence: There were things that I wanted to write about in the last book and I couldn’t because my [late] mother didn’t want to, but the main new thing is the traumatic brain injury [Hutchence was shoved by a taxi driver in 1992 and fractured his skull].

While he lost his sense of smell and taste, I don’t believe he was told much else about what could happen. He was put on Prozac and told he’d get through the headaches. But there has been so much written about TBIs in the US over the last five years, looking at football players and boxers. It made sense to me the more I read, because Michael’s personality changed dramatically. I’ve now done a couple of podcasts about it in the States and I intend to continue to working along those lines.

By the time he was 16, Michael had lived in Australia, Hong Kong and the US, having to adapt to each. These seem like the perfect formative years for a rock star in waiting.

‘Lost his sense of smell and taste’: Michael Hutchence.

'His personality changed': Michael Hutchence's sister on his traumatic brain injury | Music | The Guardian 17/6/19, 8)06 am

He was always very interested in what was going on around him. In Hong Kong, especially in those days, business is done over pleasure – you go to dinner parties and cocktail parties and deals are made. But if you were living there in those times, conversation was always about how our lives were going to change. It obviously made quite an impression on him when he was so young, watching these riots [the 1967 leftist riots against colonial rule.

Michael’s father, Kell, was impulsive and charming, making life-changing decisions for the family on a whim and without consultation. Very lead singer-esque.

Yeah, he was. Very charming and the life of the party. He respected women but he also felt it was the man who rules everything. My mother was exceptional in that she had already gone through a divorce and made something of herself, becoming one of the few make-up artists

in Australia in the 60s. She was her own person, so it was a tough relationship.

There then came a traumatic split, with Patricia covertly departing for the US with Michael,leaving his brother Rhett with Kell. This was just a year before no-fault divorce was an option.

Women were stuck; it was very difficult getting a divorce. It wasn’t just traumatic for Michael, but also my mother. Every time somebody writes about that they tend to write it as though my mother just kidnapped him and took him off to the States against his will, but it was something she talked to him about and they planned it. At first, everything was a rush and exciting, but after it settled down they both realised what they’d done. My mother, especially – I don’t think she ever forgave herself for leaving Rhett.

Michael’s life became a circus amid the custody battle between his partner Paula Yates and her ex-husband, Bob Geldof. The UK had hit peak paparazzi; Princess Diana died three months before him, having been harassed relentlessly. And yet, as you observe, there was an odd attitude in the UK that celebrities brought it on themselves – by wanting to be famous.

‘I don’t think [our mother] ever forgave herself for leaving'.

'His personality changed': Michael Hutchence's sister on his traumatic brain injury I think you can always tell if an article is from a UK newspaper, just from reading it. He’d always had such a great relationship with the press. They didn’t bother him, or didn’t even realise it was him. 

 I had observed him walking around in Paris, LA and Australia and people would just say, “Oh hi, I caught your show the other night,” and he’d say, “Thanks mate,” shake their hand and walk on. But when all that exploded in London, he was absolutely beside himself. I was once told that with the tabloids they’ve got to have a good guy and a bad guy. What role could he take if Bob [known in the UK tabloids as “Saint Bob”] was on the other side?

You express frustration that no one in management or the touring party talked to the family about their concerns during the final tour in 1997. We would see the same pressure have a fatal impact on Amy Winehouse and Avicii.

Yes. Absolutely. “Let’s push on.” Doesn’t matter if he’s forgetting his own lyrics. That was very upsetting. I found out more in reading some of the statements to the police. The fact that the manager wrote Michael a letter saying she was very worried about him, and what can they do? Well obviously the thing to do is call off the tour that he didn’t want to be on, but they didn’t – it was on with the show. Do you hope this book will be a full stop? Oh, I do. As well as helping the traumatic brain injury community, I think this is something for Michael’s legacy. He deserves it.

There is one more thing to come though, the documentary from Richard Lowenstein (who made the movie Dogs in Space, starring Michael).

I’ve been working with him on that, supplying photographs and pieces of film and doing some voiceover. I think it’s going to be brilliant.

• Michael: My Brother, Lost Boy of INXS by Tina Hutchence and Jen Jewel Brown is out now

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  13. Teen fighting for life after Healesville car park brawl
  14. Police discover critically injured man at Logan Village address
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  21. 'Country footy is way behind': The missing concussion discussion in local level Aussie Rules
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  24. Man dies after being shoved to the ground in New York mask altercatio
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  29. 'It's been a big day for me': Smith wants change after $1.4m concussion payout
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  32. Danny Frawley was suffering from chronic brain disease when he died
  33. Elon Musk unveils brain computer implanted in pigs
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  35. Treatment for aggressive brain cancer shows promise in early trial
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  73. Link between concussion and brain damage to ensure AFL debate rages

Page 10 of 35

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